When it comes to nutrition, few things pack as much of a punch as a glass of milk. Rich in protein, milk also contains essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium and phosphorus as well as vitamins D, B2, B12 and A.
These components provide a wide range of benefits, helping the body to build and repair muscle tissue, maintain bone bass, regulate blood pressure and ensure the nerve tissue and the immune system are working with optimum efficiency.
The levels of nutrients in milk compare favourably to those contained in other healthy foods so drinking even a modest amount can be hugely beneficial. A typical glass contains as much potassium as a small banana as much Vitamin D as a serving of salmon and as much calcium as a serving of broccoli.
According to researchers at Cardiff University, drinking more milk can reduce the chances of suffering from a stroke or coronary heart disease and related illnesses by up to 20 percent. This is supported by the findings of other studies that have shown high intakes of calcium can reduce the level of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol circulating in the bloodstream, while increasing the level of good cholesterol.
Excess weight around the area of the waist is strongly associated with greater risks to overall health, but those who regularly drink milk as part of a calorie-controlled diet are likely to have slimmer waists than those who do not, according to the most recent studies into obesity.
Weight gain in middle age is one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, rates of which are known to be on the increase. Dairy foods have a low glycaemic index which means that, once consumed, they are converted to sugar more slowly, helping the body to regulate the level of sugar in the blood stream. Low fat dairy products in particular have been linked to a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Drinking milk has also been shown to help protect against both breast and colorectal cancer. Numerous studies have shown that the people who drink the most milk have the lowest risk of developing this form of the disease.
Milk is clearly a remarkable source of nourishment but the ability to enjoy all its benefits, whether bought direct from the supermarket or through a daily milk delivery, is far from universal. While in Great Britain, Scandinavia, most of Europe and India, milk drinkers are the norm, globally, two out of three adults are unable to tolerate it once they reach adulthood.
All babies produce lactase, the enzyme that allows mammals to digest milk, but in many people, the levels produced decline sharply after the first few years of life. According to the most recent scientific studies, the genetic mutation that created people who produce lactase throughout their entire lives first appeared in Turkey around 10,000 B.C and then spread rapidly to neighbouring countries and beyond.