The Importance of Dairy Foods in Your Diet after 50

 In Health and Fitness

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Did you know that it’s estimated that the average woman loses up to 10 per cent of her bone mass in the first five years after menopause?

I didn’t. But sometimes when I stand next to my grown up children I do get the distinct feeling that I might be shrinking in height, so I’m willing to believe it.

I’ve also found out that research suggests that osteoporosis affects a whopping 23% of women over 50 and about half of all women over the age of 60 years will experience at least one fracture due to osteoporosis.

If you want to check out these facts (and more) you can head over to the Better Health Channel and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Importance of dairy foods

I’ve always included dairy products in my diet in moderation, but probably not enough because I’ve only just found out that after the age of 50 the recommended daily dairy consumption (milk, cheese and yoghurt) is 4 serves a day.

According to The Australian Dietary Guidelines this is what individual serves look like.

  • 40g or two slices of cheese
  • 250ml or one glass of milk
  • 200g or ¾ cup yoghurt
  • 120g or 1/3 cup ricotta

I was surprised to learn that only 0.5% of women aged between 50-69 actually meet the Australian Dietary Guidelines dairy serve recommendations. (JC Doidge, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2013).

Yikes, I’d be in that statistic too. No wonder I’m probably shrinking 😉

Keeping fit and healthy after 50 is a big thing in these parts, at home and here on Lifestyle Fifty, so I decided to catch up with lovely Amber Beaumont (below), an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and ask her some searching questions about dairy and our health, the importance of dairy in our diets after 50, and how best to achieve the amounts required for our health without packing on the pounds.

Amber Beaumont, Importance of Dairy Foods

Please can you explain a little more about the health benefits of dairy in our diets?

Dairy foods including milk, cheese and yoghurt are one of the five food groups recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines for good health and wellbeing. These foods contain a unique package of essential nutrients, which are important for blood and the immune system, eyesight, muscle and nerve function, healthy skin, energy, and growth and repair in all parts of the body.

They’re also a source of high quality protein which becomes more important as we age due to a decline in lean body mass which leads to a drop in metabolic rate, contributing to an expanding waistline and increased risk of chronic disease.

While it’s widely known that dairy is important for strong bones and teeth, there are other health benefits for consuming milk, yoghurt and cheese.

Eating amounts consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and the metabolic syndrome.

Importance of dairy foods

What kinds of dairy foods are beneficial to eat when you’re over the age of 50?

The science supporting the health benefits of dairy foods focuses on milk, cheese and yoghurt. This includes both full-fat and reduced-fat varieties; flavoured in the case of milk and yoghurt and long life or UHT milks. Custard also falls into this group.

These dairy foods should make up the bulk of your intake from day-to-day but there are a number of other delicious dairy foods we can also enjoy in moderation including butter, cream, sour cream and ice-cream which most people love and can be used to enhance every day meals and dishes.

Could you give us some tips for the healthy consumption of dairy foods?

Milk, cheese and yoghurt are convenient and tasty and there is a variety to suit all different tastes and preferences and meal occasions.

Importance of dairy foods

When it comes to milk, choose whichever you prefer. All types have the same health benefits. Add it to your breakfast cereal or porridge in the morning, make a fruit smoothie, stir it through soups, use it in tea and coffee.

Importance of dairy foods

When it comes to cheese – you can’t beat Australian. From aged cheddar in a sandwich to feta in a salad to ricotta spread on fruit toast and mozzarella on your homemade pizza.

Importance of dairy foods

Yoghurt is the perfect hunger buster. It also contains friendly bacteria for good gut health.  Use it to top fruit salad, have a tub as a morning or afternoon snack or use it to make a creamy dip like tzatziki.

Importance of dairy foods

Fast Fact : Amber told me that although 80% of women over 50 believe dairy foods are essential for good health, research suggests that about half of all women over the age of 60 years will experience at least one fracture due to osteoporosis.

Bio: Amber Beaumont is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) at Dairy Australia and is passionate about educating older women on the health benefits of dairy foods to ensure they achieve their daily recommendations. Amber has over 10 years’ experience working in areas including public health, food industry, community and clinical nutrition. She is also an active member of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA).

The information in this post is intended to be used as a guide only. Please seek independent medical advice where appropriate, or advice from a qualified dietitian, before making changes to your dietary intake.

My question today Lifestylers, is … do you eat dairy foods and if so, do you eat enough? 

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Showing 12 comments
  • Nina
    Reply

    I live in vegan-loving Fremantle and I think it’s fair to say that diary products have a bad rap in this part of the hood. We all seem to think that we need to drink almond milk and eat cashew cheese. I’m not in my fifties yet, but I’ve been steering away from the diary because of all of the mixed messages.

    • Johanna
      Reply

      I do think we need to look at all the mixed messages we’ve been getting over the recent years Nina. That’s why I’m fascinated with this current Legendairy campaign and all the new research.

      • Nina
        Reply

        I agree, I’ll be following. I think we need to be more realistic about diet and go back to being sensible rather than influenced by celebrities and their dietary advice.

        • Johanna
          Reply

          Totally agree Nina. Let’s get back to common sense and sensible.

  • Reply

    Great reminder Jo! I’m not a vegan, but am curious about whether any research has been done comparing vegan women and dairy eaters over the age of 50, to see whether there is any difference in bone density. I saw something recently about doing weights classes as a way of protecting bone density. A reminder to look into whether there are any classes tailored for over 50s in my area….

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Yes bone density is important Jo, and I’m not sure. I will ask a dietitian to comment.

  • Rae Hilhorst
    Reply

    I love my cheese, milk and yogurt. Listening to my bodies cravings indicate what I’m missing. As an example having recently returned from an overseas trip I had very little dairy. Stuffing my face with dairy now x

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Hi Rae, I like how you’ve mentioned listening to your body and what it’s craving – as long as it’s not wine and chocolate! But you’re right, when you haven’t had something for a while that has been doing you good, your body tells you. Glad you’re a Dairy Girl too 🙂

  • Jo
    Reply

    Thanks Natalie! Great that you support the dairy initiative as a dietician … and love your healthy eating tips

  • Natalie
    Reply

    Although I am not over the age of 50 I try to include the recommended amount of dairy into my diet. Being a dietitian myself makes it easier to remember and include it in my diet daily. I love having yoghurt and milk on my cereal plus a milky coffee and then milk in my tea throughout the day. I also occasionally have some yoghurt or cheese on crackers as a snack. Great article Jo xx

  • Jo
    Reply

    Hi Kathy, yes it’s been interesting to read about all the modern research about dairy products and like you I don’t eat enough.

  • Kathy Marris
    Reply

    No I do not eat near enough dairy food, apart from a few scoops of yoghurt for breakfast and maybe a milk cappuccino. I think we all believed dairy products to be high in fat so we pulled back on them big time. I actually have a bit of lactose intolerance so I don’t eat a lot of dairy, but I do take a calcium supplement daily. I notice my 85 year old mum is shrinking with age and she is a little stooped over. One of the joys of ageing! Good to know that dairy foods are now acceptable to eat as part of a healthy diet!

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