The Mailbox: Is Kefir really that different from plain yogurt?

mailbox
Dear Health Junction,
I keep hearing all this hype about how healthy Kefir is, so went out in search of the best one I could find. I went to a health food store and found an organic local Kefir made with 2 simple ingredients: organic skim milk and active bacterial cultures. However, right beside it, from the same company, was an organic local plain yogurt; ingredients: organic skim milk and active bacterial culture. I fail to see the difference, although I find the taste of Kefir much more sour.  So, the question is: Is there really a difference between plain yogurt and kefir? Will they equally stimulate healthy bacteria to flourish in my colon and provide similar regularity?
Sincerely,
Another Stumped Nutrition Junkie
kefir
Dear ASNJ,
Your question is timely considering how Kefir has been popping up in the dairy isle of grocery stores lately.  Here is what I was able to dig up on the difference between Kefir and yogurt.
bacteria
Both Kefir and yogurt contain probiotics which are a “good” type of bacteria.  There are around 400 different types of bacteria that make up our intestinal flora which runs through our gastrointestinal tract.  Probiotics help to prohibit an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria which in turn helps to prevent sickness while simultaneously  boosting the immune system.
Probiotics
The main difference is that Kefir typically has about 40 times as many probiotic cultures as compared to yogurt.  Yogurt contains 1 billion organisms per half cup while Kefir delivers 4o billion.  Additionally, Kefir is made with 10 to 20 different types of bacterial strains whereas yogurt only has a couple.
biotics
As mentioned probiotics help to stimulate the immune system and consumption is tied to a reduction in symptoms for people who suffer from allergies (seasonal, environmental, food), constipation, eczema, bloating, colitis, crohn’s, irritable bowel syndrome, and recurrent yeast infections.  They are killer at helping promote regularity.  Probiotics are also especially helpful for those who are taking antibiotics since this type of medication wipes out all bacteria (both good and bad) from our system.
probiotics2
Your Truly,
The Health Junction

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Happiness and bacteria have one thing in common; they multiply by dividing!”

–  Rutvik Oza

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The Mailbox: do aphrodisiacs really increase sex drive?

Dear Health Junction,

I’ve heard that certain foods are good for increasing sex drive.  Is this true?

From,

PM

Sexy Strawberry

Hi PM,

That’s a cool question.  Thanks for consulting with The Health Junction.

Horny Goat Weed

An aphrodisiac is a food or drink that is said to stimulate sexual desire.  According to “How Stuff Works”, aphrodisiacs work through two mechanisms; by stimulating the mind or by stimulating the physical body.

aphrodisiacs

I wasn’t able to find any studies that point to a definite relationship between the consumption of an aphrodisiac and a measured increase in sexual desire.  The FDA also claims that aphrodisiacs “have no scientific basis and are simply a myth”.

Banana

That  being said, we know that the mind is a powerful tool and that somethings can’t be explained by science.  A placebo can often have the same desired effect as an active drug.  So, here is a list of some known aphrodisiacs available at your local grocery store:

Aniseed:  includes an estrogen based compound.

Avocado:  apparently the Aztecs thought that avocados look like testicles.

Bananas:  aside from their penis like shape, they include a lot of potassium and B Vitamins which are needed for hormone production.

Basil:  this one is suppose to  boost fertility and increase circulation.

Cardamom:  indicated for impotence and contains a chemical called cineole that improve circulation.

Chocolate:  contains pleasure boosting chemicals such as serotonin and phenylethylamine.

Carrots:  based purely on its shape.

Chili Peppers:  contains capsaicin, a pain reliever.

Cucumbers:  based purely on it’s shape and pleasant smell.

Figs:  based only on the fact that figs resemble the shape of a vagina.

Garlic:  increases circulation.

Ginger:  increases circulation and has a pleasant smell.

Honey:  contains  B Vitamins which are required for hormone production.

Licorice:  interestingly, one study found that men who smelled licorice had a 13% increase of blood flow to the penis.

Good luck and keep the chili pepper away from your genitals,

The Health Junction

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Just as bees will swarm about to protect their nest, so will I ‘swarm about’ to protect my nest of chocolate eggs.” 

–  Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts, Saturday Night Live

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What’s Your Favourite Healthy Breakfast?

eggs-on-toastSpicedOatmealShake1-copy-1024x682Porridge with berries (1)

The Health Junction Mailbox: How do I get the perfect poo?

Dear Health Junction,

Lately, I’ve noticed the quality of my poo isn’t the best it could be.  Often, I have loose bowels while on other days, it seems to be more of a constapoo situation (looks dehydrated and hard).  What do I need to do to get the perfect poo??

From,

MT

imagesHi MT,

Thanks for sharing your poo story.  I have heard many similar complaints and as Dr. Oz has pointed out, your stool is in fact a daily health checkup.

We should be pooping at least once a day and it shouldn’t hurt or rip as it exits.  If it does, your poo needs a new “do”.

There are three things that are required for an excellent bowel movement that doesn’t result in having to use 1/2 a roll of toilet paper or on the flip side, being devoid of a daily bowel movement.

Hydration:  your bowels need 8-10 cups of water each day to keep things moving.  Water literally helps to flush out the colon.  Try starting off with two 8 oz glasses of room temperature water with a squeeze of fresh lemon first thing in the morning.   Water encourages peristalsis, that gentle contracting of the colon that is needed to push stool along the digestive passageway.  Keep drinking throughout the day to improve your chances at a healthy poo.

peristalsis

Lubrication:  squeaky wheel gets the grease (or poo in this case).  If your colon is not lubricated correctly, stool is less likely to pass with ease.  Lubrication is different than water and involves eating lots of essential fatty acids which can be found in fish, fish oil, walnuts, flaxseeds, and avocado.

fish

Bulk:  and by bulk, I mean fiber.  Between 30-50 grams a day with a mix between soluble and insoluble fiber (soluble = nuts, whole grains, peans, bran, oats / insoluble = cabbage, carrots, apples, cauliflower, leafy greens).  Just remember that soluble fiber especially does more damage than good if it’s consumed without a truckload of water.  If you want to continue experiencing “constapoos” have fiber without water.

fiber

Try these three tips and let me know how things go.

Yours Truly,

The Health Junction

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Everybody looks at their poop.” 

–  Oprah Winfrey

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