Scripture: Exodus 3: 8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. KJV
Many of the health challenges that we face could be avoided or improved by being more aware of what we eat and drink each day. Good nutrition is a building block for good health and it is important for us to learn all that we can and put the information into practice. One of the most valuable food groups is that of dairy products. Unfortunately, many of us believe that milk and other dairy products are for babies to the toddler years. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that we have at least 3 cups daily of dairy products in the form of milk, cheese or yogurt. The benefits of making sure that you and your family follow these guidelines are significant. We often think of dairy foods as being good for our bones; however this is not the only health benefit. Studies indicate that consuming the recommended amounts of dairy products, an excellent source of calcium, improves our bone strength or mass and can reduce help prevent or treat bone disease and fractures. However, did you also know that consuming the adequate amounts of dairy can help reduce your risk and/or help control high blood pressure? Several studies indicates that there is also a role of dairy consumption in reducing diabetes. One of the other major benefits of dairy products in our diet is that of controlling weight. Studies show that having 3 servings of low-fat dairy products will help you lose more weight and burn more fat. Certainly, this is a benefit that can have a tremendous impact on your health given the consequences of being overweight.
Dairy provides an excellent source of many vitamins and nutrients which include but are not limited to: Calcium, Protein, Vitamins A, B, and D, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Zinc, Niacin, Folate and others essential nutrients. Unfortunately, we know that most Americans do not get enough calcium in their diet. The statistics are even worse in African Americans; some experts say that we consume less than one serving of dairy each day which translates into less than half not getting the daily dairy requirements. How are you doing? What about your family?
It's not just about healthy bones, did you know that aside from building and maintaining bones and teeth, did you know that calcium also...
* helps regulate the heartbeat,
* helps the blood clot and maintain a balance of acid and alkali,
* helps muscles grow and contract,
* helps nerves transmit,
* helps the body use iron,
* helps activate enzymes so other nutrients can function,
* helps regulate the passage of nutrients in and out of the cell walls, and
* helps to prevent osteoporosis.
Lactose Intolerance is a condition that affects a significant number of persons, with an increase in minority populations. Normally, the small intestine produces lactase, an enzyme needed to convert milk sugar (lactose) into a form that the body can use. Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not produce enough lactase to digest the amount of lactose consumed. When the undigested lactose passes into the colon, large intestine, it causes symptoms such as bloating, cramping in the stomach, gas, abdominal pain, and loose stools or diarrhea. The symptoms are usually found in adults and develop during the teen to adult years and continue throughout life. However, just because you have lactose intolerance does not mean that you cannot consume ANY dairy products. The amount of lactose that can be tolerated varies from person to person. Some people with lactose intolerance may be able to consume milk or milk products if they are spread throughout the day, drink milk with a meal or if they are in the form of yogurt or hard cheese. Further, there are several lactose free products that you can to get your recommended dairy. There are also dietary supplements, such as lactaid, which you can take before you ingest dairy products that will help with your symptoms. Lactose intolerance is not an allergy and many believe that it is not as common as we think. Make sure that you speak with your physician or health professional about the diagnosis of lactose intolerance, often you really are do not have the disorder but rather are just sensitive to some dairy products.
Add lowfat milk instead of water to hot cereals and soups
Pack calcium-rich lunches
Try low-fat flavored milk like chocolate or strawberry
Drink lowfat milk with your meals, even order when dining out
Add melted lowfat cheese to steamed veggies
Enjoy a healthy, calcium rich pizza with cheese and veggies
Try Soy milk
Try Lactaid products
Try Acidophilus milk
Try canned salmon with bones or sardines. The bones provide calcium.
Try Yogurt which may be easier for you to digest.
Try juices and other foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Vitamin D is found in many dietary sources such as fish, eggs, fortified milk, and cod liver oil. The sun also contributes significantly to the daily production of vitamin D, and as little as 10 minutes of exposure is thought to be enough to prevent your level from being too low. If your vitamin D is too low, you can't absorb calcium and this leads to problems with weak bones and other conditions. Think of calcium and vitamin D as partners in protecting you from bone loss and the building blocks of your temple.
Author, Speaker, Health Strategist and Advocate
Executive Director, the COSHAR Foundation (www.cosharfoundation.org)