Join us on a dairy journey and we examine the benefits and results of consuming dairy and the impact that it might have on your results. Dairy products or foods made from milk have often been frowned upon in the world of nutrition. Dairy has either been good or bad for you depending on the latest diet trend or a new study. Recently, I was asked if dairy should be completely cut from the diet for weight loss. The answer is most definitely no.

This led me to right this blog which will highlight:

  • why including dairy in the diet is beneficial
  • the reasons that people often have a negative view on the food group and
  • a mention to recent studies providing interesting insights to the area.



The Benefits & results of dairy


Dairy products contain an array of nutrients including:

  • protein
  • calcium
  • vitamin A, B1, B12, D
  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • zinc and
  • phosphorus.


Milk, yoghurt and cottage cheese are good sources of calcium. This builds and maintains strong bones and reduce the risk of fractures. Up to the age of 50, adults are recommended to take 1000mg of calcium per day. Women 50+ are advised to increase this to 1300mg per day. Males should be increasing to this figure when reaching their 70’s.

The increase is to help slow down the bone loss that occurs as you age. Women are more susceptible to this due to the reduction in oestrogen levels in menopause. As oestrogen helps prevents bones from getting weaker by slowing the breakdown of bone, its reduction during menopause greatly speeds up bone loss.

Dairy products such as milk are often fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D is of course needed to absorb calcium. Despite these clear benefits, when it comes to the overall health impact of dairy, the research is mixed with some studies warning against too much consumption, and others advising to increase your intake.



The Conflicting evidence with dairy


For many years the advice was to avoid full cream dairy products. This was done with the rationale that high saturated fat levels found in full fat products increase cholesterol levels. This was thought to have negative effects on heart health.

The current recommendations are not so black and white. Contradicting news articles are being published based on recent studies finding positive, negative and neutral associations with dairy and cardiovascular disease risk. Of course, this is going to be confusing and leads to questions on if avoiding dairy altogether is the way to go.



The Scientific Answer


We often simplify nutrition by focusing on single nutrients. However it is very rare that we will eat a food that will provide us with only one vitamin, mineral, fat, protein or carb as we eat whole foods. Dairy foods such as milk and cheese are foods which have many health benefits. They also contain unwanted compositional factors.

Recently, nutritional scientists have been investigating how a foods nutritional composition does not always predict its health effect. Looking in to how the interplay between nutrients have a varying effect on our health. It is possible that negative effects from the saturated fat and salt found in dairy content may be diminished from this interplay.

This dairy matrix is explained as studies have shown that calcium from dairy foods help to build bigger and stronger bones than supplements. This is believed to be due to the effects of phosphorus and protein which enhance the calcium uptake. It suggests that even with a high saturated fat and salt content, the overall biological makeup of the food may enhance health markers.

Nevertheless, there is a reason that the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating three servings of dairy daily.



Full fat or fat free?


Another underlying debate is if you should reach for full or reduced fat options when picking up dairy products in the shops. Sometimes, opting for low or no-fat versions may sacrifice some of the crucial vitamins and minerals that you are buying the product for in the first place.

The American heart Association still recommends opting for low fat or fat-free dairy foods. The Australian National Heart foundation advised that people only with elevated cholesterol or heart disease should opt for low fat or fat free. For everyone else is personal preference.

All i’ll say for example is that a cup of milk can vary between 250mg to 350mg of calcium depending on the brand and fat content. Low fat often is stripped of protein and contains only fractions less overall fat. So read your labels and decide where you will get more bang for your buck!



Dairy in summary


Dairy has some great benefits and will certainly help with your results. Whilst it is not vital in the diet for optimal health, it is certainly useful. However for the majority of people, including dairy in the diet is the easiest way to consume the correct amount of calcium, vitamin D and protein. This will in turn allow for a healthy heart, bones and muscles. If following dairy free diets or have dairy intolerances, extra care must be taken to ensure you get these nutrients in the body. If dairy works for you great, if it does not, get some more calcium in your daily food plan!


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