Milk is a staple food in any cuisine and is widely consumed by everyone across the globe. Due to the presence of a variety of nutrients, it is considered a whole meal in itself. The childhood memory of your mother forcing you to gulp a full glass of milk every day must be still fresh in your mind. Not only that, whenever we get a fever or cold, our granny always recommended a glass of hot milk with turmeric as a tried and tested remedy to get fast relief.
Some people drink milk right after they wake up, while some like to drink it before they go to bed. It has an array of nutrients that are beneficial for the body but due to the presence of some enzymes, milk can also be harmful to a few people.
What is pasteurisation?
Pasteurisation is a heat treatment process to kill bacteria and prevent food poisoning. Most milk and cream is pasteurised. If milk is unpasteurised, it’s often called “raw” milk. This must carry a warning saying it has not been pasteurised and may contain harmful bacteria (which could cause food poisoning).
You can sometimes buy unpasteurised milk and cream from farms and farmers’ markets. If you choose unpasteurised milk or cream, make sure they’re kept properly refrigerated because they go off quickly. Follow any instructions provided with the milk and do not use the milk past its use-by date.
Some other dairy products are made with unpasteurised milk, including some cheeses.
For example, some makers of camembert, brie and goats’ cheese may use unpasteurised milk, so check the label. Children, unwell people, pregnant women and older people are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning. They should not have unpasteurised milk or cream and some dairy products made with unpasteurised milk.
Why is milk important for young children?
Milk is widely considered to be an essential food and has been regarded as such in cultures around the world through the generations. It provides nutrients necessary for the healthy growth of children. But do you know how these nutrients benefit their body?
- IT HELPS STRENGTHEN BONES
Milk contains many nutrients necessary for building strong bones in childhood and maintaining them during adulthood. Protein, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K are needed for maintenance and repairing of bones. Studies indicate that the intake of Magnesium, and the amount absorbed, were key predictors of bone development in children and adolescents. Except for Vitamin D, the rest are present in significant amounts in milk. Children who consume an adequate amount of milk can avoid bone health problems in adult life like osteoporosis – a condition in which the bones become weak, porous and susceptible to breakage.
- IT PROMOTES ORAL HEALTH
Due to numerous proteins present in milk, it has been proved to be good for oral health. Many studies suggest that its consumption prevents tooth decay. Tooth remineralisation, the suppression of bacterial colonisation, and slowing down of development of dental plaque – which is known to cause tooth decay and gum disease – can be attributed to proteins found in milk.
- MILK REDUCES THE RISK OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY
Milk and dairy products are excellent sources of high-quality protein and essential amino acids, thus helping maintain active muscle mass for weight loss and weight maintenance. Increasing evidence suggests that fermented dairy products – like cheese and yoghurt – are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, too. Children with the highest dairy intake are 38% less likely to be obese compared to those in the lowest dairy intake group according to research. An extra serving of dairy serving per day was associated with 0.65% lower body fat and a 13% lower risk of being overweight or obese.
- MILK ALTERNATIVES
Milk alternatives have become popular over the past decade as some families choose to be dairy-free. Additionally, some children are allergic to milk protein. In both cases, milk alternatives are important to make sure your child is getting enough protein and calcium. Understanding the difference between your options can help you choose the best one for your child.
Dairy provides an important source of protein for toddlers. If you are choosing a milk alternative, we recommend choosing one that contains protein and is most similar in caloric content to cow’s milk. Almond, coconut and rice milk contain a minimal amount of protein while hemp and oat milk both contain some protein. Newer to the market is Ripple Milk, a pea-based protein milk, which contains calories and protein more comparable to cow’s milk.
In general, using a toddler formula is unnecessary. Whichever milk or milk alternative you use, it is important to speak to your paediatrician and possibly a dietitian to ensure that your child’s diet is not protein or vitamin and mineral deficient.
THE LATEST RESEARCH ON MILK ALTERNATIVES
Results from a recent study show that children who drink milk alternatives may be shorter than children who consume cow’s milk. The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, collected data from over 5,000 healthy children from 2 to 6 years old. The authors stated that each cup of milk alternative that a child drank each day was associated with an average decrease of 0.4 centimetres in height. A potential reason why their growth was lower? Many of these alternative milks do not contain enough protein and fat. More studies are needed to confirm this relationship, but the results do help raise awareness of the nutritional differences between milk and milk alternatives.
Are you a loyal consumer of cow’s milk? Or do you trust any of the alternatives more? Tell us in the comments below that which milk is your pick for your child and why do you trust it?