Is milk really good for our bodies?
Well, not every body but certainly for most bodies in Australia. It excels in nutrition and value. Milk is a good source of quality protein, that is easily digested and rich in minerals such as calcium and It is also a good source vitamin B & D1.
What makes a protein good quality? And why do we need these vitamins and minerals?
The protein in milk is said to be high quality, this is due to it containing all 9 essential amino acids in quantities that humans need to function properly, for example, fighting a virus2. Some protein found in food, such as plant proteins, do not contain all these amino acids and thus are of lower quality3. Another factor that makes the protein in milk high quality is its digestibility, at least 95% of the amino acids will be absorbed by your body which is much higher than some other proteins3.
As you may already be aware calcium helps maintain bone strength, this is particularly important for females due to hormonal changes that occur later in life which causes bones to break down faster than they rebuild, possibly leading to osteoporosis (1 in 2 women in Australia will develop this) 4. It is, therefore, essential in adulthood to lay down the foundation for strong bones in order to maintain bone density later in life1.
Now that we know the importance of calcium, how can you help your body to absorb it? Vitamin D… also found in milk! its key function is to increase calcium absorption in the gut5. It also helps to strengthen your immune system and give you healthy glowing skin1.
Vitamin B12 – helps with nerve function so even a small deficiency can impair memory, spatial ability, and performance in tests1.
For the many people who choose not to consume milk, one assumption that they make is that they are lactose intolerant. In fact, lactose intolerance affects a large percentage of African, Asian and Pacific Islander people but for populations that have a predominance of dairy food in their diet (such as in Australia), as little as 5% are affected6.
But milk makes me fat!
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends at least 2.5 serves (depending on your age and gender) of food from the dairy and/or alternatives group per day. With obesity a key concern in our society, low-fat dairy is the recommendation. In fact, drinking low-fat milk can actually help you lose weight. Studies show drinking it can decrease your body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and body fat percentage. Not only can it offer a more favourable body composition but adequate dairy intake may help the incidence of type 2 diabetes and improve the metabolic risk associated with obesity 7.
Doesn’t milk have antibiotics/hormones in it?
All milk, traditional and organic meet the quality standards set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and must be free of antibiotics and pesticide residue before it gets to our shops or markets, thereby making it a very safe product8. And just in case you are wondering, hormones are not permitted for use in dairy farming in Australia. At the end of the day, dairy farmers love their cows and want to keep them happy and healthy. Milk being the end result of this process is a wonderful and nutritious and value for money product often misunderstood.
How much should we be having?
2.5 serves every day of food from the dairy and/or alternatives group per day for men and women aged 19-509.
1 serve of milk =250mL
Don’t get me wrong soy milk and other milk substitutes have their place for those who have allergies or who are lactose intolerant but for myself you will always find a bottle of cow’s milk in my fridge.
 E. Whitney, S. R. Rolfes, T. Crowe, D. Cameron-Smith and A. Walsh, Understanding Nutrition: Australian and New Zealand Edition, Melbourne , Victoria : Cengage Learning, 2011.
 National Health and Medical Research Council , “Protein,” 09 April 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/protein. [Accessed 2016 November 2016].
 National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Dietary Guidelines, Canberra, ACT: National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013.
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare , “Estimating the prevalence of osteoporosis in Australia,” 2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129548481. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
 National Health and Medical Research Council , “Vitamin D,” 09 April 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-d. [Accessed 16 November 2016].
 P.E.N, “Lactose Intolerance,” 23 August 2012. [Online]. Available: http://www.pennutrition.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=1820&trid=1826&trcatid=38.
 K. J. Murphy, G. E. Crichton, K. A. Dyer, A. M. Coates, T. L. Pettman, C. Milte, A. Thorp, N. M. B. J. D. Berry and R. C. Peter, “Dairy Foods and Dairy Protein Consumption Is Inversely Related to Markers of Adiposity in Obese Men and Women,” Nutrients, vol. 5, pp. 4665-4684, 2013.
 Food Standards Australia New Zealand, “Primary Production and Processing Standard for Dairy Products,” 2008. [Online]. Available: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/primaryproduction/dairy/documents/Part%201-%20Jan%20081.pdf. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
 National Health and Medical Research Council, “Australian Dietary Guidelines,” 2013. [Online]. Available: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n55. [Accessed 17 November 2016].