Why it’s really important to feed your kids curds twice a day

Ask any tam-brahm what a meal is like without tair-saadam? They’ll say life isn’t worth living. I’m no tam-brahm, but I still grew up in a house where curd rice was like dessert is to America. You never end lunch or dinner without swiping your palm across your plate and running your tongue across a layer of creamy whiteness off of it. I was the anomaly. I hated curds. I’d refuse to even sit next to a person eating it. My sister loved to taunt me with it, bringing her plate close to my nose so that I’d jump up and run away screaming.

That’s probably why she was easily the calmer of the two of us. What am I talking about? In an article published in The Atlantic, titled ‘When Gut Bacteria Changes Brain Function,’ David Kohn explains that the organisms in your gut actually control your thoughts and emotions. Did you know - there are 1,000 different species of bacteria in your stomach? It’s very important that their equilibrium is maintained in your kids. Otherwise, they could experience anxiety, depression and even other disorders like autism!

Why exactly curds help here

Gastroenterological researcher Stephen Collins in Ontario, Canada, found that two out of those 1,000 species reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. These are called lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, both of which are present in curds. They increase perseverance and reduce stress. Using this finding, another researcher called Mayer conducted a study with 25 healthy women. For 28 days, half of these women ate two cups of commercially available yoghurt a day. The others followed their normal diets. Curds contains live bacteria, which is great on the stomach. That’s why it’s called a probiotic, and that’s also exactly why kids who have diarrhoea or vomiting obtain immediate relief after drinking two glasses of buttermilk.

Both before they started eating this yogurt and and after their four weeks, these women were shown a number of images with different facial expressions like happiness, sadness, anger etc. Believe it or not, the women who’d been eating curds reacted much more calmly to these stimuli than those who hadn’t. Weird, right? “This was not what we expected, that eating a yogurt twice a day for a few weeks would do something to your brain,” says Mayer (as quoted by David Kohn).

What you can do

Apparently, scientists are still trying to figure out how exactly the bacteria in your stomach affects brain function. But we don’t have to wait for their findings; we now know enough to make changes in kids’, and our own, diets. On a daily basis, it might be hard to include curd in their lunch dabbas because it usually gets sour. But this is the best season in which to begin because it’s cold, and that’s what curd needs to taste good even after a few hours out of the fridge. I’d suggest any two of the following each day:

  • A glass of thick, chocolate lassi in the morning instead of Horlicks (you can shift milk to the evening)

  • A container of creamy Amul Masti Dahi for the mid-morning break

  • A small dabba of curd rice for lunch with whatever else you’re sending - with extra curd, since the rice is likely to absorb some of it in a few hours - with a little mustard tadka and lemon pickle

  • Dahi papdi or kachori chaat for an evening snack

  • If your kid prefers Horlicks in the morning, a glass of chocolate lassi after school

  • Pulao/biryani with onion raita for dinner

A few years ago, I finally began eating curds too because people told me how good it is for the tummy. And it’s quite funny to think about it, but I really am a much calmer person now. I didn’t make the connection till I read Kohn’s article, and of course there could be other factors (like growing up) associated with the changes in my temperament. But, hey, it’s good to know that you could actually change the way your brain is wired just by partaking in your favourite activity - eating!