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Dear Dairy:

There has been a push by nutritionists over the past few years to encourage us to have at least three servings of dairy every day. It's no wonder - dairy is good for you! In a recent study, it was det...

There has been a push by nutritionists over the past few years to encourage us to have at least three servings of dairy every day. It’s no wonder – dairy is good for you! In a recent study, it was determined that if North Americans would just eat three to four servings of dairy each day, health care costs would go down over $26 billion in just one year.

Eating dairy products regularly will save you more than money. Even though we all know that dairy products build strong bones and teeth, we may not be aware of the other health benefits. Dairy can help us maintain a healthy weight and keep our blood pressure under control, reducing our chance of heart disease and stroke.

As well, it can help us avoid osteoporosis, arthritis, obesity, and some cancers (colon, breast).

The mix of different nutrients in dairy maximizes bone density and minimizes age-related bone loss. Research has shown that there is direct link between hip fractures and not regularly drinking milk throughout a person’s life. Drink milk to keep your bones strong.

Another interesting side-effect from drinking milk and eating dairy is that it can reduce the pain of osteoarthritis, especially in the knees. In a recent study of over 650 people 50 and older, researchers found people who drank milk every day felt less arthritic pain, with less swelling and warmth, on a long-term basis.

Drinking milk can also save you pain at the dentist’s office. Dairy foods such as milk and especially cheese play a protective role in dental health. Studies have shown that milk does not cause cavities and may even protect you from getting them. As well, eating these types of cheese is especially effective for protecting against cavities: cheddar, swiss, blue, monterey jack, and processed American.

The calcium, potassium and magnesium found in dairy products also help keep your blood pressure down. A large government study in the US recently showed that a balanced, low-fat diet rich in fruits, vegetable and low-fat dairy products could help reduce blood pressure as effectively as many prescribed medications.

Even so, not even 25% of us are getting the required three servings per day. Most get less than half of what we need. Yet, even though we could easily get a serving every day by eating a bowl of cereal each morning, skipping breakfast has become a habit.

I know, like 40% of North Americans, you’re too busy for breakfast. “Not enough time,” is an excuse, but how much time does it really take to pour a bowl of cereal and eat it? Even though we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we don’t make it a priority.

A simple bowl of whole grain cereal with a cup of milk (and some added fruit as a bonus) packs a great nutritional punch.

However, many people skip breakfast because they think it will help them lose weight. But, in fact, it does the opposite. The unique mix of nutrients in dairy should help you lose weight and stay slim. For one thing, its combination of calcium and protein speeds up metabolism, making it easier for you to burn fat.

Among overweight participants in a study (involving more than 3,000 young adults for over 10 years) it was shown that when they ate more dairy products they had less chance of insulin resistance syndrome and its results: obesity; glucose intolerance; and high blood pressure.

Not only that, but with just one extra serving each day, the likelihood of having insulin resistance syndrome went down substantially – 21%.

As well, eating dairy products daily may lower the risk for certain cancers. According to the latest research, it appears that the more calcium, vitamin D, and dairy foods you eat, the less likely you will get colon cancer. Dairy products also protect against breast cancer.

With all these benefits, it’s clear that three servings of dairy is a good investment for your healthy future. Your only choice should be whether it’s three cups of milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese, or three ounces of hard cheese. You decide.

– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

Truck News

Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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