The agricultural world has blessed us with many gifts, ranging from plant to animal products. Both products play an important role in the human diet, as they are rich sources of vital nutrients, which are essential in healthy living. Dairy products, specifically, are a type of animal product that is vital in maintaining a healthy diet one way or the other. So, what exactly should you expect from adding dairy products to your diet?
Before mentioning the roles they play, it is important to mention that there are multiple types of dairy products. They are primarily sourced from the milk of mammals such as, and not limited to, cows, goats, sheep, camels and various species of domestic buffaloes. Since the dairy products are sourced from different animals, they vary in levels of butterfat content. Additionally, the different production processes they go through are essential in setting them apart. Some renowned dairy products include; milk, butter, cheese, casein, yogurt, clabber, gelato and ice cream just but to mention a few.
Dairy products bear a host of benefits when it comes to promoting a healthy diet. Various articles published by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and The Dairy Council stated that dairy products are a rich source of nutrients comprising of; Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin D, Zinc, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Vitamins (A, B12 and C), Zinc, Iodine, Riboflavin and most importantly, Proteins.
The first nutrient, calcium, is crucial in both bone and teeth development. For growing individuals, especially, calcium and Vitamin D are essential in promoting increased bone mass, which greatly reduces the risk of osteoporosis in adulthood. Additionally, calcium deposits ensure that your teeth remain healthy and strong. Phosphorous and Iodine both play roles in energy production in your body. Phosphorous promotes energy production while Iodine regulates it. Zinc greatly boosts your immunity while Vitamin B12 promotes the healthy production of cells in your body. Moreover, Vitamin C facilitates the formation of healthy connective tissues that works hand in hand with magnesium’s role of promoting good muscle function. You must be more familiar with proteins and how they help with growth and repair in the body. Vitamin A, which is also very common in carrots, ensures that you maintain your 20/20 vision. This all goes without mentioning Riboflavin, one of the main nutrients that give you that healthy glow on your skin.
Those are just but the main roles of the nutrients found in dairy products. Continued research has shown that regular intake of low-fat dairy products not only reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes; it also reduces your chances of being obese. Calcium and Magnesium, both richly found in dairy products, greatly help regulate your body’s blood sugar levels ensuring that they are always normal. A low fat level in whole and skimmed products is the main factor that helps you regulate your weight, preventing obesity. Additionally, Potassium also plays a major role of maintaining healthy blood pressure levels in your body.
Studies have also shown that diets containing dairy products greatly reduce the risks of both cardiovascular diseases and various forms of cancers such as colorectal and breast cancers. Some naturally occurring elements in milk such as Calcium and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (C.L.A) deserve most of the praise when it comes to preventing multiple chronic diseases.
Although their benefits are clear, dairy products also have their fair share of negative effects. Firstly, most dairy products contain a wide range of contaminants. These are obtained through the feeds the commercial animals are fed on and also the hormones they are injected with to promote growth. Ingesting these products may prove to be harmful to your body in the long run. Additionally, dairy products have been reported to be a cause of iron deficiency in infants, and hence are not recommended for children under the age of 1. A study carried out by researchers from Harvard University also noted that women who had low levels of transferase, the enzyme responsible for the metabolism of dairy products, increased their risk of contracting Ovarian Cancer by up to 3 times by consuming dairy products. Furthermore, lactose intolerant people risk contracting allergies and other symptoms such as diarrhea if they consume dairy products. Research is however ongoing.
All in all, information is power. Dairy products are very nutritious, although it is important to consult a physician so that you know what amounts you should consume. Moreover, the physician can also diagnose any preexisting conditions you may have that may affect your intake of dairy products. In addition to this, emphasis should be put in consuming low-fat dairy products since they are far much healthier. Although they bear some defects, dairy products are surely healthy, and hopefully this article will guide you in making the right decisions when it comes to incorporating dairy products into your diet.