Milk is an important staple in the diet of many of us. It is a great source of proteins, minerals and vitamins essential to maintain an iron health. Besides, who can resist a good coffee with milk in the morning? Or a glass of warm milk before going to bed in the coldest days? Or who hasn’t enjoyed a wonderful and varied cheese platter? And if you are also one of those who can not miss a brick of milk in the fridge, join us to know all the benefits it brings us.
It is not surprising that it is the first food consumed by all mammals at birth. For this food is of great importance to us. Especially at an early age, where it is key for a correct and healthy development.
But it is also a staple food that helps fight malnutrition and hunger in the world. That is why it even has its own day on the calendar. And every June 1st, World Milk Day is celebrated. In order to raise awareness of its properties and promote its consumption.
Remember that the Mediterranean diet, one of the healthiest, recommends at least two servings of dairy or dairy products a day. These foods are nowadays considered essential in the diet.
June 1st, International Milk Day
In order to raise awareness of the benefits of consuming milk or its derivatives, in 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) created this celebration. Its objective was to make everyone aware of its benefits and thus encourage the consumption of dairy products.
And we want to do our bit by looking in detail at all the benefits of regular consumption of milk or its derivatives.
And although many people cannot consume it, either because of intolerances or allergies, there are many healthy alternatives to animal milk, such as vegetable milks. In addition, there are several options, such as soy milk, millet milk, rice milk, barley milk, hazelnut milk or almond milk.
Properties and Benefits of Milk
Milk is one of the most complete foods we have; and that is why it is the first food we start drinking from birth. Just one glass provides 30% of the daily dose of calcium we need, which translates into optimal bone health. And, for children under 5 years of age, it provides 21% of their protein needs, and 8% of the calories and nutrients necessary for optimal growth.
But it also contains phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iodine, selenium, vitamins A, D and B complex; fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins and water. That is why dairy foods provide high value proteins, with important functions in our organism.
Its consumption prevents chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disorders. And thanks to the contribution of Omega 3 fatty acid, it helps us to regulate blood pressure, and thus have an optimal cardiovascular health. But this is only one of the many benefits of regular consumption of dairy products.
This food, the base ingredient of dairy products such as yogurts or cheeses, so present in our diet, has many benefits for our body. Let’s see what they are:
Properties and Benefits of Milk
A regular consumption of dairy products helps us to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disorders. This food contains bioactive peptides, very beneficial for the immune, cardiovascular and digestive systems.
Milk is a great source of minerals
Its high content of minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, sodium, chlorine, magnesium and zinc, make it an essential food in our diet. It also provides carbohydrates through lactose, and good quality proteins.
The lactose it provides helps our body to better absorb calcium and magnesium. It also promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms, thus acting as a prebiotic.
Another of the great benefits of milk is that it promotes the growth of intestinal bacterial flora.
Several studies have shown that regular consumption of milk promotes the growth of our intestinal bacterial flora. This helps our body to fight against bacteria, viruses or diseases. At the same time it ensures a proper functioning of our digestive system while improving our digestion after meals.
In addition, many of the beneficial intestinal bacteria that we have in our body help us to synthesize certain vitamins, so our body will better absorb vitamins such as K, or B vitamins.
A great ally for the Bones
Undoubtedly one of the best known components of milk is calcium. Dairy products are a great source of this important mineral. But in addition to its calcium content, its Vitamin D content helps our body to absorb it much better.
That is why milk is a fundamental food for an optimal bone development; at the same time it helps us to prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis, and to keep them strong and healthy.
Prevents dental and oral conditions
But calcium is not only beneficial for our bone health, it also neutralizes oral acids, reduces the risk of dental caries and helps reduce uric acid levels, responsible for diseases such as gout or kidney stones.
Other Benefits of Milk: Source of essential amino acids
Milk contains all the essential amino acids for our body such as isoleucine, leucine and lysine. They are essential to regulate energy and glucose levels in the blood, to help the healing of muscle tissue, skin and bones, and to obtain a correct absorption of calcium.
But they also help the production of antibodies and the formation of collagen.
Helps to fall asleep
Drinking a glass of warm milk before going to sleep helps you relax, which helps you fall asleep better. I’m sure you’ve heard it many times believing it was a myth; but it’s not. It has an amino acid called tryptophan, which the body converts into serotonin (also known as the sleep hormone). That is why it is said that a glass of warm milk relaxes us and helps us to fall asleep.
Milk contains very healthy fatty acids
About a third of the fatty acids contained in milk is composed of oleic acid, which, together with vitamin E, selenium and polyphenols, help our body to reduce cholesterol levels.
Helps keep us hydrated
The major component of milk is water, which makes up around 80-87% of this food. And it is there where most of the mineral salts that this food provides us with are found.
Milk proteins are considered to be of high biological value and contain a large amount of essential amino acids. Here we highlight casein (80% of all the protein provided by milk). Casein contains essential amino acids essential for life.
But does milk have contraindications?
Although milk is a very beneficial and basic food in the diet of many people, it can have a series of contraindications depending on the person. Well, not everyone feels the same. For example, there may be intolerances or allergies that will make its consumption impossible. As well as contraindications or adverse effects. Let’s see in detail what contraindications may have the consumption of milk, or who should consume this food with caution, even to eliminate it from your diet if necessary.
- First of all, milk should not be consumed by those who are lactose intolerant. This is due to a deficiency of lactase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down the lactose in milk. Its consumption, by all those with lactose intolerance, can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, bloating… In these cases we should avoid its consumption. Or opt for lactose-free alternatives.
For example, kefir is a great alternative, as it breaks down the lactose in milk.
- People who are allergic to cow’s milk protein should also pay attention. In this case we must completely avoid its consumption, as well as any other dairy derivative.
- And, finally, all those people with certain metabolic diseases, or intestinal diseases, whose doctor has restricted the intake of dairy products, should avoid the consumption of milk. They can worsen these diseases.
A brief history of milk
Milk was already part of the first European Neolithic populations, between 7,500 and 5,550 years ago, and its origin is even earlier than that. And since it began to be consumed on a regular basis, there has been a considerable improvement in the health of the population.
Human consumption of animal milk began around 11,000 years ago. It came about when humans began to domesticate livestock. The first domesticated animal was the cow, followed by the goat and the sheep. This meant a drastic change both in the way of life of the population and in their consumption habits. Thus, we went from a nomadic society to settle down and create fixed populations.
During the Ancient and Middle Ages, due to the difficulty of preserving milk, it was consumed fresh or cheeses were made. And it was a food exclusive to rural areas. Later, around 1830, with the industrial revolution, it was preserved in good condition for a longer period of time, thus allowing its transportation to other places. This made this food reach the big cities.
How many types of milk are there?
We start with a great differentiation. We find types of animal milk, and we also have the vegetable option.
Of the first, we find cow, buffalo, goat, sheep and camel milk. And others less common, but also used in different areas for their production are yaks, horses, reindeer or donkeys.
As for milk of vegetable origin, the options are also very varied. We find sesame milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hazelnut milk, quinoa milk… among others.
So, with so many options to choose from, you have no excuse not to enjoy the benefits of milk, this healthy and nutritious food.
And you, do you usually drink milk or do you avoid dairy products? Did you know all the benefits of milk? If you liked the article or you found it useful, remember to leave us your comments, ideas, tips… We love to read you! And don’t forget to follow us on social networks to keep up to date with all our publications. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.