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Dairy is LEGENDAIRY!

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What do you get when you throw nutrition bloggers, researchers and health professionals together with Dairy Australia? Networking over beautiful cheese platters and a magnificent yoghurt bar, and an afternoon of learning about research in unnecessary dairy and wheat exclusion in today’s diet.

If you’re interested in the Paleo diet, check out associate professor of nutrition and accredited practicing dietitian Tim Crowe’s blog post on the role of Paleo diet and diabetes management.

Dairy is an important food group many Australians are not eating enough of. The demonizing of dairy in popular fad diets such as the Paleo diet and detox diets doesn’t help its case either. Is dairy really as bad as some make it out to be? Last week, I was invited to a nutrition bloggers networking event hosted by Dairy Australia and Legendairy followed by the Dairy Australia Scientific Symposium 2014. Not only did I get to meet some of the leading nutrition bloggers while pushing my lactose sensitive gut to the limits, I was privileged to hear about current research around the effects of unnecessary dairy and even wheat exclusion from diets from leading experts in the field. Here’s a summary of the research at the symposium.

One of my favourite post exercise or bedtime snack is a glass of milk with some strawberry Nesquik or Milo. Delicious, packs a protein punch and keeps my bones happy!

One of my favourite post exercise or bedtime snack is a glass of milk with some strawberry Nesquik or Milo – delicious, packs a protein punch and keeps my bones and BGs happy!

Calcium has long been associated with bone health. Adequate intakes of calcium, alongside with regular exercise and sufficient vitamin D helps to decrease the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. In Australia, the top three calcium containing foods we consume are milk, cheese and yoghurt, which predominantly make up our dairy food group. Dairy foods are also an excellent source of nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.

For diabetes management, dairy foods have a low Glycaemic Index or GI (slow energy release). This means that dairy containing snacks such as a tub of yoghurt or a glass of milk is more likely to keep you feeling full for longer without a major spike in blood glucose (BG) readings. Find out more about the GI in dairy foods.

A survey conducted by Dairy Australia in 2014 showed that one in five Australian adults limited or avoided dairy foods. Common reasons for this included concerns over weight gain and beliefs that dairy foods didn’t agree with them or a self-diagnosis of lactose intolerance. But lactose intolerance doesn’t mean you need to cut out dairy from your diet forever! Most hard cheeses contain low levels of lactose, which is the sugar that some people aren’t able to break down, leading to symptoms of bloating, diarrhoea or stomach upsets. Yoghurts are also usually well tolerated as the bacteria in yoghurt helps to break down the lactose. If you love your milkshakes, you can still have them alongside with some lactase tablets to help break down the lactose. These can usually be bought over the counter at pharmacists, but always check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking them.

Not sure what would be worse for my tummy - a glass of milk or 9.5 cups of red beans!

Not sure what would be worse for my tummy – a glass of milk or 9.5 cups of red beans!

There are few foods that provide the same amount of calcium readily absorbed by the body per serve compared to dairy foods. Foods such as canned fish eaten with bones, green leafy vegetables, almonds and legumes also contain calcium, but in much smaller amounts compared to milk, cheese or yoghurt. Additionally, cutting out or limiting dairy foods increases the risk for nutrient deficiencies as well as setting up for poor bone health later in life. So if you’re adamant in heading down a path of no dairy or have an allergy to dairy, always choose products that are calcium fortified or enriched. For recipes and ideas on how to incorporate dairy foods in healthy meals, check out the Dairy Kitchen via Dairy Australia. I know I will definitely be checking them out as they seem to have some delicious cake recipes too!

One serve of dairy is equivalent to one glass of milk (250ml) or 200g of yoghurt. Are you getting your daily dairy serves?

One serve of dairy is equivalent to one glass of milk (250ml) or 200g of yoghurt. Are you getting your daily dairy serves?

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Dairy Australia Nutrition Bloggers networking event and the Dairy Australia Scientific Symposium. Whilst they did feed us with a scrumptious spread of cheese platters and a DIY yoghurt bar (!), I have not been paid to write this article for them. 

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Pancreatically challenged, diabetes advocate, PhD student and dietitian - working to positive changes within the diabetes community and healthcare setting. Although diagnosed at age of 19 with T2DM, the type of diabetes I have is under constant debate. Finally pumping as of March 2014.

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