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Why is milk good for us?

Even toddlers know that milk makes you strong and healthy. Milk and dairy products provide us with approximately 75% of the calcium we need and include other important vitamins and minerals.


Dairy proteins are complete proteins because they include essential amino acids that the body can’t produce by itself.

Cow's milk comprises around 87% water, but this high water content is not a flaw – it is necessary to dilute the milk's components. Thus, the water in milk is absorbed into the blood at a suitable pace.

It is often falsely believed that milk fat promotes hardening of the arteries. People digest milk fat well and it is a good source of energy. Its digestion is made easier by its relatively low melting point, suitable content of fatty acids, distribution of fat particles and their specifics of absorption in the intestinal tract. Whole milk will not make anyone fat, as is often feared, because a glass of 2.5% milk gives you just 120 kcal (skimmed milk: 80 kcal). Energy from milk is especially important for a growing body, which is why children should not be given fat-free milk. Light milk does not have the fatty acids which have anti-infection properties for some pathogens, and fat-soluble vitamins are lost. Milk fat is a good source of vitamins A and D, the latter of which is needed for digesting the calcium in milk.
30% of cow's milk fat is oleic acid, which can also be found in olive oil. The synthesis of lipid compounds (prostaglandins), which are necessary for bone renewal, is based on the linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid found in milk fat.

Milk includes up to 5% lactose, i.e. milk sugar, which as a carbohydrate is a an important source of energy, especially for children. Lactose helps the body absorb calcium and phosphor and regulates the growth of bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Unfortunately, many people are scared by the fact that milk fat includes cholesterol and so do not dare to drink whole milk, not to mention eating butter. But the body needs cholesterol: it holds around 140 g of cholesterol, and food intake should add a further 250-350 mg per day. It is true that if there is too much cholesterol in the body it will set on blood vessel walls, cause the blood vessels to narrow and become fragile and thus increase the chances of a heart attack. To avoid this, you should eat more foods rich in fibre along with drinking milk. These foods will help bind the excess cholesterol and remove it from the body. Thus, whole milk and dairy products go well with wholegrain products and vegetables rich in fibre.

Milk is the main source of calcium

Calcium: Calcium is the building block of the body. It is an important component in human bones and teeth. It is also important in sending nerve impulses to and from the brain, in muscle activity and in the coagulation of blood. A long-term calcium deficit may lead to bone disease in later life.

Cow's milk includes lots of minerals, including the important macro elements calcium, phosphor, magnesium and potassium and the micro elements copper, iron, zinc, fluoride, aluminium, boron and selenium. All of these minerals are important to the metabolism and blood strengthening.
A person gains 240 mg of calcium from one glass of milk (average rate for adults: 1000 mg; up to 1500 mg for elderly people and pregnant women).
When consuming whole milk, calcium is easily digested thanks to the vitamin D found in the fat. Due to the favourable ratio of calcium to phosphor (and calcium to protein), calcium is easily digested, ensuring correct bone density and blood pressure. The lactose or milk sugar found in milk also promotes calcium absorption.

If a person cannot drink fresh milk, they should consume soured products (kefir, yoghurt, curds etc.) but should not leave milk out of their diet. By consuming milk we ensure that we have strong bones and avoid bone density issues in later life.
Whole milk is an important source of vitamins because it includes nearly all water- and fat-soluble vitamins. The latter (vitamins A, D and E) are important for better calcium absorption. Among the water-soluble vitamins, the most relevant are all B-group vitamins, which first and foremost keep our nervous system in order. This is also why it is advised to drink warm milk and honey before bed to ensure a good night's sleep.

It is recommended to drink milk in order to:

  • ensure proper bone density;
  • keep blood pressure and cholesterol at normal levels (14% of milk fat fatty acids raise the cholesterol level while 45% lower it);
  • reduce damage to teeth enamel and the chance of developing intestinal cancer;
  • reduce blood pressure in the case of a sodium-sensitive (NaCl) increase in blood pressure; and
  • reduce insulin-independent diabetic hypertension.
  • Consuming dairy products promotes muscle growth (1)
  • and aids recovery after physical exercise (2).
  • New research shows that consuming dairy products provides protection against breast cancer (3).

Sour milk products enriched with live bacteria:

  • help treat stomach and intestinal diseases, especially in later life;
  • help avoid intestinal infections;
  • aid the absorption of B-group vitamins;
  • increase the body's immunity;
  • help the body rid itself of toxins; and
  • improve the metabolism.

Sources:

1. Roy BD "Milk: the new sports drink? A Review". J Int Sports Nutr 2008, 5: 15.

2. Ferguson-Stegall L, McCleave E, Doerner PG, Ding Z, Dessard B, Kammer L, Wang B, Liu Y, Ivy JL "Effects of Chocolate Milk Supplementation on Recovery From Cycling Exercise and Subsequent Time Trial Performance" International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Abstract Submissions 2010, 2(2)

3. Dong JY, Zhang L, He K, Quin LQ "Dairy consumption and risk of breast cancer; a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies" Breast Cancer Res treat 2011, 127(1):23-31

 


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