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Why Drink Milk?

This section highlights articles on the nutritional benefits of milk. Read on, and find out why it is so important to support your dairy farmers and drink milk!

Milk Does a Brain Good
An observational study of 972 adults in Maine and the Syracuse, N.Y., area suggests there may be a positive correlation between dairy consumption and cognitive performance.
Consumers of dairy products performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function than people who never or rarely consume dairy foods, according to Georgina Crichton, doctoral candidate at the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre at the University of South Australia.
The research will soon be reported in a scientific journal, she told Dairy Herd Management.
That particular study was observational in nature, where the researchers looked at diet and compared it to people’s performance on cognitive tests.
To better establish a cause-and-effect relationship between dairy products and cognitive performance, a randomized control trial is needed, she said. And, such a study has just been completed at the University of South Australia, she added.
In the randomized control trial, two groups were established among people with low dairy consumption (less than two servings of dairy per day). For six months, one group had its dairy intake increased to four servings per day. Then, the groups switched.
In both cases, the group with higher dairy consumption had significantly better working memory, Crichton says.
“It’s still too early to start saying it’s a cause-and-effect relationship,” she said.
There are a couple of possible explanations for the first of the two studies -- the observational research study involving Maine and New York residents.

•The same people who do better on cognitive tests may also be the ones with better lifestyles and dietary habits.
•The vitamins and minerals in milk have a beneficial effect on cognitive performance.
“Frequent dairy food intake is associated with better cognitive performance, but underlying causal mechanisms are still to be determined,” the researchers said.
Source: Dairy Herd Management January 31, 2012

Ten Common Myths about Dairy Foods
Milk and dairy foods provide the diet with at least ten essential nutrients which include high quality protein, carbohydrate, vitamins A, D, B12 and riboflavin, and minerals: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Three servings of milk or equivalent will provide the recommended daily intake of calcium for most people. In addition fermented dairy foods such as yogurt are considered excellent carriers of probiotic organisms and prebiotics which are known to be important in gastrointestinal health.
The following section addresses 10 common myths about dairy foods and provides the facts.
1 Myth: Consuming dairy products can lead to weight gain.
Fact: Weight gain occurs when one consumes more calories than the body can burn as energy. Contrary to this common myth, research both in animals and humans suggest that including three servings of low fat dairy foods in a calorie controlled diet may help achieve greater weight loss (Zemel, 2005). Clinical trials have also shown a strong correlation between increased calcium intake and reduced body weight, body fat percentage and waist size (Zemel, 2005).
2 Myth: Spinach is as good a source of calcium as milk.
Fact: There is more calcium in 1 cup of milk than there is in 16 cups of spinach. One will need to eat more than 48 cups of spinach to get the recommended daily intake of calcium (USDA, 2010). Furthermore, milk contains Vitamin D which enhances calcium absorption (Wasserman, 2004).
3 Myth: People with lactose intolerance should avoid dairy foods.
Fact: Lactose intolerance is often confused with milk allergies. Lactose intolerance is not an allergic reaction to dairy foods. Rather it is the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose. Lactose-free milk and yogurt are good alternatives to drinking milk for people that are lactose intolerant. Aged cheeses such as Cheddar and Swiss are also low in lactose. Many people with lactose intolerance can drink up to 1 cup of milk daily without problems (Miller et al., 2000).
4 Myth: Milk causes asthma.
Fact: While infants with milk allergies are more likely to develop asthma later in life, there are no scientific data that support that consuming dairy foods makes a person asthmatic.
5 Myth: Consuming dairy foods can increase the risk of heart disease.
Fact: A diet high in saturated fat regardless of the source will likely cause heart disease and not dairy foods. Recently, it was reported that the evidence linking saturated fat intake to heart disease is lacking (Siri-Tarino et al., 2010). Furthermore, today saturated fat from butter is believed to be not as bad as transfat filled hydrogenated vegetable fats such as margarine and other so-called ‘healthy’ spreads. Those still wishing to reduce their fat intake can consume low fat dairy foods and receive the nutritional benefits of dairy foods without the high fat (Berner, 1992; Miller, 2000).
6 Myth: If you take calcium supplements you don’t need milk.
Fact: Milk isn’t only a good source of calcium but it also provides other high quality nutrients such as high quality protein, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin; zinc; potassium and magnesium. Fermented dairy foods such as yogurt also serve as an excellent carrier of probiotic organisms and prebiotics, which are important for gastrointestinal health. Taking supplements does not provide the enjoyment of drinking a cold glass of milk; pouring cold milk on a bowl of cereal for breakfast; eating a creamy delicious bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day; or enjoying the pleasure of a creamy cheese sauce on nachos, or melted cheese slices on a hamburger.
7 Myth: Milk causes mucus.
Fact: After drinking whole milk or eating ice cream some people mistake the thin coat or residue in their mouth and throat for mucus. This is the normal creamy texture of milk fat which melts near body temperature and not excess mucus. A study conducted by Pinnock and co-workers (1990) reported that there is no association between milk and dairy products intake and mucus production in healthy as well as rhinovirus infected individuals.
8 Myth: Humans are not designed to drink cow’s milk.
Fact: Humans are designed to eat plant as well as animal products such as meat and dairy products. Domestication of cattle (and consumption of milk and dairy foods) date back to 6000 BC. We are equipped with the lactose enzyme in our gut that aids in the digestion of cow’s milk. Consequently humans have enjoyed consuming dairy foods over many, many centuries. If we were restricted to consuming milk only from our own species, we would not enjoy many of the dairy foods we enjoy today; such as blue cheese on our salads, ice cream on apple pie, sour cream on baked potatoes, Mozzarella cheese on pizza, shredded cheese on our tacos, and buttermilk in our pancakes.
9 Myth: Drinking milk can cause kidney stones.
Fact: Milk may actually protect against the formation of kidney stones (NHS, 1990). It was suggested that the calcium in milk may bind to oxalates in food so that they can no longer be absorbed by the body, reducing the risk of kidney stones.
10 Myth: Eating cheese and high fat dairy foods can cause acne.
Fact: Science does not support any link between acne and dairy foods. Importance of vitamins A and D in skin health is well established. Milk is a good source of vitamins A and D in the diet
Author: Zey Ustunol, Dept of Food Science and Human Nutrition, MSU
Good for Your Heart
New research suggests natural trans fat in milk and dairy products may lower heart disease risk
What's good for your kids may also be good for your heart. Recent research suggests milk could help lower heart attack risk.
Sweedish researchers claim milk fat lowers the risk of suffering from a first heart attack. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
To assess dairy fat intake and determine heart disease risk, the researchers measured blood levels of two milk fat biomarkers in 444 heart attack patients and 556 healthy people.
They found people with the highest milk fat biomarkers had a lower risk of suffering a first myocardial infarction. For women, the risk was reduced by 26 percent and for men, nine per cent.
Last fall, the European Dairy Association (EDA) held a conference aimed at changing negative attitudes toward dairy saturated fat. For instance, the Danish government is proposing a saturated fat tax on certain foods, including some dairy products.
The EDA argued not all saturated fats are the same, and some short chain fatty acids actually reduce cholesterol. It also claimed dairy products contain essential nutrients important for health.
On another note, a University of Alberta study indicates natural trans fat in dairy and beef products may reduce inflammation, a key risk factor for heart disease. Researchers fed laboratory rats dietary vaccenic acid (VA), a type of natural trans fat in dairy and beef products, over a 3 week period. They found inflammation decreased significantly during that time.
"The findings are quite significant because inflammation is now recognized as an independent risk factor for heart disease. Our results indicate that natural trans fat in beef and milk can reduce this risk," says Catherine Field, a lead member of the research team.
Human clinical trials are needed to confirm dietary VA health implications, says Field. However, growing scientific studies in this area indicate natural trans fat shows significant health-enhancing potential, she says.
The findings were published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Field and her colleagues are part of the CLA Network. It comprises reseachers, food industry representatives, health professionals and communicators who study conjugated linoleic acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid in all dairy and beef products.
Source: Milk Producer September 2010
Stressed? Eat Some Yogurt
Eating yogurt can contribute to the control of stress levels
Consumers have an ally in fighting stress, and it’s as close as their refrigerator. Yogurt, often touted as a key for weight and digestive issues, may be the ideal stress-buster.
The Today Show reports that eating probiotic yogurt may help make brains regular. A study by the University of Cork found that mice fed a diet of Lactobacillus rhamnosus (JB-1) were less likely to be depressed, anxious or stressed.
“A regular diet of probiotics changed the brain chemistry in the mice,” the article said. “Probiotics modified how the mice expressed receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA, suggesting that probiotics change neurochemistry."
The Food Network agreed, including yogurt in its top 10 list of stress-reducing foods.
“Work more calcium into your diet with non-fat or low-fat yogurt — a sprinkle of nuts and some fresh fruit will turn it into an ultra-satisfying snack,” the Food Network said. The good-for-you part: Yogurt contains probiotics that help create a healthy and calm digestive system.
The Food Network piece also suggested drinking more milk to relieve tense muscles using milk's B-vitamins, protein, vitamin D and calcium.
Source: Dairy Herd Network, Oct 2012

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