Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt have been a part of the human diet for centuries. Dairy has a plethora of health benefits that humans have acknowledged since the dawn of agriculture. The truth is, dairy is an essential part of a healthy, well-rounded diet. Here are the top 10 reasons you should definitely include dairy in your daily meals.
- Unless there is a medical reason to do so, you shouldn’t eliminate entire food groups
Some people are lactose intolerant or have an allergic reaction when they consume dairy. For them, the obvious choice is to cut out dairy entirely. However, if you personally don’t have any negative reactions physically or mentally when you consume dairy products then there’s no real reason to cut dairy out of your diet. A lot of the research that suggests adults don’t need dairy or that we shouldn’t consume dairy link dairy consumption to very generic symptoms like bloating, mental fogginess, or GI distress. The truth is that these symptoms could be linked to a number of issues including sensitivities to other foods, stress, anxiety, or a completely unrelated medical issue. Cutting out dairy without a medical reason to do so will leave your body craving dairy products and you’ll be likely to binge on them later. Including dairy in moderate amounts along with all other types of foods is the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Dairy is one of the best sources of protein available
Protein assists the body in building new muscle, repairing tissue damage, and enzyme regulation. Protein is also a high yield energy source for the body, meaning that foods high in protein give you more energy and keep you fuller longer. Another bonus is that protein helps keep your nails, hair, and skin strong and healthy. Dairy is packed with protein, and for some, like vegetarians, it is one of the most accessible forms of protein.
- Dairy provides essential vitamins and minerals
Dairy products are high in vitamins and minerals like calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B-12. Calcium is essential for building bones and maintaining bone strength. Vitamin D is important for mental health, especially during the dark winter months when we don’t see much sun. Many studies have linked Vitamin D deficiency to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of severe depression that occurs during the darker months of the year. Vitamin B-12 is important for energy conversion in the body and for maintaining metabolic functions.
- Dairy Can Help Manage Your Blood Pressure
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that foods high in potassium have been shown to help regulate and maintain blood pressure. Yogurt and milk are high in potassium, so adding these foods to your meals could help in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
- Dairy can help your gut
GI issues are alarmingly common. Some 70 million people suffer from GI issues every day, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects anywhere from 25 to 45 million people in the U.S. alone. A lot of these issues can stem from imbalances in the good bacteria found in the digestive system. The probiotics naturally found in yogurt assist in repopulating the good bacteria in the gut, so yogurt is great for regulating digestive functions.
- Dairy is good for your heart
Studies have linked dairy to decreased risk for Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes. For a long time it was thought that the fat in dairy would lead to increased risk for Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes, but when research was conducted, the opposite was found. These studies found that the fat in dairy did not pose any increased risk, and even found that some of daily consumption of milk may be linked to decreased risk for Cardiovascular Disease.
- Organic whole milk contains Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to increased brain health and have even been indicated as important to helping prevent depression and mental determination. The most commonly used source of Omega-3 fatty acids is fish, but a recent study by Andrea S. Wiley of the Indiana University found that organic whole milk contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than regular milk. It can be a valuable source of Omega-3, which is especially important if you don’t eat fish.
- Yogurt may help prevent allergies
Yogurt has been found to contain B. Lactis, which has been shown to reduce symptoms of nasal allergies. B. Lactis works as an antihistamine, like Benadryl. Men who consumed dairy with B. Lactis, like yogurt, daily for eight weeks had less nasal allergy symptoms than those who didn’t. If your allergies are kicking into high gear this year, grab some yogurt to get some relief.
- Cheese activates the pleasure center of your brain
Enjoying food is essential to having a balanced relationship with it. When you are able to really enjoy and savor your meals you will feel more satisfied and have a better sense of when you are full. Studies on the consumption of cheese have shown that cheese activates the same pleasure centers in your brain as some drugs. Many articles have spun this information and claimed that cheese is an addictive drug, but what this really means is that eating cheese can help you have a pleasurable experience with food. Having pleasurable experiences with food is an essential part of healing unhealthy relationships with food, which are all too common among American women.
- Buying dairy products supports the economy
Despite decreasing sales of dairy products, the dairy industry is still a major factor in the U.S. economy, especially in states where agriculture is still common. Agriculture related industries, including dairy, contributed $835 billion to the U.S. GDP (gross domestic product) in 2014, which translates to 4.8-percent of the GDP. In states like Vermont, the nation’s cheese capital, dairy generates $2.2 billion every year for the state’s economy and accounts for 70% of the state’s agricultural sales. When you purchase dairy from a local farmer, you’re supporting your own local economy and keeping agriculture strong in our country. When you purchase dairy at all, you’re helping keep the economy strong!