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  • Kelly Boyland

The Great Dairy Debate

There has been so much talk lately about dairy. Do we need it? Should we have it? Where will we get our calcium? It’s good for growing kids and building strong bones!

Australian Nutritional guidelines recommend we consume between 2-4 serves of dairy per day, depending on age and gender (even more if you're a female over 60!)

"Dairy foods are a natural source of 10 essential nutrients including calcium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, carbohydrate, protein, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and zinc. These nutrients are important for healthy blood and immune systems, eyesight, muscle and nerve function, healthy skin, energy and growth and repair in all parts of your body". (Nutrition Australia)

As a nutritionist, I don’t disagree. Dairy, especially milk, packs a big nutritional bang for the buck. It's tasty, versatile & most kids love it! But I find myself torn by the facts. We as humans are the only species that drinks mammary milk of another species, and not just as children, in adulthood as well. It feels weird when you say it out loud, right? Dairy milk is designed to rapidly grow a 600+ kilo animal. Think about it… a calf walks just hours after being born! The composition of dairy milk is extremely different to that of human breast milk. Containing twice the amount of casein (a slow digesting protein) than human milk, this makes sense for cows as they have four stomachs to digest such high levels of the protein. It takes a lot of time and energy for us humans to digest in our one stomach. So while human milk contains half the amount of protein as dairy milk (and in a completely different ratio of whey to casein) it also contains twice as much carbohydrates (lactose) as its bovine counterpart, used to fuel our big brains.

Studies have also shown that as humans grow into adolescents and then adults, we decrease the production of lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk for digestion. As adults, we no longer get our nutrients from our mother’s milk, rather through the consumption of whole foods. This decrease in lactase production has lead to around 70% of adults experiencing lactose intolerance to some degree (tummy pain, gas, bloating, diarrhoea). So biologically it doesn’t make sense to continue to consume milk in adulthood, our body is not equip for it.

There are SO many studies and SO many conflicting opinions and theories, I could go on forever. As a nutritionist and an HUGE supporter of the just eat real food movement (but like, real food, not processed packaged junk). I don’t like to recommend cutting out whole food groups (unless intolerances or allergies are present). It promotes disordered eating and exclusion and can dramatically impact the level of nutrients in ones diet. I am all about balance and inclusion, adding more of the good stuff so there’s less room for the bad stuff. But is dairy bad? It contains so many beneficial macro and micronutrients...yet the majority of the adult population don't tolerate it well. (Here we go again)

I agree with everything I’ve mentioned above. If you were looking for a definitive answer on whether dairy is "good" or "bad", sorry, I don’t have one. I do however, believe in bio-individuality, everyone is different. No two bodies are the same. If one diet works for one person, great! That doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. So with that in mind, if you eat greek yoghurt with your fruit and feel great or enjoy butter in your coffee (that's a blog for another time) with no unpleasant side effects then feel free to continue on your whole food journey friend, no judgement here. But if you feel dairy might not be right for you, maybe try 4 weeks without it and see how you go? It doesn’t have to be forever but it just might change your health.

In the mean time, I’ll continue my research and hopefully, in the near future, I’ll pick a side in the Great Dairy Debate! (Seriously though, this keeps me awake at night).

#TheGreatDairyDebate #Dairy #CowsMilk #Cheese #Yoghurt #Latte #Butter #Mylk #MilkAlternatives #AlmondMilk #CoconutMilk #CoconutYoghurt #CashewCheese

#LactoseIntolerance #NutritionAustralia #NotACow #OneStomach

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