All you lovers of milk…Did you know June is officially the Dairy Month? A month set aside to celebrate the family of dairy foods that includes milk, yogurt and cheese? Oh what bliss!! You are welcome, though. #smiles

So, this is a first. Even for me. I just very recently found out that there was a month set aside for anything and everything dairy. Wow. Indeed we learn everyday, right? Since I love milk and all its components, this was a very welcome development for me, and I am quite excited writing this article.

The Dairy Month is not just about celebrating dairy products, it is also a time to appreciate the dairy farm families (cattle ranches) and all those milk companies that continually produce milk products that remain healthy, wholesome and safely enjoyed by all. We do have a duty to also support them in their drive to produce healthy products.

In Nigeria, our dairy farm families are mostly the nomadic cattle rearers (the fulanis) and production of this milk is done locally into cheeses which we term wara and yoghurt for most of those familiar with the northern delicacy, fura da nono. Not surprisingly, it turns out these groups of people are among the largest consumers of dairy products in Nigeria.

Of course we do have companies, huge brands even that also produce milk and other related products here in Nigeria.

Why Is This So Important?

Lets get back to the basics, shall we?

Milk is a primary source of calcium which has been proven to be excellent for strong white teeth and bones. It also provides Vitamin A, phosphorous and protein as well as Vitamin D once it has been fortified. The foods in this group are important because all of the nutrients work together to keep our bones strong and healthy. For obvious reasons, its consumption is highly recommended for children of all ages and expectant and nursing mothers as well. Find below a table highlighting the nutrients found in dairy products and their functions.

NUTRIENT 
FUNCTIONS 
Calcium
  • Essential for strong bones and teeth
  • Needed for normal muscle and nerve functioning and may assist in controlling high blood pressure
Vitamin B12
  • Helps to keep blood healthy
  • Assists in the formation of nerve cells
Vitamin A
  • Essential for healthy eyesight
  • Important for growth, particularly in children
Riboflavin
  • Helps release energy from food
  • Helps cells to function properly
Potassium
  • Assists with blood pressure control
  • Important for nerve impulse transmission
Magnesium
  • Important component in bone structure
  • Essential for energy transfer around the body
Zinc
  • Aids wound healing
  • Essential for normal growth and development in bones, brain and other parts of the body
Phosphorus
  • Forms an important part of the mineral structure in bones and teeth
  • Works with B vitamins to release energy from food
Carbohydrate
  • Provides energy for the body
Protein
  • Needed for growth and development as well as repair to damaged body tissues
  • Forms part of many enzymes and blood components and is essential for maintaining muscles

Milk is practically everywhere, yet it has been noticed that not enough is being consumed by those who need it the most. A lot of homes barely incorporate this essential commodity into their family meals, and even when they do, it is in a very inconsequential manner.

Which is why it is vital to raise awareness on the importance of dairy products especially in family meals. So, you might be thinking, is it really thaaaat bad when we do not take dairy products? So many people do without it already anyway and they are doing okay. Well, I have got not so good news for you. I will try not to make it too gloomy;

Deficiency Symptoms Of Milk Products

  • confusion or memory loss.
  • muscle spasms.
  • numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, and face.
  • depression.
  • hallucinations.
  • muscle cramps.
  • weak and brittle nails.
  • easy fracturing of the bones.

You get the point now? Sound familiar? These symptoms when unchecked can lead to more avoidable complications.Do not joke with your dairy! Especially with your children and if you are an expectant or nursing mother. Just.Do. Not.

However, there does exist amongst us dairy lovers those who are lactose intolerant. What that means is that no matter what they do,their systems are so wired they can not consume dairy products without some side effects. How does one know if they are suffering from lactose intolerance? Well…

Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance
  • abdominal bloating, a feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdomen.
  • abdominal pain.
  • diarrhea.
  • gas.
  • nausea

In recognition of this group of lactose intolerants, there are substitues oh. Yippeee. Good news, right? You can actually get dairy/lactose free milk products. Some substitutes or alternatives to dairy are Soy milk (from soya beans), almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk and hemp milk (haha, I know right. More on this in a later post). Some of these can easily be made at home. So you see, nobody needs to miss out on the goodness of milk. Even for the low income earners. Milk producing companies have notably appreciated this fact and their products are packaged in ways to suit every pocket. Again, really no excuse! Thank You Milk Brands…(you know yourselves).

There are fun ways dairy products can be incorporated into meals. We have a separate post for this. So watch out. However, do you have any recipe you might want to share? I would soooo love to know about them. Please drop in the comment box lets compare notes.

On a final note, milk is essential for the wellness of the entire family. Now,go ahead and dive into the goodness that is milk. Your skin, eyes, teeth and bones will thank you for it. Especially babies. So, mothers, barring any health challenges, do ensure you breastfeed your babies.

Happy Dairy Month Guys.

Table courtesy www.foodsthatdogood.com

 

About the author

Kris Ero

Professionally known as The Wellness Boss, Kris is a trained wellness coach focused primarily on promoting corporate wellness. She is also a Child and Family Wellness Advocate and has appeared on several radio and tv shows. As a wellness entrepreneur, she runs several wellness initiatives. In her spare time, she loves to catch up on her reading and tv shows. An avid foodie, she seeks healthier ways of enjoying what she loves.

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