Non-Medical Vaccination Opt-Outs on the Rise

By DR. HEATHER HAWTHORNE, ABC News Medical Unit | Good Morning America –

An increasing number of parents are getting state approval to allow their children to opt out of school-mandated vaccinations for non-medical reasons, according to a new analysis published Wednesday.

Dr. Saad Omer, author of the correspondence published in the New England Journal of Medicine, warned that this trend is leaving large populations of children at risk for developing potentially deadly illnesses that haven’t been seen in the United States in many years.

“Rates of exemption are substantially higher today than several years ago,” said Omer, assistant professor of global health, epidemiology and pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta. “Previously, rates were only rising in states with easy exemption policies, but now they are even rising in states that make it more difficult.”

Exemption policies vary from state to state and can range from not allowing any nonmedical exemptions to allowing opt-outs for religious or philosophical reasons. Some states make it very difficult to get approval for exemptions by requiring notarized letters from clergymen, letters written by parents with specific wording, or completion of standardized forms that can only be obtained from special locations such as health departments. Others make it very simple to skip vaccinations: Parents need only check a box on a short, standardized form.

Omer and his colleagues analyzed data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccination exemption rates for school years 2005 to 2011. They compared vaccine opt-out rates in each state to the ease with which exemptions could be obtained.

They found that parents were 2.5 times more likely to opt out in states that permit philosophical reasons compared with states that require religious objections.  They were also more than two times more likely to opt out in states with easy exemption processes.

In most cases, fears among parents over vaccines — many of them unfounded — may be at play.

“The CDC and health departments are doing a good job of increasing vaccine coverage,” Omer said. “Therefore, rates of vaccine-preventable disease are going down substantially. Parents aren’t seeing the actual diseases, so when they hear about real or perceived adverse effects of vaccines, their perception of the risks versus benefits is shifted.”

Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, agreed.

“Parents are just more skeptical about benefits of vaccines,” he said. “Most young parents today have never seen a case of polio or measles, and they didn’t learn about the seriousness of these diseases and importance of the vaccinations in school.”

Schaffner added that he finds it interesting that some states do not allow exemptions while others “really oblige parents wishing to opt out.”

Past research has shown, though, that in states with a substantial proportion of unimmunized or incompletely immunized children, many kids are susceptible to these classic diseases.  A 2006 study showed a 50 percent higher incidence of pertussis — commonly known as whooping cough — in states where it is easier to get exemptions. There have been similar findings with respect to measles.

Schaffner said he is very concerned that unvaccinated children who go abroad will bring back diseases, such as measles, that are still a major problem in other parts of the world.  Not only will they suffer, but they will spread the illnesses to children who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Schaffner said that part of the solution to the problem is that “states with easier process need to tighten up.” However, he said, this is not a fool-proof approach. He said some research has shown an increase in medical exemptions in states that have tightened up their policies — suggesting that parents are pressuring doctors to give medical exemptions. He encourages doctor to not let themselves be “brow-beaten into providing dubious excuses.”

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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Black Cohosh: The Safe Herb For Hot Flashes And Other Menopausal Symptoms

During the past 40 years, millions of American women have taken synthetic hormones to alleviate menopausal symptoms and to avert diseases like osteoporosis, heart disease (and more recently for Alzheimer’s), which usually have their onset after menopause. But in July 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that a large-scale study of HRT-known as the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)-was halted when it was found that the increased risk of breast and uterine cancers, heart attack, and blood clots associated with HRT far outweighed any benefits the therapy might provide. 

Additionally, in May of 2003, the WHI Memory Study reported that women older than 65 who used “estrogen” plus progestin doubled their risk of developing dementia. It’s important to note that the WHI study used synthetic hormone-like drugs. The medical establishment calls them “hormones,” but the molecules used are not identical to those normally found in a woman’s body. Because of this, it did not surprise us in the least that there turned out to be serious side effects.

In contrast, the use of natural hormones, or bio-identical hormones like natural progesterone, still appears to be safe.

The good news is recent studies have shown that black cohosh provides relief equal to synthetic-HRT for menopausal symptoms … without any side effects.

Scientists have assumed that black cohosh worked as a phytoestrogen, or natural plant-based estrogen. Just very recently, however, several studies were published indicating that black cohosh is not a phytoestrogen—meaning it does not produce estrogenic effects—and is therefore considered VERY safe for all women who want to reduce menopausal symptoms safely without worrying about the potentially bad effects of estrogen.

Menopause is a natural phase of life

Most American women reach menopause between the ages of 45 to 55, but menopause-like symptoms can begin at least ten years earlier. “Menopause is often heralded by the onset of a change in menstrual flow or skipped menstrual periods, “says Christiane Northrup, M.D., bestselling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (Bantam Books, July 1994), and The Wisdom of Menopause (Bantam Books, July 2001), and a past president of the American Holistic Medical Association. “Some women simply stop having periods and have no symptoms whatsoever. Others experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, and fuzzy thinking,” she adds.

It is these annoying problems that have given menopause its bad reputation. Furthermore, studies have shown that the onset of menopause can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease and a decline in bone density. So, what’s a woman to do?

Black cohosh has been used as a female tonic for hundreds of years

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) was used by Europeans and numerous Native American tribes for “female problems” long before the New World was settled. Native Americans also used it for arthritis, diarrhea and snake bites, as well as coughs and other pulmonary conditions. 

Black cohosh was first listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1830 under the name black snakeroot, and was introduced to the medical community in 1844 when Dr. John King prescribed it for rheumatism and nervous disorders. It was a prominent herb in midwifery practice, and the Eclectic Physicians used it in the mid-nineteenth century for a number of Ob/Gyn problems including endometriosis, menstrual irregularities, sterility, uterine prolapse, after-birth pains, and to allay miscarriage and increase breast milk production.

And, during the past 40 years, black cohosh has been used in Europe as an herbal pharmaceutical by more than 1.5 million women, and scientific research has recently demonstrated that black cohosh is a promising therapy for menopausal symptoms

What are menopausal hot flashes?

Hot flashes affect 70 to 85 percent of all perimenopausal women. 3 What exactly happens in your body to make you throw the covers off in the middle of a winter night, only to find that you’re freezing and wanting to bundle up a few minutes later? And why do some women have an intense heat spread over their face, scalp, and chest accompanied by redness and perspiration?

According to Dr. Northrup, hot flashes are triggered by falling estrogen and rising follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Most women have them just before or during the menstrual periods during perimenopause. They become more frequent during menopause—when your period ceases—and this can last for several years.

Some women suffer from sleep deprivation because they experience a continuum of hot flashes during the night. Consequently, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep—during which dreaming occurs—is interrupted, which can lead to depression.

Besides hormonal factors, external factors can impact the intensity and duration of a woman’s hot flashes. Stress, anxiety, a poor diet loaded with carbohydrates, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, and lack of exercise can all exacerbate menopausal symptoms.

 

How does black cohosh work?

There have been many theories about how black cohosh works, but exactly how and what it is that makes it work are still being determined. Up until now, the theory has been that it contains phytoestrogens that bind to estrogen receptor sites, thus inducing an estrogen-like effect.

We now know from recent studies that black cohosh is technically a “Selective Estrogen-Receptor Modulator” (SERM). This means it selectively mimics estrogen in the brain and bone, but not in the uterus—or estrogen-dependant cancers. In one study it compared favorably with raloxifene (a SERM sold by prescription for osteoporosis), though with less potency. 

It’s likely something in black cohosh is interacting with some part of the estrogen signaling pathway, but not the estrogen receptors. This gives the benefit of some of estrogen’s good effects, without the negative effects.

The bottom line seems to be that black cohosh does not stimulate estrogen receptors, which can promote cancer. This makes it a very safe alternative for osteoporosis and hot flashes.

May reduce risk of osteoporosis

There’s more good news. A preliminary recent German study indicates that black cohosh may prevent bone loss in menopausal women. The study examined the effects of black cohosh extract on bone density in rats that had their ovaries removed. Typically, bone loss is accelerated after menopause, or in this case, after the removal of the rats’ ovaries, their main source of estrogen.

The rats were divided into three groups: one received a normal diet, the second group received a normal diet plus raloxifene (a SERM sold by prescription for osteoporosis) and the third group was fed a normal diet with black cohosh extract.

The rats given black cohosh had significantly lower markers for bone loss in their urine. They also showed a reversal of the effects of ovariectomy on bone loss. These results were similar to the group given the prescription SERM, raloxifene, which is currently used to prevent osteoporosis. These exciting results led the researchers to conclude that a longer-term clinical trial of black cohosh for the treatment of osteoporosis is warranted.

Who should use black cohosh?

Although the herb has been used traditionally for hundreds of years, the recent scientific research validates its effectiveness and proves its safety. Many women never have hot flashes, and for those who do, the annoyance lasts only a few years. BUT, because black cohosh exerts positive effects on the brain and bone—which have nothing to do with hot flashes—every menopausal woman can benefit from using it long-term to help prevent osteoporosis and mental changes. Additionally, perimenopausal women can use it safely long-term to prevent symptoms of PMS and future bone health and menopausal symptoms.

Is black cohosh safe for everyone?

So far, we know that black cohosh is not recommended for pregnant women. The question of whether the herb is safe for women with breast cancer has been questionable, although a recent study at the University of Illinois in which it was found to be non-estrogenic indicates that it is. 

These researchers at the Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute, Northwestern Medical School, also found that black cohosh does not promote the growth of breast cancer cells.

For general use, and even among women who have had breast cancer as we saw in the previous cited studies, black cohosh appears to be extremely safe. According to Dr. B Kligler, a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, “Adverse effects are extremely uncommon, and there are no known significant adverse drug interactions.”

How will black cohosh make me feel?

  • Less irritable
  • Clearer mind
  • Calmer emotions
  • Fewer mood swings
  • More peaceful sleeping patterns
  • Relief of hot flashes, night sweats

Taking black cohosh is a gentle way to naturally treat menopausal symptoms and deal with some of the physical and emotional stresses unique to perimenopausal and menopausal women. In addition to getting relief for hot flashes, night sweats, and other menopausal symptoms, women typically report they feel less irritable, have a clearer mind, calmer emotions, fewer mood swings and better sleep.

The importance of taking standardized European pharmaceutical-grade black cohosh

Unfortunately, as black cohosh has become popular as a natural menopause treatment, a large number of products have been marketed that do not meet the exacting pharmaceutical standards of quality required of black cohosh products marketed in Europe as pharmaceuticals. It seems safe to say that if you want to get the amazing benefits of black cohosh you must use a high-quality extract like has been used in all the scientific research. Only black cohosh extracts that meet European Pharmaceutical Standards satisfy this quality criteria.

The keys to reaping the benefits of black cohosh are patience and consistency, since it may take three to four weeks for its effects to be fully realized. Consistently using a recommended daily dose of standardized European pharmaceutical-grade black cohosh is one of the safest and most effective ways to naturally deal with the physical and emotional stresses unique to perimenopausal and menopausal women. With the recent flurry of scientific research on black cohosh, it seems clear that it is the best choice for anyone looking for a natural and safe alternative to synthetic estrogen therapy.

Taurine Protects Heart, Eyes and Improves glucose tolerance

Amino acids are the components of proteins. These amino acids are strung together like the links on a chain, where they form the proteins that make our bodies work properly. There are a few exceptions to this rule, amino acids that perform their function individually, not as components of proteins.

-Taurine is one such amino acid. In fact, taurine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body.

 

What does taurine do?

Taurine is a non-essential amino acid produced by the body through the synthesis of two other amino acids, methionine and cysteine. It is an important component of bile acids, which are used to absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins. It also regulates heartbeat; maintains the stability of cell membranes; transports calcium in and out of cells; and regulates the activity of brain cells. It is also a potent antioxidant.

Taurine is believed to play a role in treating a number of conditions, including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, and retinal damage.

Normally our bodies manufacture taurine rather than obtain it from our diet. It is produced by a combination of cysteine, methionine and vitamin C, but low amounts of these substances can in turn lead to taurine deficiency.

Can we get taurine from food?

Taurine is found in eggs, dairy products, fish and red meat. If you’re a vegetarian you probably suffer from a taurine deficiency … and if you’re a meat eater, it’s unlikely that you’re taurine deficient. But as we age we may not produce an optimal amount of taurine … and research has shown that it’s definitely worth taking a taurine supplement—regardless of your diet—because our need for taurine can often exceed our normal dietary intake or our body’s ability to manufacture it. And taurine has tremendous health benefits when you get more than what your body normally needs to prevent a deficiency.

Much of the impetus for this research has been based on the discovery that cats require a dietary source of taurine, or they develop dramatic health problems including reproductive failure, growth retardation, retinal degeneration and heart failure. In fact, taurine is so important to the health of felines that it is now added to cat food to ensure their health and longevity. While this has been a tremendous help in enhancing the health of our cats, there are many reasons why we want to make sure we are getting extra amounts of taurine every day.

A powerful antioxidant

Taurine is an important antioxidant in the body, and especially high amounts are found in the retina of the eye.1 Deficiencies of taurine are known to cause retinal lesions and visual deterioration, which can be reversed with dietary taurine.

In a 1975 study, a diet deficient in taurine was associated with retinal degeneration in cats.2

Protects against macular degeneration

Taurine is believed to enhance the rods and cones—the pigmented epithelial cells in the retina of the eye that serve as visual receptor cells. The greatest visual acuity occurs in the macular area of the retina near where the optic nerve enters from the back of the eye. As we age, the macula commonly degenerates as rods and cones die, which can result in blindness. The cause of the degeneration is unclear, but it occurs more commonly in diabetics and may be the result of free radical damage from ultraviolet light or oxygen exposure.3

Heart health

Your heart beats more than 2 billion times in your lifetime, transporting blood and oxygen to your body’s various systems. One consequence of aging can be heart failure, a decreased ability of the heart to pump out all of the blood that flows into it. Research has shown that in humans taurine enhances the contractile strength of heart muscle and is believed to help prevent heart failure.45 

In a 1984 animal study, taurine protected against heart failure, reducing mortality by 80 percent in the taurine-treated group with no diminishment of cardiac function.6 In a later animal study in 1988, taurine was shown to lower blood pressure.7

Taurine has also been shown to prevent the development of atherosclerosis in animals with elevated cholesterol levels.8
Helps protect normal brain activity

Large amounts of taurine are also found in the brain. Recent in- vitro research has shown that among its brain-specific roles, taurine helps prevent the damaging oxidation of certain neurotransmitters implicated in Parkinsons disease9, in addition to its already established neuroprotective roles.10

Improves glucose tolerance

One of the negative consequences of our “sugar laden” modern diets is the harmful effects of excess fructose. In animals, high fructose diets are known to cause a diabetes-like syndrome and dramatically lower antioxidant levels and glucose tolerance. Supplements of taurine have been shown to effectively counter this in laboratory animals.11 Taurine works by increasing the action of insulin, improving glucose tolerance and enhancing antioxidant levels12—which are important functions to balance the negative effects of high sugar diets.

Decreases risk of muscle damage

Large amounts of taurine are also found in muscle, where it is believed to play an essential role. Taurine has shown the ability to lower muscle damage from intense exercise, and improve performance.13 Exercise depletes the muscles of taurine14, making supplementation essential for anyone concerned with getting the maximum benefit from their exercise program.

Enhance your health with taurine supplementation

Although there is no set required daily allowance for taurine, a good multinutrient supplement will contain 250mg per daily dose.

There is overwhelming evidence, however, based on the research that’s been done, that all of us could benefit from increasing our taurine intake to 500-2000mg per day.

So, do what our feline friends do. Add taurine to your daily nutritional supplement regimen. You may not gain nine lives … but you might just gain health benefits that you wouldn’t want to pass up in this lifetime.

Coconut Oil: Tooth Decay’s New Enemy

 
 
 
By Katie Meakem
Mon, Sep 10, 2012
 

Coconut oil is used in hair care and skin care products and now scientists are saying that it could be used in dental care products to fight tooth decay.

Researchers from the Athlone Institue of Technology in Ireland said that coconut oil treated with enzymes blocked the growth of the main cause of tooth decay, streptococcus bacteria.

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in your mouth create acids that decay teeth, according to WebMD.com.

Bacteria feed on sugars in food, make acids and then the acids attack your teeth for at least 20 minutes after eating.

Tooth decay affects more than one-fourth of 2-5 years old in the United States and about half of all children have had decay, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers tested the effects of coconut oil along with vegetable oil and olive oil. The oils were then treated with enzymes to create a process similar to digestion and tested against streptococcus bacteria, BBC reported.

According to the researchers, only the coconut oil treated with enzymes stopped the growth of most strains of streptococcus bacteria.

Coconut oil is made up of mostly saturated fats, but its 60 percent concentration of medium chain fatty acids is what makes it different from the other oils.

Also, when lauric acid, a fatty acid in the coconut oil, is digested it converts into monolaurin, which is helpful in fighting harmful bacteria, reported Organicfacts.net.

The ability of the enzymes to transform the coconut oil into an active acid was what was thought to stop the growth of the bacteria, but the enzyme-altered oil’s exact mechanism is unknown.

The properties of coconut oil make it a wonderful oil to cook with, nourish your hair and fight bacteria in your mouth. The possibilities are numerous with this oil and researchers are taking notice.

 

Osteoarthritis and Obesity: The Crippling Combination

 

Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla

Arthritis is the single greatest cause of chronic pain and disability among Americans. Eighty percent of Americans either have or know someone with arthritis, and the numbers continue to escalate. Though there are more than 100 forms of arthritis, 54 percent of arthritis sufferers have osteoarthritis (OA), commonly known as “wear and tear arthritis.” Women, Hispanics and African Americans are the three population segments that suffer most from OA. It’s no coincidence that these same three groups have the highest levels of physical inactivity. Women are almost twice as likely as men to never engage in significant physical activity, and almost 51 percent of African Americans and Hispanics are physically inactive. So, where is all of this “wear and tear” coming from?

Excess body weight directly impacts weight-bearing joints, especially the knees. Just 10 extra pounds of body weight places an additional 30-60 pounds of force on the knee with each step. The constant stress of such a weight load causes the cartilage that cushions the bones on either side of the joint to erode. This is why knee osteoarthritis is four to five times more common in overweight people than in people with a normal body weight. If obese women decreased in weight to be classified as simply overweight, and women in the overweight category lost enough weight to fall into the normal weight category, knee arthritis among women would decrease by up to 33 percent. Alarmingly, because childhood obesity has reached an epidemic level, the road to OA is likely to begin long before the age of 40.

However, osteoarthritis is not always preceded by weight gain or obesity. Sometimes just the opposite occurs. Reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrate that arthritis sufferers are significantly less likely to be physically active . It is a common belief that people with arthritis need to rest their joints. As a result, many arthritis sufferers decrease their physical activity for fear of increasing pain or making symptoms worse when activity and exercise would actually work to relieve their pain and stiffness. In fact, almost 44 percent of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis report no leisure time physical activity. Thus, for many uninformed patients, what begins as painful movement can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. This may descend into disability, causing them to gradually go from a normal weight to obesity. In this process, every pound gained represents four pounds of pressure on knees and six times the pressure on hips, creating a vicious cycle of pain, inactivity and weight gain. In the medical community, this is referred to as “co-morbidity.” Co-morbidities are diseases that work together to worsen a patient’s condition. In this case, osteoarthritis and obesity are known to be co-morbid diseases.

As osteoarthritis and obesity worsen, the level of disability and pain may reach the point where joint replacement surgery is the only remedy. But obese patients’ poor health status can lead to medical complications during surgery. The surgery may take longer and be more difficult, and infection, bleeding and blood clots are more likely to occur. Even after a successful surgery, some individuals never achieve the full post-operative mobility improvement experienced by normal weight patients.

No matter how the cycle begins, obesity and OA are inextricably linked and must therefore be addressed together. Physical activity is key to reducing the risk of developing both, as well as countless other related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and stroke. Change begins with individual choices made based on perceived challenges and benefits. Therefore, it’s vital that we educate and persuade those that are most at risk that the challenges are surmountable, and that the benefits are attainable and worthwhile. A woman of average height can decrease her risk of knee osteoarthritis by 50 percent for every 11 pounds in weight that she loses. This is a perfect illustration of how patients, empowered by information, can take personal responsibility for the prevention and management of co-morbid conditions and avoid the need for medical intervention.

While long-term solutions are needed, short-term action plans are critical to curbing our nation’s epidemic rates of obesity and OA. On Sept. 18-19, Movement is Life will convene in Washington, D.C. for its third annual National Caucus on Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Health Disparities. With a mission of decreasing gender and racial/ethnic musculoskeletal health disparities by raising awareness of the impact of early intervention on chronic disease management, the link between obesity and OA will be at the forefront of discussions. By involving stakeholders from a multitude of disciplines, we will take steps to reduce disability, encourage physical activity and improve the overall health of the nation.

Gluten Free Cookies

Friday, September 14

The Kitchen Prep

Feeds 12
 

Ingredients
6 tablespoons softened butter
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1 cup GF baking mix {I used Pamela’s Products brand}
3/4 cup GF rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
1/4 cup whole flax meal
1/4 cup whole flax seeds
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped walnuts {I only had a few tablespoons left in the pantry so mine weren’t too nutty, but add as many as you want}

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and water until fluffy.
2. Mix in the flour, oats, flax, and dried fruit and nuts.
3. Refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour, for the flax and oats to soften.
4. Scoop the dough by the rounded tablespoonful onto greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Using the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup, flatten dough balls into 1/2 inch disks. {Dip into granulated sugar to keep from sticking.}
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes.

Is Greek yogurt better for you than regular yogurt?

The Foodie Physician 8/30/12

You may have noticed that Greek yogurt is everywhere these days.  Although it’s long been a favorite ingredient for chefs and foodies, it’s only recently become mainstream.  Greek yogurt, which is a staple in other parts of the world such as Europe and the Middle East, is richer and creamier than traditional yogurt.  Now it’s popularity has spread to the US and sales of Greek yogurt have skyrocketed in this country.  Multiple brands of Greek yogurt are popping up in grocery stores and many major yogurt manufacturers are introducing lines of Greek yogurt to get in on the competition.  You may have even seen other new products using Greek yogurt, including frozen yogurt and granola bars.
 
So why is Greek yogurt so popular?  Is it really healthier than its traditional counterpart?
 
Both types of yogurt are made with milk that has had live bacterial cultures added to it, causing it to ferment.  The fermentation process thickens the yogurt and gives it a tangy flavor.  The yogurt is then strained to remove the liquid whey.  The difference between the two types of yogurt is that Greek yogurt is strained much more extensively to remove most of its whey.  Because it is strained so much, it takes a lot more milk (up to 4 times as much) to make the same amount of Greek yogurt than regular yogurt.  The result is a thicker, creamier texture similar to sour cream.
 
Here’s how Greek yogurt stacks up compared to regular yogurt:

  • Protein- Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt- almost double the amount. The high protein content helps keep you feeling full longer.  It’s a great option for breakfast to give you long-lasting energy throughout the morning.  It can also be a good source of protein for vegetarians.
  • Carbohydrates- Greek yogurt has less (roughly half) carbohydrates than regular yogurt because a lot of it is lost during the extensive straining process.  This makes it a great option for anyone watching their carbs, including diabetics.  But be careful because the carbs can add up if you add a lot of sweeteners to your yogurt.
  • Fat- Greek yogurt actually has more saturated fat than traditional yogurt.  Saturated fats in your diet should be limited because they raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.  So, if you’re going Greek, choose the fat-free or low-fat varieties instead of full-fat.  The good news is that the lower fat versions are so creamy and thick, you won’t miss it.
  • Sodium- Greek yogurt has less sodium than traditional yogurt because a lot of it is lost in the straining process.  This makes it a great option for anyone watching their sodium intake.
  • Calcium- Greek yogurt has less calcium than regular yogurt because once again, some of it is lost through the straining process.  Although Greek yogurt still contains a good amount of calcium, if you are worried about your calcium intake, make sure you get adequate amounts from other sources.

So what’s the final verdict?  With more protein combined with less sugar and sodium, Greek yogurt does have a nutritional edge over regular yogurt- just be sure to choose fat-free or low-fat varieties.  But with this said, keep in mind that both types of yogurt are good for you and provide probiotics that are beneficial for digestive health- just make sure the label states that it contains live, active bacterial cultures.