Lots of scientific evidence behind the health benefits of milk
Milk is a cornerstone of nutrient-rich foods which are part of healthy eating patterns. Research continues to prove the numerous health benefits of milk and milk products. Scientific evidence goes beyond healthy bones and teeth to include effects of milk on immunity, reducing selection cancers, blood pressure, increasing satiety among dieters and supporting weight management efforts, among other health benefits.
Healthy Bones and Teeth
Observation and intervention research studies show there is a favorable link between milk consumption and healthy bones. Milk is an excellent source of calcium that is important for healthy bones. Children need calcium to build bones while growing while adults need the mineral to maintain their bones and to prevent osteoporosis.
Other nutrients in milk such as phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, vitamin D (in fortified milk) and protein are also vital for the health of our bones. Milk is also important for strong and healthy teeth. It also prevents cavities and tooth decay. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization acknowledge the role of food in strong bones and overall body health in this report.
Contrary to popular opinion that dairy products lead to fat gain, a growing amount of research indicates that milk and other dairy products can play a positive role in weight management in both children and adults.
A number of research studies have suggested that a dairy-rich diet is associated with less body fat, lower body weight, less abdominal obesity and low fat gain. Other studies indicate that incorporating dairy products in a weight loss diet can enhance weight loss.
Protein and calcium from milk likely play a role in weight loss, through influencing appetite and satiety, energy use and fat absorption. From the prevailing science behind milk, it appears if you are trying to lose weight, avoiding milk or milk products can be counterproductive.
Clinical and observational studies imply that milk and dairy products intake, could have a health benefit on blood pressure besides preventing hypertension.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, has been shown to be effective at reducing blood pressure. Milk and milk products contain numerous bioactive components and nutrients that may be involved in the favorable outcomes on blood pressure.
The Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service; 2010 made similar observations.
The primary focus on dairy products and cardiovascular disease is usually in relation to saturated fat. People assume that since some milk products contain saturated fatty acids, dairy intake increases the risk to cardiovascular disease. However, most epidemiological studies have not shown adverse effects because of milk or milk products intake.
In fact, with regard to milk, it has been shown that it enhances cardiovascular health irrespective of the fat content in the milk. The possible explanation for this might lie in the multifaceted composition of milk, which besides containing saturated fat; contain other bioactive components and nutrients such as bioactive peptides, calcium and phosphorus that are favorable to cardiovascular health.
Obviously maintaining a healthy lifestyle is paramount. Exercising and eating well are important. Additionally, get yourself a gym membership, keep a bowl of fruit on the table and make sure that things in the bedroom are as lively as possible (for something completely different – try tantric positions)!
Type 2 diabetes
Scientific evidence is growing that milk and milk products may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk.
Different components in milk and dairy products could be involved in the protective associations including calcium, protein, magnesium and fatty acids, together with the mechanisms associated with fermentation. Because the number of persons with type 2 diabetes is on the rise, any small protective barrier could have vital public health implications. Find out more about the relationship between milk and milk products intake on type 2 diabetes here.
Preventing some cancers
There is an increasing body of evidence that milk and milk products intake may protect against some types of cancers. For milk, in particular, studies have indicated reduced risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer with higher intake. Check here and here.
The protective mechanisms are likely associated, at least in part, with calcium. The other components in milk which may also be involved in cancer protection include the sphingolipids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), vitamin D (in fortified dairy), vitamin K2 and probiotics.
Premenstrual syndrome fighter
A study by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst recently suggested that women who take milk are less likely to develop clinical premenstrual syndrome (PMS). See more from this article. PMS affects about 8%- 20% of women greatly compromising their quality of life.
Maintenance of muscle mass in older people
Evidence suggests the possible role of milk and other dairy products in maintenance of muscle mass as well as function in elderly people. Some research studies (links to downloadable PDF) have pointed to the benefits of milk protein in relation to increasing synthesis of muscle protein in older members of the society.
There is evidence too, that elderly individuals with higher milk and milk products consumption have more muscle mass and healthier functional capacity. Besides the high-quality proteins for muscle maintenance and function, the rich composition of nutrients and bioactive components in the milk and milk products provide valuable benefits to the older people.
Recovery after exercise
Though this quite a new research area in the science behind milk, studies show promising results. Evidence suggests that drinking milk can provide effective rehydration after an exercise session because of the electrolyte and fluid content in milk. Protein component in milk also promotes muscle synthesis and recovery from soreness and damage after exercise.
Practically speaking, milk is an inexpensive, accessible and convenient postexercise rehydration solution. The National Dairy Council concurs with this assertion.
Studies have indicated that drinking milk reduces mortality in men and women. This can be attributed to the numerous health benefits of milk that are backed by solid scientific evidence. In general, individuals who include milk in their diets are healthier than those who do not. This translates to higher life expectancy.
Milk and milk products have numerous health benefits. Research evidence continues to uncover the science behind milk confirming more and more health benefits of consuming milk and milk products.