Should you include dairy in your diet?

Dairy – good or bad? Dietitian Joel Feren busts a few myths.

I find myself endlessly spruiking the benefits of dairy foods, and with good reason too. Not only are dairy foods downright delicious, they are also extremely healthy – the evidence doesn’t lie.

Dairy foods provide a nutritional punch. They contain more than 10 nutrients important for our general health, nervous system, muscle function, energy levels and of course bone health.

More specifically, dairy foods are a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B12, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous, as well as protein and low GI carbohydrates. Eliminating dairy foods unnecessarily from your diet means you’ll be missing out on more than just calcium.

“Dairy foods are a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B12, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous, as well as protein and low GI carbohydrates.”

Is dairy fattening?

I often get asked if dairy foods are fattening. The answer is that some are – ice cream and cream are high in calories and should only be included occasionally. But milk, cheese, yoghurt and even custard should form part of your daily intake.

In fact, studies show that people who regularly consume dairy foods as part of energy-restricted diets may be better able to maintain their weight and have a reduced risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. The reason may be due to dairy’s impressive nutritional profile.

What about inflammation?

There is a commonly held myth that dairy foods increase inflammation. This can indeed be true if you have an allergy or intolerance.

However, a 2015 review of the current clinical evidence, published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, actually showed that dairy has significant anti-inflammatory properties for people without dairy intolerances.

How to increase your dairy intake

Most of the population does not meet their recommended intake of dairy foods. This may help explain the high rates of osteoporosis in the elderly population.

Luckily, including more dairy into your daily diet is easy. Add milk to your cereal or porridge and perhaps include a dollop of yoghurt on top too. Snack on yoghurt, custard, cheese and crackers in between meal times. Add ricotta or feta cheese to salads and pasta dishes. Down a glass of milk after the gym or before bedtime.

Embrace dairy foods as part of your diet. Go and get yourself a milk moustache and wear it proudly. I certainly do.

Recommended reading - Exercise for health and social benefits

Lifestyle

Getting kids into sport

We take a closer look at some of the best sports programs for kids.

Read more
Lifestyle

How to find free fitness activities

Want to know about outdoor activities happening in your community? You've come to the right place.

Read more
In Brief

How a dinosaur helps kids get active

Meet Mimi the muttaburrasaurus: Medibank’s newly created play space in the Yarraville community.

Read more
Lifestyle

How to start running with your kids

Find out how exercising with your kids is beneficial for both of you.

Read more
Community

Feel Good: Free outdoor fitness in Brisbane

The Medibank Feel Good program comes to Brisbane from 26 September to 13 December 2016.

Read more
Community

Neon Run

Get ready for lots of light, colour and action! The Neon Run is nothing like your standard fun run.

Read more
Community

4 reasons to join a running group

Tired of running solo? Introduce a social aspect to your training and join a running group.

Read more
In Brief

Walking groups for better health

Joining a walking group is one of the best ways to improve your health, new research shows.

Read more
Community

Meet the joggers and walkers of Melbourne’s Tan track

The Tan track is a jogger's Mecca, with runners and walkers pounding the pavement morning and night.

Read more
Advice

Four reasons to join the fun run community

Part social, part fitness and often charitable, here are four reasons to sign up for a fun run.

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.