The one small change that can make us healthier

It’s no secret that as we get older our bodies change and with it, our lifestyle choices. Our change in lifestyle then contributes to us having a higher risk of elevated blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight gain and bone mass problems. But what if one small change, every day, could help us to live healthier lives? What if one small change could help decrease your risk of these health problems and at the same time, help you to manage your weight? Would you make the change?

It’s worth noting that the human body cannot produce calcium, so we need to get it from outside sources and nine in ten Australian women over 50 aren’t meeting the recommended serves of the dairy food group (milk, cheese, yoghurt and/or alternatives) as suggested by the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG). This is a pretty alarming statistic considering the important role dairy can play in our diet.

Most of us here know that the hormonal changes that occur during menopause leave us with an increased risk of osteoporosis and other bone related problems. Studies show that adequate dairy consumption is linked with the reduced risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and type-2 diabetes based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. If the calcium found in dairy foods is one of the vital ingredients that protects our bones and helps to keep us healthy, why do people restrict their dairy intake?

If dairy is so good for us, especially as we get older, why aren’t we getting enough? The buzz around fad diets and extreme weight loss plans has led us to incorrectly believe that dairy consumption is related to weight gain. But some good news is that science has worked to show otherwise. A study conducted by the Dairy Health and Nutrition Consortium and led by Dr Kathy Zhu found that women who had more serves of dairy had greater whole lean body mass, compared to those women who had less.  The study also found that increased dairy consumption lead to better physical function and a trend in lower falls in older women. The Australian Dietary Guidelines also point out that as part of a balanced diet, milk, cheese and yoghurt consumption are not linked to weight gain.

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Now more than ever before are we fighting against the prevalence of diet-related diseases and when it comes down to it, a balanced diet is one way of helping to combat these problems and enjoy healthy ageing. The recommended consumption of milk, cheese, yoghurt and/or alternatives is four or more serves a day and right now only one in ten women reading this article are meeting that target.

So how can you increase your daily intake? Our friends at Dairy Australia have helped us out by providing some wonderful ideas to help us make healthy food swaps and to get more dairy in our everyday diet. It is important to know that the Australian Dairy Guidelines do recommend that half of your dairy servings each day should be reduced fat for optimal health.


How to get more dairy in your diet:

  • Spread your intake across the whole day. Start your day and end your day with a serve of dairy and enjoy dairy snacks in between.
  • Throw a handful of cheddar cheese into scrambled eggs for a calcium boost at breakfast.
  • Re-invent your porridge by using milk instead of water and to give it an exciting flavour add a dash of freshly brewed coffee.
  • When making risotto for dinner, replace 1/3 of the stock with milk for a beautiful creamy meal.
  • Use light cream cheese mixed with milk as a creamy base for pasta sauce.
  • For when you need an extra dairy hit and some sweetness, keep a box of custard powder and UHT milk in your pantry.
  • Enjoy small cubed cheese or yoghurt as snacks throughout the day.
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So how much dairy are you getting into your diet? Are you one of the women not meeting the recommended 4 serves of the dairy food group per day? Or if you are meeting the guidelines, what clever ways do you use to increase your dairy consumption?

This article has been sponsored by Dairy Australia who help people all over Australia to live a healthy lifestyle and have a healthy diet. It was written specifically for the Starts at 60 community by an independent Starts at 60 writer. To find out more about how much dairy you should be eating for a healthy diet, click here.