The advantages of regular milk consumption

“A glass of MILK a day keeps black thoughts away . . . “

  • Nischita Nibedita.

A healthy drink, milk is the first food we consume when we are born into this world. Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants during their first months of life. Then, as children, we are encouraged to drink up our milk so that we can “grow up big and strong.” But what happens to our desire to drink milk as we grow older? We are likely to stop drinking this nutritious beverage, perhaps because we associate it too much with childhood and want to move on to more grown-up drinks like tea and coffee. But, should we, as adults, still drink milk?

Decades of research continues to point to the importance of maintaining bone health as we age. Throughout our lives, our bones are constantly changing. When our intake of Calcium-rich foods is low, our body ‘steals’ the calcium it needs from our bones – which can cause them to become porous and weak. Bone diseases are quite common in Nigeria. For example, according to data, more than 1.5 million cases of Osteoporosis are diagnosed yearly in Nigeria. Osteoporosis refers to a condition in which bones become weak and brittle, and bone loss occurs without symptoms. Consequently, most people are unaware of their deteriorating bone health, and many of us do not get enough Calcium – a key nutrient for healthy bones, and one of the four nutrients of public health concern (Calcium, Dietary Fiber, Potassium and Vitamin D).

The good news is that drinking milk and dairy products regularly may help prevent Osteoporosis and bone fractures and even help you maintain a healthy weight, according to scientific studies. This delicious beverage – Milk, has always been a healthy drink because it is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and many other nutrients which are usually under-consumed by many people.

However, although milk is a good choice for many, some people cannot tolerate it because they are unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products (products containing or made from milk). It is suggested that such people stick to unsweetened varieties of milk, to limit the amount of added sugar in their diet. Some examples of non-dairy milk alternatives include: soymilk, oat milk, almond milk, and more.

For those able to tolerate milk, however, consuming high-quality milk and dairy products has been proven to provide a number of health benefits. These include: –

  1. GOOD FOR BONES: Milk is the topmost food source of Calcium and Vitamin D for children and adults. Calcium is an essential nutrient for strong bones, muscle movement and nerve signals. Vitamin D increases the body’s ability to absorb Calcium. Sunlight is an excellent source of Vitamin D. Other sources of Vitamin D include: eggs, salmon, mushrooms, fortified milk and some yogurts.
  2. HELPS IN BUILDING STRONG TEETH: Milk strengthens our teeth because it contains a high amount of Calcium. Lactose also helps prevent cavities and tooth decay.
  3. PROMOTES MUSCLE HEALTH: Drinking milk is associated with a lower risk of age-related muscle loss. Also, several studies have demonstrated that drinking milk after a workout can decrease muscle damage, promote muscle repair, increase strength and decrease muscle soreness.
  4. RICH IN PROTEIN: Your body requires proteins that can help in cell repair and boosting a person’s immunity.
  5. PROMOTES HEART HEALTH: The Potassium in milk may help with heart health. Getting more Potassium while also reducing Sodium (salt) intake can lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  6. REDUCES DEPRESSION: Remember the introductory quote by Nischita Nibedita? . . . “A glass of MILK a day keeps black thoughts away . . . “? Yes, adequate levels of Vitamin D in milk supports the production of Serotonin, a hormone people associate with mood, appetite and sleep. Manufacturers often fortify cow’s milk and plant milk with Vitamin D. So, this can help to reduce depression.
  7. BOOSTS METABOLISM: Milk boosts your metabolism and keeps you satisfied for a longer period.
  8. REDUCES RISKS OF OBESITY: Whole milk can be added to your diet. With its high protein content, it can curb your cravings for junk food for a long time, which will aid you in your fitness strategy to burn fat.
  9. FIGHTS MULTIPLE DISEASES: Researchers have found that milk helps in preventing many diseases, even including some types of cancer.
  10. STRESS BUSTER: Milk soothes your muscles and nerves and has a calming effect on you.
  11. PREVENTS HEARTBURNS: There are many foods that are acidic in nature and can cause heartburns. Milk gives you a calming effect that coats the stomach lining and oesophagus from causing heartburn.
  12. GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN: Milk makes your skin look young, soft and glowing. This is because it contains retinol, a known anti-aging and skin-restoring antioxidant. Plus milk’s Vitamin D is also an anti-aging vitamin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects and protection from ultraviolet rays.

Now that we know that milk has a wide range of benefits, how much milk should a person consume daily? There is no hard and fast rule, but too much of something is not advisable. For adults, two full glasses of milk a day – once in the morning and once before bed – will provide an adequate amount of nutrients. For children below 12 years of age, two 250ml glasses of milk a day should be sufficient. And, of course, babies require regular milk intake as it is their sole source of nutrients. It is also good for us to note that milk has healthy types that can benefit us. It is advised that we choose low-fat or non-fat milk, whole milk or skim milk.

Recently, the price of milk and other dairy products has increased, along with other food items in the market, as a result of the current inflationary trend in Nigeria. So, to conclude, I would like to use this medium to suggest/appeal to the various milk-producing companies in Nigeria to consider reducing the prices of their milk and dairy products, so that many more people can afford to buy and enjoy more regularly this rich, nutritious and delicious super-beverage – MILK!

So, everyone, drink milk regularly, enjoying its rich nutritional benefits from A to Z!

Mr. Ighakpe writes from
FESTAC Town, Lagos via
0817 479 5742
[email protected]