Milk is the Nectar of the Gods, or so some would have you believe, but is this really the case and what benefits can milk have for us.
By its mere definition milk is the sustenance young mammals require to grow so it is easy for us to assume that milk has positive impacts on our well-being but did you know much of the world are lactose intolerant or do not consume milk but still meet all of their dietary requirements? Drinking cows milk, eating dairy products such as yogurts and cheese can help to contribute to meeting recommended dietary needs but what if culturally you do not eat dairy, have a lactose intolerance or cows milk protein allergy?
If you cannot tolerate cows milk, you can still get calcium from your diet .
Examples of non dairy calcium alternatives;
Fortified Oat, soya, or almond milk are good sources of vitamin D and Calcium. However, organic alternatives do not contain fortification and therefore do not contain enough calcium or vitamin D. There are many fruit, nuts and vegetables that also contain calcium , protein and healthy fats.
There are also many dairy alternatives in the uk such as dairy free cheese and yogurts which are fortified with minerals and vitamins needed. Did you know that a cows milk quality is also dependant on their environment ? For example in the Northern hemisphere such as in The United Kingdom Vitamin D from u.v rays is only available between the months of April- October . This also applies to animals being able to synthesise vitamin D. If the milking cow never has the opportunity to go outside, they will not be able to synthesise vitamin D and therefore the milk will not be rich in vitamin D or calcium. Calcium is reliant on enough vitamin D to absorb calcium and utilise it in the body so if the cow is unable to get access to Vitamin D then the milk will also be deficient in calcium. However milk can be a good source of calcium in the diet if all the right conditions are met.
Here are 5 points to remember about dairy milk and its alternatives:
- Milk and fortified alternatives contain a variety of nutrients that help to improve bone health.
Studies suggest that consuming good quality milk or soya on a regular basis may prevent osteoporosis ,reduce the risk of fractures and help with reducing bone loss during and after the menopause, especially soya products which contain phyto-estrogens.
- Dairy Milk contains a wide array of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. Some of these minerals and vitamins include calcium, magnesium ,zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D to support a healthy diet.
All of these factor into a healthy lifestyle. One small example is the prevalence of vitamin E and beta-carotene, which help in reducing inflammation and fighting oxidative stress. Another miraculous example is the conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in milk. These are linked to many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- Milk is a vital source of protein as one cup can carry as much as 8 grams of our daily recommended intake.
With the average person having to consume between 46 and 56 grams pf protein a day. Milk can form a large part of a protein rich diet. Milk and soya are considered “complete proteins” with as it contains all nine essential amino acids required by our bodies to run at an optimal level. The high levels of protein can also be beneficial to athletes in building and repairing muscle tissue. Soya is the only non animal product to be considered a complete protein so if you are feeding a milk alternative to an under 5 then soya milk is more beneficial to health than alternatives and rice milk is NOT recommended to under 5s . There are specific recommended Soya milks for young children with extra calories.
If you would like help with meeting your or your infant’s dietary needs then from a science based background and with personal experience I can help you. Just drop me and email to book a consultation.