I’ve been pretty quiet of late, as I knuckle down to finish off the last few months of my Master’s of dietetics.
After finally completing a gruelling 60 days of clinical placement in a busy Melbourne hospital, I’ve been lucky enough to secure a community placement at Dairy Australia. I’ve always been pretty vocal on my kinship with dairy foods – in fact nine of my past blog posts have featured dairy as a main topic!
Even so, after a few days of talking dairy non-stop, I’ve got milk, cheese, and yoghurt on my mind more than usual. Did you know nearly 90% of Australians consume dairy daily, but very few meet the recommended number of serves per day? The 2012 National Nutrition Survey also found calcium intake to be below requirements in every State and Territory except Tasmania.
But it’s not only our bones that may be missing out on the calcium contained in dairy products. You may be surprised to know dairy based foods bear a whole host of other benefits…
They are packed with protein – Protein is needed for growth and repair of muscles, and plays a role in forming enzymes and hormones like adrenalin in our body. Dairy products are a good source of high quality protein, made up of casein, and whey. The protein in milk, cheese, and yoghurt is considered high biological value, that is, it contains plenty of essential amino acids (those that can’t be produced by out body) in a readily digested form.
Contains 10 essential nutrients – Aside from being a well-known source of calcium, and their valuable protein content, dairy foods also deliver nine other essential nutrients:
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin B12
They’re not associated with weight gain, and can even assist with weight loss – Contrary to popular belief, as part of an energy-restricted diet, dairy foods can assist in greater weight and body fat loss than an energy equivalent dairy-free diet. Furthermore, the latest evidence shows full-fat dairy products may have little impact on weight gain, and may in fact show protective benefits against obesity.
Milk can function like a sports drink – With a composition similar to that of electrolyte drinks (Think Gatorade and Powerade), a humble glass of milk can provide comparable rehydration after exercise. A study carried out by Griffith University found the combination of energy, protein, and sodium in milk-based drinks was even more effective in fluid recovery than sports drinks.
Good for the gut – Yoghurt contains bacteria called probiotics, which are known as ‘friendly’ bacteria that promote gut health. These good bugs are useful for restoring a balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the intestinal tract. Since much of the lactose is broken down through the fermentation process, yoghurt is often easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance.
…And let’s not forget that calcium
It’s a key nutrient for healthy bones, and dairy foods provide a valuable source of calcium. Sure, you can find it in plant sources like green leafy vegetables and almonds, but the absorption is far more efficient from dairy foods. Plus, what would life be without cheese?