Keeping your skeleton in good condition is so important – our bones protect vital organs and make movement possible.
Using high-calcium products, such as dairy, to bolster our system isn’t just crucial for a healthy, white smile and strong bones, but yoghurt, milk, and cheese can have all sorts of other physical benefits for the body.
Our natural source of vitamin D is sunlight, and seeing as there’s not a lot of that in the UK, we need to get as much as possible from elsewhere. Many brands of milk are fortified with vitamin D – an essential component for calcium absorption.
Without vitamin D, our bones can’t take on the calcium they crave. Drink low-fat milk to enjoy a vitamin D boost and a hit of calcium. However, if you have children under the age of two, give them full-fat milk – they’re growing quickly and they need the power.
You can take calcium supplements, but studies show that sourcing your calcium from food increases bone density more effectively, so cheese-eaters have healthier bones than pill-poppers! To meet your daily calcium requirements, you should get four cups a day. Examples of one cup servings include either: 1.5 ounces of natural cheese, 2 cups cottage cheese, 1 cup milk, or 1 cup yogurt.
As we age, we naturally lose bone density, but osteoporosis is becoming a rising concern for many people, especially women. Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become brittle and break very easily. In women over the age of fifty, one in every two ladies will have a fracture, thanks to osteoporosis. Sometimes this means that the vertebra in the spine collapses a little, creating a hump and loss of height.
Many people don’t realize they have the condition, until they have a serious fracture or break. Unfortunately, this can lead to disability and loss of independence – most certainly a lot of pain.
Spanish researchers studied 5,000 people and discovered that those who regularly ate low-fat dairy had a 54% lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those who consume dairy minimally. It’s believed that the proteins in low-fat dairy have a blood pressure-lowering effect.
Other than being an excellent source of calcium, yogurt contains bacterial cultures that boost the body’s immune system and help sensitive stomachs. Always opt for natural yogurts or probiotics, as these contain the most nice, friendly bacteria. Frozen yogurt has few of these little critters, so you don’t get as many of the health benefits.
Dairy can be high in fat, so always choose low fat options and eat creamier foods in moderation. Too much saturated fat can create weight problems, raise cholesterol in the blood, and provoke many health problems. Just check the label for nutritional content before you buy.
Dairy foods are more important than ever during pregnancy, as calcium helps your baby’s bones develop properly. Some cheese or dairy products should be avoided though, as they can make you or the baby poorly – only drink pasteurized milk and products made with that form of dairy.