Is there anything better than a cold glass of milk with a warm chocolate chip cookie? How about eating soft ice cream together with your sweetheart at the fair? Maybe it’s a fancy cheese with a glass of wine after a good meal? Milk chocolate eggs at Easter? It might be the yogurt you made yourself and enjoyed after your last yoga class. Quite possibly, you’ve chosen to take soy or oat milk in your coffee.
However, we enjoy our dairy or dairy alternatives; that simple, natural product is present – in one way or another – our entire life. Dairy is a good source of protein, provides our bodies with energy, and is one of the most versatile products on the planet, even if it isn’t for everybody.
We are slaves to our bodies. Our body expects us to answer its cravings and needs around the clock. Sometimes it demands exercise, fresh air, and a salad, and sometimes it wants a pizza and a spot on the sofa. If we are unlucky, our bodies have special demands and simply won’t tolerate dairy. We might opt out of dairy for other reasons, too. We are as diverse a world of people as the possibilities of dairy products themselves.
Dairy products are amazing. They give us calories for energy, supply us with protein and a range of essential micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus. Aside from dairy’s nutritional value, it offers other biologically active compounds like peptides, probiotic bacteria, antioxidants, to name but a few. All are important to our good health. The cherry on top is that dairy comes in an easily absorbed form and easily carried form: milk!
Some call milk “nature’s most complete food.” For thousands of years, milk has provided people with a food source. It is still an important part of most people's diet on the planet. While dairy is an extremely versatile and good source of protein and energy, it isn’t for everybody.
If you cannot or don’t consume dairy products, how can you continue to age well? Don’t worry; the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” suggests we consume 3 cups a day of dairy, composed of fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, and/or lactose-free versions and fortified soy beverages and yogurt as alternatives. So, if you don’t got milk, you can still step up to the plate.
“Dairy products provide nutrients for the elderly, maintain muscle health, prevent multiple physiological mechanisms, and interact with skeletal muscle mass and function to help prevent sarcopenia. In particular, increase in the intake of nutrient-rich dairy products improves muscles, reduces the loss of muscle strength, does not increase the incidence of metabolic diseases and chronic diseases, and has no side effects of increased fat and kidney function.” NCBI
We know that dairy products are a great source of fat, which is an important energy source. We may not need as much fat or energy as we get older, but just because you qualify for a senior discount doesn’t mean you have to eat a no-fat diet. Many healthy fats come from non-dairy sources like nuts, seeds, and fruit like avocados. Avocado is a great substitute for the mouth-feel of cheese if you've become lactose intolerant, too! That’s why avocado toast is so popular with vegans!
We may not consume dairy simply because we can’t.
You might choose not to consume dairy products due to your dietary restrictions, health concerns, or because you have ethical reasons. That’s okay! If you are looking for a substitute, there is a huge variety of dairy-free options for seniors, including:
“Coconut cream and milk are versatile dairy substitutes. The key is to make sure they have added protein and calcium to be nutritionally similar to dairy milk. Add them to your laksa, curry or mushroom sauce. And coconut rice is a dinner party hit! Just replace half your water with coconut milk and then cook as usual. It’s a good one to try with kids too.” Better Health
Please keep in mind: like any dietary or health decision, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before trying something new. Many of these products contain added ingredients such as sweeteners, artificial flavors, preservatives, and thickeners.
A Good Diet and Exercise
D is not only for Dairy; it’s also for Daily Exercise! Keeping up a regular movement and exercise routine is incredibly important throughout our lives, especially as we age. A balanced diet and exercise go hand in hand. A balanced, healthy diet for older adults should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and sources of Vitamin D.
Probiotics are the good bacterial cultures found in yogurt, kefir, natural buttermilk, and cheese like mozzarella and cottage cheese. They are similar to vitamins because they are necessary for the body to function. However, probiotics are living bacteria. We’re used to thinking of bacteria as bad, but that’s an oversimplification. The body requires a balance of bacteria, particularly in the intestines. The official term for this is the gut microbiota. These good bacteria are essential for fighting off disease and for digesting food.
“Did you know that each person with lactose intolerance can eat different amounts of dairy products in their diet and be free of symptoms? It is not all or nothing with lactose intolerance. Some people who are lactose intolerant have a reduced amount of the enzyme lactase, which means that the lactose in foods is not digested completely, leading to symptoms for some but not all.” Senior Care Corner
Can you enjoy dairy products without any problems? Do you use cow milk or an alternate product? Are you a whipped cream or a yogurt person? And how about ice cream and probiotics?? We’d love to know!
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Senior Living FYI
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