Dairy Dos and Don’ts

The intent of this post is to clear up any myths you may have heard about dairy products being unhealthy.  It seems as though more and more people are under the impression that dairy causes weight gain and does more harm than good to the average person’s diet.  After doing the research, I can say in confidence that those ideas are myths and that dairy is an important part of a balanced diet.  While there are certainly dairy products that are high in fat, cutting the entire food group from your meal plan is not the answer.
  • You must stop eating dairy products in order to lose weight
  • Milk is for kids and does not need to be included in an adult diet
  • If you take calcium tablets you do not need to drink milk
  • Spinach is as good of a calcium source as milk
  • Dairy will lead to health problems like heart disease and asthma

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese provide essential nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins A, B12, and riboflavin, and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.  These nutrients are essential for adults and children, alike.  While you can find these things in other food sources, dairy products are often a good way to get several nutrients knocked out at once, so to speak.  Adding just a glass of milk per day to your diet will provide you with a strong start!   
Contrary to popular belief, the consumption of calcium rich dairy products actually has a positive correlation with weight loss.  When our bodies aren’t getting enough calcium they begin to release a hormone called calcitriol.  Calcitirol promotes the production and storage of fat and also reduces the process of fat breakdown.  For this reason, among the obvious others, it is important that we are getting enough calcium in our diets.  There is more calcium in a 250ml glass of milk than there is in 16 cups of spinach.  In addition, milk and other dairy products provide other essential nutrients that calcium tablets, alone, can’t provide.  These facts make dairy the clear choice for getting calcium.
In regards to dairy products playing a part in things like heart disease and asthma, there are a few facts that debunk these myths.  While heart disease can be caused by diets high in fat, eating low fat dairy products have no correlation with the ailment.  The cause of asthma, on the other hand, is rarely ever food related.  While most people who suffer from asthma struggle with things like dust, pollen, and exercise, less than 2.5% of those people are effected by food and drink.
Keeping these things in mind, I encourage you to keep a balanced diet that includes dairy.  Be smart about your dairy choices and try to look for things that are lower in fat or fat free.  While saturated and trans fats are something we should all try to avoid, unsaturated fats will make up about 20% of a balanced diet.  Take a chunk of that 20% and dedicate it to dairy.  You may be pleasantly surprised in the way that you look and feel!