Pros and cons of dairy food
IS your health suffering as a result of too much dairy in your diet?
Don't get me wrong, milk is not a bad food to be avoided wherever possible.
It's delicious, easy to eat and requires almost no preparation.
It's so convenient you can eat too much and elbow other valuable foods out of your diet.
This food group wears a "good for you" health halo which can be a trap.
How much dairy is in your diet already?
Milk on cereal, a cappuccino, cheese on salad, butter on toast, yoghurt as a snack, some ice-cream after dinner?
You can see how it could add up quickly. For an average person, two serves of dairy per day is enough.
(One serve is one cup of milk, 250ml, or 100g yoghurt, or 28g cheese).
If you're eating more than two serves, you run the risk of missing out on other valuable foods; like vegetables and fruit.
There are also other reasons you might want to moderate your dairy intake.
There's a little-known fact about milk: It contains sugar. Naturally occurring sugars, but sugar nonetheless.
One cup of full-fat milk contains 12g of sugar (If you're reading this at a cafe, lay out three sugar sachets - that's 12g).
A cup of skim milk contains a little more - 15g.
Worse, because skim milk doesn't contain fat to slow down the sugar absorption, you're likely to experience a heftier blood sugar response, insulin spike and blood glucose fall as a result.
What is well known about dairy foods, however, are that they contain calcium, but so do plenty of other foods, especially green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seafood.
A widely accepted myth about nutrition is that you must eat dairy to prevent osteoporosis; but calcium intake and bone strength is the result of several different factors, not just how much calcium you eat.
Your digestive health, your hormone balance and weight-bearing exercise also play a part in determining your bone health.
Not everyone can tolerate milk, and suffer if they do consume it. Some people lack the enzyme needed to break down the sugar in milk, making them bloated and gassy.
That's lactose intolerance. Some people experience an immune reaction to casein, the protein in milk, resulting in sneezing, or a drippy nose, or skin rashes, or even joint pains.
That's dairy intolerance. For some dairy intolerant people, choosing A2 milk products may help: the casein protein in A2 is slightly different.
If you want to reduce the amount of dairy in your diet, there are lots of alternatives: soy milk, oat milk, rice milk and almond milk are easily available now.