In the 1960s, full-fat milk was everywhere – it was in your cereal, in your tea and given out to schoolkids in lukewarm glass bottles. But fast forward 50 years and you’ll find that Australians are shunning milk at an alarming rate.
New research from the CSIRO and University of Adelaide has found that one in six Australians are choosing to avoid all milk and dairy products in their diet, with potential consequences on their health.
Of particular concern, say researchers, are women – who seem to be dropping dairy in droves because it reportedly gives them some kind of gastrointestinal discomfort like cramps, bloating and wind.
The CSIRO found the majority of Australians who have dropped dairy have done so without a medical diagnosis, being mostly influenced by websites, stories from friends and natural health practitioners.
“The scale of people restricting their diet without a medical reason is very concerning in terms of the public health implications, especially for women,” says Bella Yantcheva, a behavioural scientist who helped conduct the study.
“It means there is potential for nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, or the risk that an underlying health condition could be going untreated.”
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, Aussies are recommended to consume two to three serves of dairy a day, which includes low-fat milks, cheeses and yoghurts.
Women over 51 are advised by the same guidelines to consume four serves of dairy a day as their calcium requirements are much higher than other population groups. This largely due to the fact that menopause leads to a decrease in calcium absorption.
To reach their conclusions, the CSIRO polled over 1000 Australians who were randomly selected from the electoral roll.
The survey participants were quizzed about the food groups they avoided or omitted altogether, like wheat and dairy, and asked to give a reason why.
Interestingly, there may be some correlation with omitting dairy with a general “cutting” down on whole food groups, because the results showed that one third of people who shunned milk from their lives also did the same with wheat.
There’s little data on what’s prompted this en-masse milk mutiny, but some speculate that the rise of paleo, primal and plant based diets may play a significant role. But according to Yantcheva, the rationale to drop dairy isn’t just some flash-in-the-pan idea created by fad diets.
“The numbers show that cutting out significant, basic food groups isn’t a fad but something far more serious,” says Ms Yantcheva.
“It’s not just about missing out on the food type being avoided and risking your health, but also possibly over-consuming other foods to compensate as well.”
Somewhat ironically, a few days also marks World Milk Day, which was established by the United Nations in 2001 as a way of ‘recognising the importance milk plays in global nutrition.’
Maybe if the researchers did their research they’d find that no one needs milk in their lives because it’s for baby cows not adult humans. They would also find that any nutrients found in milk can be found in a plethora of veg and even whole countries (China for example) have been living with very little if any at all dairy in their diets since forever with no maleffects.
2016 by Stuart Marsh