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EXPERTS ADVICE

YogurtLand: Sweet Indulgence Minus the Guilt

Adia Coleman, RD, LDN

Do you have a hankering for a frozen treat, but don't want to blow your calorie budget or O.D. on sugar? Then stop by YogurtLand for a quick fix without sacrificing your health goals. These days, when many choose to avoid dairy because it's full of synthetic hormones and chemicals, Yogurtland boasts of using milk free of antibiotics and added hormones. YogurtLand frozen yogurt also has the added benefit of probiotics in the form of Live Active Cultures. Why is this important?

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that grow in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract (1), but lifestyle factors, like antibiotics, alcohol, and an unhealthy diet that's low in fiber and high in sugar, synthetic chemicals, and processed meats, can kill off the healthy bacteria. An unhealthy diet also feed bad bacteria, causing an imbalance that allows bad bacteria to grow out of control. Insufficient probiotics and overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria contribute to a multitude of health complications, including weight gain and inflammatory chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer (2).

Probiotics have been proven to prevent or treat a host of ailments, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease, Infections of the GI tract, Uro-genital Infections, Recurrence of Bladder Cancer, and Pediatric Eczema (3).

You'll also be glad to hear that Probiotics can prevent obesity and excess weight. When healthy GI bacteria break down non-digestible sugars, they produce chemicals, including short-chain fatty acids, that slow down the rate of GI tract movement and the rate that the stomach empties, which suppresses appetite (4). Who knew that having enough good bacteria in the gut could keep you from overeating?

These short-chain fatty acids strengthen the gut barrier in the GI tract, preventing the gut from leaking into the blood stream, which would trigger an inflammatory response throughout the body (4).

Are you convinced you need Probiotics but don't know what to eat to get them? The first food source is yogurt, obviously. Its signature tart taste comes from the fermentation activity of billions of healthy bacterial cultures. Other food sources of probiotics are fermented foods including pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and fermented soy products like Tempeh and Miso (2). Once you've gotten a dose of healthy bacteria, you need to eat the food that helps them flourish in your GI tract. Enter "insoluble fiber" (2). It's the skins, pulp, and hulls in fruits, veggies, and seeds that we commonly call "roughage".

An awesome option at YogurtLand is that in addition to the Probiotic cultures it provides in frozen yogurt, the menu also offers a range of fiber-rich toppings as fresh fruit, seeds, and nuts to help you keep your cultures alive and kicking.

A 5-oz serving of No Sugar Added, Fat-free Strawberry Cheesecake yogurt would look like a tennis ballsized mound, and provides 125 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of protein. While this is not a lot of calories for a sweet treat, caution is still needed because that "No Sugar Added" label comes with controversial sugar substitutes Aspartame and Acesulfame Potassium. Both have been approved by the FDA as safe for humans. But health risk claims persist, including headaches, dizziness, and altered metabolism. So these low-cal sweeteners are still a topic of research (5, 6). If you'd rather not take that risk, dig in to a Fat-free option with regular sugar, like Alfonso Mango Tart, at 150 calories and 35 grams of carbohydrate per 5-oz. serving. This shouldn't pull you too far off track and is also delicious, so enjoy!