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The jury’s still out when it comes to dairy foods, as researchers and dairy advocates clash over the benefits of milk, yoghurt and cheese.
Harvard professor David Ludwig raised eyebrows last month when he published a research paper questioning the necessity of three servings of dairy per day, as recommended on the common food pyramid.
Dr Ludwig, a director of an obesity prevention clinic in Boston, said animal milk was only a recent addition to the human diet, and was unnecessary for overall health.
"Adequate dietary calcium for bone health, often cited as the primary rationale for high intakes of milk, can be obtained from many other sources,” he wrote.
"The point is, we can get plenty of calcium from a whole range of foods.
"On a gram for gram basis, cooked kale has more calcium than milk. Sardines, nuts, seeds, beans, green leafy vegetables are all sources of calcium."
However, another review in the International Journal of Obesity last year argued that above average dairy consumption led to greater weight loss among those on restrictive diets. It concluded that 3-4 serves of dairy in a day was more likely to lead to weight loss around the belly.
More recently in February, a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found a link between a high dairy intake and acne. However, it should be noted that while diet does not cause acne, it can exacerbate the problem.
So with all this apparently conflicting information about the benefits of dairy products, what should you do?
At the Adelaide Bariatric Centre, our specialised dietitian will help you find a bariatric diet that best fits your lifestyle. Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or something else altogether, you should be able to access the same surgery as those without dietary restrictions. Often, we will recommend specialised multivitamins for those who may lack certain nutrients.
However, going vegan or dairy-free doesn’t always mean you have to be taking calcium supplements. With a carefully balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods such as greens and soy products, you can have bones that are just as healthy – if not healthier – than those on a regular diet. The most important thing is to get thorough advice from trustworthy experts, who can guide you through the process of analysing your intake.