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The real facts about dairy in your diet

Milk has been a diet staple for thousands of years, but in recent years it has become a controversial topic, whether for health reasons or ethical considerations

When it comes to making choices about whether to drink or ditch the dairy, what is rumour and what is fact?Essential nutrients
Dairy is an efficient way to ensure your diet contains essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which are important for bone health and blood pressure.


High in protein 
Dairy contains whey and casein, which are proteins needed as part of a healthy diet and often found in protein powders to support muscle growth. Dairy contains all 20 amino acids of the body, similar to red meat, and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes among other illnesses.


Bone health
Studies show that including dairy in your diet improves bone density and reduces bone loss and milk may be particularly important for pre and post-menopausal women. Research by the University of Western Australia found that women who supplemented their diet with dairy experienced less bone loss as a result.
 
 
Lactose intolerance 
Lactose is a dairy sugar, which is broken down by an enzyme in our bodies called lactase so that it can be digested. Research shows that the body’s ability to metabolise lactose differs by country and race. Only about five per cent of people from Northern European are lactose intolerant in contrast to 90 per cent of people from East Asian communities. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea, and diarrhoea, which can start 30 minutes to two hours after consuming dairy.

People experience lactose intolerance on a sliding scale of severity and experts advise that a good way to determine whether you have any intolerance to lactose is to remove dairy completely from your diet at first, adding back in different types one at a time to see how your body responds.

Whey and casein
Despite being in the one of the benefits of dairy, whey and casein are both can also be cons because they are a common food allergy in infants and young children. Most experts believe that you outgrow these allergies, but it is something to watch out for with your kids.

An ethical decision 
Some people choose not to drink milk and have other forms of dairy on animal rights grounds. However, others argue that this issue can be overcome by choosing dairy products of organic origin, which means that animals have high welfare standards.

Does milk contain antibiotics and hormones? 
In many parts of the world, dairy cows are given antibiotics to treat illness and hormones to encourage growth and productivity year-round.  Some health experts fear that this can lead to a residue of drugs filtering into milk.
Studies have found, however, that growth hormone from a cow has no biological activity in humans.  Again, the advice is to look for milk sourced from organic farm animals. The standards in which there are raised mean that they will not be given antibiotics routinely or given hormones.


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