gone are the days of consumers having only a few beverage choices. For
the most part, it used to be milk, coffee, water, orange juice and
maybe one or two brands of soda. That was it. So it’s no wonder that
with the increase in bottled water consumption and vast array of
sports drinks, juices and sodas available, daily milk intake for
Americans has dropped 50 percent since 1978, to little more than a
half a cup.
obsession with fat-free diets has left milk and other dairy products
out in the cold with a certain segment of the public. Even the amount
of actual calcium needed for the average person is now coming
starting to be some debate over calcium — how much do we really need
and what should be the sources?" says Dr. Julie Larsen, medical
director for ProHealth Care’s weight-management services in Sussex.
"Some studies show calcium may actually promote atherosclerotic
heart disease by forming calcium plaque."
She says there
is also debate as to whether milk actually helps people, especially in
large quantities. "If you’re getting too much protein, it may
actually weaken your bones," Larsen notes.
the concern by some in the medical field that dairy is contributing to
higher rates of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. While Larsen
doesn’t think the research is clear on this yet, she and others
recommend that those who consume dairy choose organic products free
from antibiotics and growth hormones, leading to a cleaner diet.
For those who
are lactose intolerant, allergic to casein or whey proteins, or find
themselves concerned about drinking too much milk, there is good news.
thing is that there are other sources of calcium besides milk so that
people can get adequate minerals," says Betty Holloway, a
clinical dietician with ProHealth Care. A good example of this is
yogurt, without added sugar or artificial sweeteners. According to
Holloway, it’s a great source of
almond and coconut milks all fortified
with vitamin D and calcium are great
alternatives for those who want to avoid regular milk.
health experts agree that one to two servings of dairy per day is
adequate, there are others who follow the lead of the USDA and think
more is needed to maintain proper health.
the dietary guidelines and the sound science behind the fact that most
Americans are recommended to have three servings of dairy a day,"
says Laura Wilford, registered dietician and director of the Wisconsin
with the council for 30 years and focuses on outreach and education
throughout the state. As to the importance of what she calls the
"big three" — milk, cheese and yogurt — she admits that
while milk consumption has decreased over the years, there has been an
increase in consumption of other dairy products.
past year, we have seen a huge increase in the intake of cheese. In
the past 25 years, cheese consumption has tripled," says Wilford.
She has also seen increases in yogurt consumption over the years.
As for those who
can tolerate moderate amounts of milk, there’s been a shift in
thinking regarding fat content and the fact that for years people
thought it was bad for them. New science has surfaced indicating that
the fat in milk is not unhealthy for people and actually helps with
the absorption of calcium and vitamin D.
why we’re also going back to considering fat as being a little
healthier than we used to think," says Holloway.
Both she and
Larsen recommend 1 or 2 percent milk for those who are able to consume
it, and Wilford agrees. "For a long time, all we heard was drink
skim, drink skim. But now we know that you can include 1 percent, 2
percent or even whole milk and work it out in your meal plan,"
the number of choices out there, when it comes to beverages there’s
no arguing that milk and dairy are important sources of calcium,
potassium and vitamin D. In fact, these are three of the four
nutrients Americans are most likely to be deficient in, according
If people decide to reduce milk and dairy in their diet, they should
be making healthy replacement choices. There doesn’t seem to be any
debate on that. M