Dairy foods are one of the five major food groups we need to consume on a daily basis and they provide many essential health benefits to help your body run effectively.
The major nutrient found in dairy products is calcium, as well as potassium, phosphorus, proteins, vitamin D, A, B12, niacin, zinc and magnesium. These nutrients help benefit your body in many ways. They assist in weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight, sustaining healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis, lowering the risk of hypertension, kidney stones and heart disease, building and maintaining healthy muscles and even the prevention of some cancers.
The recommended daily requirement of dairy products for Australian adults is 3 serves. A serve can be 250ml of milk (full cream or non-fat), 200g of yoghurts or 40g of cheese (preferably low fat). Most of the research conducted suggests that low-fat dairy options are the best due to the amounts of saturated fats animal products can contain and the lower caloric value low-fat alternatives have.
The most important point we are constantly told when we are growing up is to drink milk for strong, healthy bones. This is important because obtaining calcium via foods, as opposed to supplements, is better absorbed by the body. Also if your body does not get enough calcium via your diet, it “steals” it from your bones to maintain adequate levels in your bloodstream. Over time this can lead to the onset of osteoporosis and other possible bone diseases.
Recently, in society, more people are diagnosed as being lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy products every day. Lactose intolerance means your body no longer produces the enzyme necessary to digest the sugars founds in milk, called lactose. The symptoms associated with intolerances are diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress and flatulence. Allergies however, are incurable and can cause more severe symptoms such as respiratory distress, digestive problems and skin disorders. For those people there are alternative sources of calcium and vitamin D that can be consumed in order to meet their daily requirements, including soya-based milks, spinach, broccoli and some bread.
Overall, dairy products are back in fashion. They are a great way to keep your calories within the recommended daily limit and obtain essential nutrients your body needs to function. So make sure you have your 3 serves a day to ensure you are maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.