Yoghurt and amasi – your go-to for gut health
Fermented foods are the rising stars on our grocery shelves – and yoghurt and amasi are South African favourites.
Amasi is a proud part of our country’s food heritage and has substantial cultural importance. Using Amasi is also a great way to boost the nutritional value of your diet, and is convenient, easy to store and affordable. Having amasi and yoghurt regularly also supports the recommendation of the South African food-based dietary guidelines that encourages us to ‘have milk, maas and yoghurt every day’.
So, why the focus on fermented foods? Because they’re good for gut health!
What is fermentation and why is it good for you?
Fermented foods are made by adding beneficial microbes (friendly bacteria), such as lactic acid bacteria and certain moulds and yeasts, to food during processing. It changes a food or beverage in unique and beneficial ways.
There are about 140 trillion bacteria in your gut, which help to digest food, produce vitamins, protect you against disease-causing microorganisms and help support your immune system. In addition to the health benefits of fermentation, the process also prolongs the shelf life of a food product through preservation, which is an important factor in food safety.
Fermented foods for a healthy gut
The best known benefit of having fermented foods is probably their positive effect on gut health if consumed daily. A poor diet, stress and taking medication like antibiotics or having anaesthesia can substantially affect the diversity of bacteria that make up the collection of microbes in your gut. Because fermented foods contain healthy bacteria, they are a source of live and active cultures. Making these foods part of your diet regularly can help to restore the balance in the gut. Moreover, studies have shown that having fermented foods and beverages often can increase the number of microbes in your gut 10 000 times.
When it comes to fermented dairy products, there are many options to choose from: drinkable products or spoonable forms, and products with different amounts of fat and protein. For example, you can choose yoghurt with between 0.5% and 6.3% fat, or have a plain or flavoured dairy snack. Opting for plain yoghurt and adding fresh fruit is better than having a sweetened product. In this way, you limit your intake of added sugar and at the same time ensure that you up your fibre intake and get lots of vitamins.
Yoghurt can be used as an easy lunchbox filler for everyone in your family. It helps to keep you going between meals, can be used to make a salad dressing or sauces, or be the basis of a complete meal. For breakfast, why not try yoghurt blended with fresh fruit for an on-the-go smoothie, or have a poached apple and yoghurt sprinkled with some cinnamon as a healthy dessert.
You can enjoy amasi as an anytime favourite, either on its own as a drink or in food. Keep it simple and pour it over pap for a quick start to your morning, stir it into soup or a sauce for a creamy dinner treat, or use it as a recovery drink after exercise.
Go to Rediscover Dairy for more ideas on how to make yoghurt and amasi part of a healthy, balanced diet.