Regular consumption of yoghurt helps strengthen the immune system because of the lactic bacteria it contains, according to Ascensión Marcos, of the Institute of Nutrition and Bromatology of the CSIC (Scientific Research Council). She was speaking in Palma at the third congress of the Spanish Basic and Applied Nutrition Society. Her paper analysed the potential benefits of foods such as lactic products, yoghurt, eggs, wine and beer. She explained that the lactic bacteria are living micro organisms which give yoghurt its properties which improve the defence capacity of our organism. The professor added that yoghurt modulates the function of the intestines and is recommended to prevent and treat diarrhea and also in cases of constipation. Dr Rosa Ortega of Madrid's Complutense University, spoke of the possibility of using food beyond its purely nutritional purpose, opening new prospects of health improvement. She also extolled the nutritional value of yoghurt, particularly calcium and vitamin B2, and said it was particularly recommended for adolescents, pregnant women and the elderly. Another of the basic properties of yoghurt was its contribution towards reducing the effects of lactose intolerance and improving the absorption of calcium, as explained by Dr Alfredo Martinez of Navarra University in his paper. The afternoon session included a debate on obesity. Speakers included Xavier Remesar of Barcelona University's biochemical department, on a molecule which produced reduction in appetite in animals, leading to weight loss, mainly of fat. Preparations are now being made for trials on humans. Today's sessions will cover artificial nutrition and serious pathologies, the relationship between antioxidants and health, the role of genetics in diet and the design of functional foods.

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