Yogurt in Ayurveda

If you are often gassy, bloated, or suffer from indigestion AND you regularly consume yogurt, this article will change your life.

Yogurt has gained popularity recently as a health/diet food because it often has a low fat, high protein and high calcium content, especially the “euro” and “greek” thicker styles you’ll find on the market.

In Ayurveda, foods carry qualities like light, heavy, wet, dry, hot and cool that then create an effect in the body; often the effect on the body is close to the quality of the food consumed. For example, a plate full of french fries have a heavy, oily, starchy-sticky quality which is easy to see, and once consumed create a heavy, sluggish feeling or effect in the body.

The qualities of yogurt are cold, thick, wet and sour (because it is fermented), and the effect on the body is congestive, mucous forming and gaseous, often causing bloating and indigestion when taken in excess or when combined poorly with other foods. Thankfully, these qualities only apply to store-bought yogurt. Freshly made yogurt is light, easy to digest and improves nutrient assimilation, and is an effective remedy for indigestion and upset stomach.

To make sure you’re getting the most of your yogurt experience, here are a few Ayurvedic do’s and don’ts:

Yogurt Don’ts:

  • Do not mix yogurt with fruit* or granola: this combination creates the most gas as the fruit, grains and dairy each require different digestive processing times and enzymes in the stomach. Gas indicates poor food combining which reduces nutrient absorption and can then lead to poor digestion of the next meal.

*In Ayurveda, the only fruit that safely combines with yogurt is sweet ripe mango, hence the popular mango lassi in Indian restaurants. See more on lassi recipes below.

  • Do not have yogurt as a meal: Yes, the high protein/low calorie/low fat/high calcium content may tempt you to think this is a dietary breakfast or lunch gem, but yogurt is simply too heavy on the system to stand alone. Cultures that incorporate yogurt on a regular basis generally make it fresh and blend it with spices and digestive aides: think of the greek tzatziki yogurt-cucumber-dill sauce, Indian raita chutney or Indian lassi drinks featured here.
  • Do not use yogurt as an oil/fats substitute in baking recipes: Many recipe sites and sources will suggest substituting yogurt for the oil in baking recipes to lower fat and calorie content while keeping the baked goods moist. Combining yogurt with grains, fruits and nuts is another gas forming nightmare. Instead, use unsweetened applesauce to the same ratio substitution or consider lowering the sugar content instead to make your baking healthier and retain moisture.

 

Yogurt Do’s:

  • Do make your own yogurt: Fresh yogurt is economical and easy and the taste is like the difference between store-bought and home-made…anything! Fresh yogurt retains and delivers more calcium to the body and does not cause gas, bloating and indigestion. You can control the thickness and fat content by adding more or less water, even infuse it with flavors like vanilla or cardamom. Just remember to make it in small batches because after 48hrs yogurt continues to ferment and will then become just as irritating to the system as the store-bought varieties.
  • Make yourself a lassi drink: Lassi is an Ayurvedic medicinal tonic of fresh yogurt blended with therapeutic spices and cool water. Lassi is water:yogurt:spices in a 3:1:1 ratio and is designed to quickly dispell gas, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, anemia, fatigue and to regulate metabolism, just to name a few.  Medicinal lassi can be sweet, savory, even spicy depending on what spices are used.


Lassi is a good choice all year long but is especially effective in Summer months following a large meal or between lunch and dinner. The recipes below are fine for all doshas, although Kaphas (or those who tend to feel sluggish, congested and struggle with excess weight will benefit more from the ginger or savory recipe and should abstain from the sweet recipe).

Recipes:

Basic Yogurt:

Bring 1 cup organic milk to a boil in a shallow pan. Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature. Mix in 1 tablespoon of active culture store-bought yogurt, pour mixture into container, cover with a dish towel and place in your oven for 8hrs/overnight. Nope, the oven isn’t on! Just place it at the warm spot towards the pilot light. Must be consumed within 48hrs of making.

 

Lassi Tonic Recipes: 

Savory Lassi

  • 1/2 cup plain organic yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp finely crumbled mint (optional)

 

Sweet Lassi

  • 1/2 cup plain organic yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp rose water (optional)
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp sweetener of choice (raw honey or agave)

 

Ginger Lassi

  • 1/2 cup plain organic yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 thin slice of fresh peeled ginger
  • 1 big pinch cardamom powder
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp sweetener of choice (raw honey or agave)

 

 

 


About Kimberly Skrobol

A student of yoga since 1995, Kimberly has studied and taught in New York, Spain and southern India. She holds advanced international TUV ISO 9001 certifications in Yoga, Yoga Therapy and Ayurvedic Nutrition. Kimberly also holds a Masters in Education and a Masters in Health and Fitness as a Nationally certified Nutritional Counselor specializing in traditional Eastern and Western philosophies. 

 Kimberly’s unique approach is to blend the values of traditional practices with the pace of modern life. This results in a stronger body and mind with appreciation for each individuals preferences and lifestyle practices.
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2 Responses to Yogurt in Ayurveda

  1. Brooke says:

    Do you leave the yogurt out when it is set or put it in the refrigerator? Thanks, Brooke

    • Thank you for your question, Brooke. Allow the yogurt to set in a warm but not too warm spot covered with a cotton dish towel, I like the back of the stove or the countertop if you live in a warm climate. Once it has set completely (overnight/8hrs) store in the fridge. Best consumed within 2 days, but it will last as long as 2 weeks, just becoming thicker over time. Enjoy!

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