Why You Should Introduce Yoghurt to Your Child

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“Please finish your milk”, “Hurry up and gulp your milk down”! Do these mantras sound familiar? I’m sure, we would all agree that getting children, especially younger children to drink their milk is a mammoth task. Which explains, why the so called “health drink” industry is booming. Let us cover how to get our children to drink milk in another article. But today, I want to talk about a milk product that is more beneficial than milk. Yes you heard it right! And it is none other than the humble curd or yoghurt.

Yoghurt  is a dairy product produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk. Bacteria act on the milk sugar lactose and converts them to lactic acid which is what gives yoghurt its texture and characteristic tang.

Yoghurt’s nutritional benefits surpasses that of milk. All children, including those who are moderately lactose-intolerant can consume yoghurt without feeling ill, because the lactic acid found in yoghurt is partially digested and is better tolerated by the body. Yoghurt is nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

Probiotics, yoghurt and children’s gut health.

What does the term “probiotics” mean and why do we hear it so often in relation to yoghurt? Probiotics are “good bacteria” that are needed and naturally present in the digestive system. Live strains or active cultures of these “good bacteria” are also found in yogurt products. These good bacteria present in yoghurt maximises nutrient absorption, insures a healthy digestive system and preserves the well being and immune system. 

The lactic acid of yoghurt is a perfect medium to maximize calcium absorption. Studies suggest that calcium from dairy sources has a substantially greater effect than calcium from supplements. Calcium is of utmost importance for children as it helps develop strong bones and teeth, and plays a vital role in supporting a good nervous system and muscle function.

What is whey?

Whey is the clear liquid that separates out from the yoghurt. It is slightly laxative and very good for the kidneys. It contains helpful bacteria which are good for the intestines. Whey is also high in minerals and an excellent source of protein. Use it in smoothies, to make soup, oatmeal, to make chapathi dough, or in any place where you can add a nutritional liquid.

How much of curd is needed per day?

A child aged between 4 to 8 years old needs about 700 mg of calcium which is met by 300 g of yoghurt along with a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Read on below to find out how these needs can be met.

How to maximise utilisation of yoghurt?

Incorporate yoghurt in your child’s meals to enjoy the plentiful health benefits it has to offer.

It is a common practice among South Indian homes to end a meal with “curd rice”. Among certain parts of the North, curd is eaten as an accompaniment to rotis and parathas, along with sabzee. Apart from eating it this way, read on about how to increase yoghurt consumption.

Yoghurt is an ideal snack choice as it keeps the body feeling full for longer. It can be fed to children as it is, in the form of a smoothie (blended with fruit) or topped with fresh or dry fruits. Hung curd is also used while making sandwiches along with vegetables – this serves as a filling and a balanced snack. Curd is also used while making instant idli/dosa, or while making rava idli.

Diluted buttermilk in place of drinking water offers more benefits while keeping the body hydrated and refreshed, especially during the summer months.

Yoghurt also works well as an ingredient in recipes. Substitute plain yoghurt for sour cream. Yoghurt could also be used for cake mixes or to give curries the tangy taste associated with it. 

Word of Caution: While shopping for yoghurt, check the label and look for brands that contain “active cultures”, “probiotics”; and Vitamin D which will be an added benefit.

How to make your own homemade yogurt? 

You could make your own homemade yoghurt for the satisfying health tag attached to it. Take 200ml of lukewarm milk in a container and add a tbsp of live culture yoghurt (plain and unsweetened) to it. Cover and leave the container undisturbed for about 7-8 hours. In colder places, keep the container inside an oven or hot pack, or near the stove while cooking. Lo, your homemade yoghurt is now ready!

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