Dairy products is one of the most neglected food groups in adults, it is part of the Sunnah, yet most people aren’t consuming enough milk products.
Like eggs, milk is also a “complete” protein – which means that it contains all essential amino acids that our body needs. Other than protein it has 16 essential nutrients that support normal growth and function of the body, most of these nutrients are not found in many other foods, like Calcium, Vitamin D, and Probiotics. Many scientific studies have demonstrated that a balanced diet, with adequate milk products, could help achieve and maintain a healthy weight as well as play a role in the prevention of a number of health problems such as osteoporosis, hypertension and colon cancer.
How much? Most adults need 2 – 3 servings of milk products, women above the age of 50 should aim for 3 servings.
- A serving is equals to 1 cup of Milk (do not count the milk in your tea)
- ¾ cup or 175 grams of Yogurt
- 1 ounce (50 grams) or the size of a matchbox – Cheese (Cottage cheese, Paneer, low-fat Mozzarella, hard cheese)
It is very easy to get fat from dairy products so try to choose lower fat or skim version of milk, yogurt and cheese. Try to get most of your dairy from yogurt or milk. Yogurt that has active bacteria helps digestion. For more protein use Greek yogurt.
Do you Avoid milk products because you have Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance happens when your body does not have enough enzyme called lactase. Without this enzyme, or enough of this enzyme, your body does not break down all the lactose (which is milk sugar) into smaller parts for digestion and absorption. The undigested lactose goes into your large intestine where it is fermented by bacteria causing symptoms such as:
- weight loss (in children)
If you have lactose intolerance you should not avoid dairy, the more you avoid it the more your symptoms can get worse. Your risk for lactose intolerance depends in part on your genes (get tested to see if you have risk factor gene, and how to treat it).
Steps you can take to treat your lactose intolerance:
- Start with small amounts of dairy – especially yogurt – about ¼ cup or ½ cup at a time
- Take dairy products with your meals, this reduces symptoms
- Choose lactose-free or foods low in lactose, preferably fortified with calcium, such as: lactose-hydrolyzed milk (e.g. Lactaid®, Lacteeze®), soy beverage, rice beverage, casein or soy-based products in place of cheese
- Choose yogurts with live bacterial cultures