I like dairy foods. They are pretty super. They provide at least TEN essential nutrients including protein, carbohydrate, Vitamins (A, B12, and riboflavin) and minerals (Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and zinc), and do wonders for keeping our bones & teeth strong.
But unfortunately, as a population we are not doing so great at ensuring we keep our bones strong and I thought I would investigate the common reasons why we may demonise dairy.
1. Cutting back on dairy foods will help me lose weight
Recent research has shown this is not the case and in actual fact, including dairy products may have modest benefits in facilitating weight loss in short term or energy-restricted diets. While researchers are still trying to work out why, but it is believed to be related to the unique combination of nutrients in our dairy products. The protein has a satiating effect and can keep us fuller for longer, and dairy calcium may reduce the amount of fat your body absorb.
Personally, my choice of snack is a tub of Chobani greek yoghurt – and if I think back to my uni days, I think some people would question whether the dietetics class was sponsored by Chobani with the amount of tubs laying around our clinical nutrition handbooks and nutrition care plans…
2. Eating dairy foods can cause acne
The Australasian College of Dermatologists states that hormones, blocked glands, bacteria, inflammation, genetics and stress can cause acne. They mention that certain diets may contribute to the development of acne, however good scientific data is lacking.
At this point, ensuring we eat a healthy, balanced diet including plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods will ensure your skin gets all the nutrients it needs.
I will admit, I did give this one a go. Everybody is different and I wondered if my persistent mountain ranges were potentially being impacted by my three tub per day chobani addiction. I knew there wasn’t solid evidence but I didn’t see no harm in it – I’m equipped with the knowledge to ensure I was still receiving adequate calcium.
What did I learn? Well it didn’t help my pimples. The staff room is not the place to eat sardines. Having non-dairy milk at breakfast is hard. My bank account thanked me for going off CHO for a while. And cutting out a food group is hard. Milk, cheese, yoghurt – easy when it’s within your normal routine. But I always forgot when I was out – like I chose an almond milk or soy latte, but I still ordered crumpets with rhubarb and marscapone.
And I didn’t even consider my trips to Messina.
Really, life is far too short to cut out unnecessary food groups.
3. Lactose intolerance suffers should completely avoid dairy foods
People with lactose intolerance do not need to avoid dairy foods. In fact, up to 250ml milk may be well tolerated if it’s consumed with other foods or throughout the day.
As for cheese, hard cheese actually contains little lactose, and lactose in yoghurt is already partially broken down so should be well tolerated.
4. It’s easy to meet your calcium requirements with plant foods
Back in the nineties (?) there was a milk ad on television. I cannot recall which brand but in this milk advertisement there was a lady that said you could eat this ridiculous size bucket of broccoli or simply drink a glass of milk. While she may have been exaggerating just a little, she was right.
Non-dairy foods do contain calcium.
However, our body treats calcium in foods differently. The amount of calcium that is absorbed from the food and used by our bodies is known as its bioavailability.
The bioavailability of calcium in milk, cheese & yoghurt is approximately 30%.
The bioavailability of our leafy greens – broccoli, kale & bok choy is 45-60%.
So, we better have kale smoothies for breakfast right?
Actually no, while calcium may be more bioavailable in those leafy greens, the calcium content of these vegetables is much lower.
So unless you want to eat 5 cups of broccoli, it’s probably a tad easier to grab a latte from your local café.
5. Flavoured milk isn’t good for kids
Flavoured milk contains the same ten essential nutrients as plain milk, and while it does contain small amounts of added sugars, providing your kids with a serve of flavoured milk can play a part in helping them achieve their dairy serves. Unfortunately, according to the CSIRO, only one in five Aussie primary school children are consuming enough serves of Dairy to meet their recommended daily intakes of calcium, so there is definitely some room for improvement!
With active kids, enjoying chocolate milk as part of a healthy, balanced diet shouldn’t be a problem. It’s important to remember that some of the sugar is naturally-present lactose. It’s also better better than soft drink. It’s a better snack than a packet of chips. So, the benefit of protein, and those essential vitamins and minerals often outweighs the small amount of added sugars. It’s a case of focusing on foods, not nutrients.
This coming Monday, the 3rd August, marks the start of Healthy Bones Action Week.
Healthy Bones Action Week calls on Australians of all ages to take the three actions to build and maintain healthy bones. I wrote about these last year here.
Ensuring adequate calcium, weight bearing exercise & adequate Vitamin D.
Stuck for ideas on getting dairy into your day? There’s 25 delicious ways here.