Why Yoghurt Could Hold the Key to Longer Life

14/05/2014 17:18 BST | Updated 14/07/2014 10:59 BST

Did you know that yoghurt can help you lose weight? Can help you with the menopause or if you're elderly? And it can even help reduce Type 2 Diabetes! You didn't? Well neither did I! Which is why I went to San Diego last week to find out?

As a Registered Dietitian I am often called upon to travel the worlds [well within the M25] to seek out new research and advice on how to keep my patients fit and living longer lives. Last week I ventured beyond the confines of Bedfordshire to go to a Summit on Yoghurt in San Diego! Sounds glamorous? Well not really - one action packed day of learned professors sharing their findings on Yoghurt had me taking notes at the speed of light - going through three notebooks and as many gross of pencils.

The Conference, snappily titled Yoghurt in Nutrition, Initiative for a Balanced Diet (YINI) hosted its 2nd Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yoghurt on April 30th 2014 in San Diego.

If you're trying to lose weight

In the developed world we continue to get fatter. But, we were told that a recent US Framingham Heart Study followed a set of adults since 1991 and found that people who ate 3 servings a week of Yoghurt gained 50% less weight and had a 15% lower waist size compared with those who had no Yoghurt in their diet.

Other research from the SUN study followed the Yoghurt -eating habits of 8,516 people for 6 ½ years. None were overweight at the start of the study, but 1,860 had become overweight or obese by the end. Those who ate the most Yoghurt (at least one serving a day) were less likely to be among the overweight/obese group. An afternoon snack of Greek Yoghurt [say, Danio strained or other brands], rich in protein, has been shown to reduce hunger and increase fullness. And further research shows that eating more Yoghurt actually replaces less healthy foods like fizzy and sugary drinks.

If you're facing the menopause or later life.

If you're a post-menopausal woman, Yoghurt is brilliant for you to get more protein, calcium and vitamin D. If you're heading for later life - even more so with the milk protein in Yoghurt helping with muscle strength and healthier heart and bones.

[Here's the science again!] The European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis (ESCEO) established a task force which recommends postmenopausal women increase protein intakes from 0.8g/kg/bw/day to 1.0g and Vitamin D intakes from 800 IU/d to 1000 IU/d. For the elderly it is suggested to be 1.5g/kg/bw/day.

And if you're diabetic

You're not alone - The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 347 million diabetics worldwide & predicts that deaths from diabetes will rise by more than 50% during the next 10 years, making it the 7th leading cause of death globally by 2030. So when Nita Forouhi, a renowned Physician, told us how Yoghurt seemed to reduce the risk of getting Diabetes - we all sat up. Her team monitored over 4,000 people over 11 years. Her study found that those who regularly ate low-fat fermented dairy products (such as Yoghurt, cheese, sour cream) were 24% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who didn't. They found that those who ate about 4.5 standards pots each week reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 28%. They're still examining just why Yoghurt is beneficial, but they say it may be linked to nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and magnesium.

So this is the science that tells you Yoghurt apparently is better for you than we ever thought! Keep me posted with your experiences and I'll let the 'powers that be' know at the next conference!