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Semi-solid sourish food made by adding either the lactobacillus bulgaricus or streptococcus lactis bacterias to milk; this can come from a cow, goat, sheep or camel - depending on where you are!
Yoghurt is an ancient food - the process producing an end result more stable than untreated milk in warm countries. Abraham is mentioned as eating a goat's milk yoghurt in The Old Testament and Genghis Khan ate yoghurt made from mares' & yaks' milk. It has been popular in the South-Eastern Europe and the Middle-East ever since, its name coming from the Turkish word yogurut meaning life.
It was first recorded in Western Europe in the 16th century, when the French king Francis 1 sent for a Turkish doctor to treat his constant stomach trouble - yoghurt was prescribed with success, and its virtue as a healthy drink has persisted. It is certainly more easily digested than milk (and suitable for most people who are Lactose intolerant, as long as they build up on their intact slowly), as the fermentation that producers yoghurt converts most of the lactose (dairy sugars) in milk to "Lactic acid".
In the early 1900's the Nobel prize-winning scientist, Ilya Metchinikoff, named the traditional consumption of live yoghurt as the reason for the longevity of people from the Smolyan district of Bulgaria - he claimed that the cultures it contained acted as a kind of antibiotic which fought toxins. Modern scientists might agree to a point, but would probably claim that it was actually yoghurts probiotics (containing "good" bacteria) which keep the digestive system more healthy. See also "Health Foods"; "Probiotics"
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