'Finish your milk before leaving the table,' has up until recently been my everyday resounding phrase in the kitchen. Then I discovered that I could be wrong in encouraging my kids to drink their milk.
Being a good source of calcium, protein, potassium and vitamins, milk has long been considered as a super food, but experts are now emphasising the other side of the coin. It seems that milk is not the best source of calcium for children and adults alike. Moreover, some are advocating the use of cow milk for their calves, rather than for human beings.
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High fat content
Yoni Freedhoff MD, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, argues that milk is no magic food that will lead to 'bones of steel or eternal health.' In fact, it could have been doing us more harm than good with its high percentage of fat. As we all know, highly caloric diets can increase the risk of heart diseases, and may lead to other serious health problems like diabetes and obesity. Another surprising fact is, though we may have the tendency of using skimmed milk to slim down, paradoxically, full cream milk is more filling and may help in shedding weight, according to some studies. But does this mean our children should increase their full cream milk intake to fight obesity? Logically speaking, no.
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Freedhoff goes on to explain that health specialists from the Harvard School of Public Health, David Ludwig and Walter Willett, report there is little evidence that milk consumption is associated with reduced bone fractures. According to them, some studies have proved that people from countries such as India, Japan and Peru, where milk consumption is low, have lower fracture rates than those who actually drink lots of milk. But the Harvard School of Public Health claims that this could have been taken without consideration of other factors like these people having more exposure to sunlight, which could result in more vitamin D being absorbed for the better absorption of calcium into their bones, promoting bone strength.
Modern dairy farming is being pointed out as a culprit in some forms of breasts and prostate cancer. High dosages of hormones and antibiotics are being pumped into cows to increase milk production. According to Dr. Davaasambuu and her colleagues, there is a clear link between consumption of such high-hormone milk, and high rates of hormone-dependent cancers. Safe practice is to buy organic, unhomogenised milk from grass-fed cows, from ethical dairy producers.
How to help your kids grow healthy bones
Green leafy vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens and turnip greens are good sources of calcium which are easily absorbed into the body, unlike dairy products.
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Get your lazy bones moving. Exercise helps to make bones denser and stronger.
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Give them enough exposure to sunlight to help production of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is an important player in bone building and a whopping 1 in 3 Australians are deficient. A minimum of 15 minutes in sunlight is enough. If their exposure is limited, include some vitamin D fortified food in their diet.
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