Health & Fitness blog Uncategorized Dairy products in the diet of an athlete

Dairy products in the diet of an athlete

Dairy products are considered to be controversial in the diet. Don’t be. Milk and dairy products are a valuable source of protein, calcium and, to a lesser extent, other ingredients that are needed in the diet of an athlete. Unconsidered elimination can do more harm than good.
At the beginning it is worth noting that dairy products, despite their common origin, are not a homogeneous group. Some are characterised by a high protein content (e.g. skyr yoghurt, cottage cheese or curd), while others (e.g. rennet-ripened cheeses – commonly known as “yellow cheeses”, spreadable cheeses) are an important source of fats. Many dairy products contain a lot of protein and a lot of fat, which changes their nutritional and health value. Some products also have significant amounts of added sugar (e.g. milk desserts and fruit yoghurt) and salt (e.g. yellow and smoked cheeses). This should be kept in mind when talking about specific products and their place in the diet of an athlete. The most common concerns about milk are verified below. Lactose A common allegation against milk is the alleged prevalence of lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is rare in Europe. This is due to the fact that in the European population the lactase encoding gene (lactose digestive enzyme) is still active, also in adulthood. Moreover, people with lactose intolerance can usually consume small amounts of this sugar and feel no discomfort. It is also important to remember that not all dairy products are rich in this sugar. At the same time, there is also a growing range of lactose-free products by adding lactose, which means that this sugar is broken down into glucose and galactose. Lactose should be noticed by athletes who experience gastrointestinal ailments during the starters. Lactose intolerance of a slight intensity may be a problem during intensive exercise.   Estrogens Another concern related to milk are estrogens contained in milk. Indeed, milk contains some amounts of ester and ester sulfate, but these are very small. It is estimated that a serving of 3 glasses of milk provides 70 ng of these hormones, which is less than 0.1% of the amount of estrogen produced by the male body every day. The safe level of estrogen supplied with the diet is considered to be 1% of the daily amount of estrogen produced by the man. Higher amounts of estrogens may be provided by products rich in milk fat (e.g. butter, yellow cheese), but they will still be below the safe limit.   The mucus-forming properties of milk One can hear that milk causes mucus to form in the airways. This could cause respiratory problems and affect the performance of athletes. Currently no studies confirm that this is the case. Interestingly, in one study from the 1990s, the mucus feeling after drinking milk was only declared by people who believed this effect would occur before the study. They felt mucus regardless of whether they got real milk or a soya drink pretending to be milk.   What instead of milk? The elimination of milk and milk products for other than ethical reasons and rare medical problems (e.g. allergy to milk) is unnecessary. People who give up milk should remember to include other sources of calcium and protein in their diet. Soya products (soya drinks, tofu, fermented soya drinks – referred to as “soya yoghurts”) are well suited to this role and can additionally replace dairy products in many recipes. Other sources of calcium are enriched plant-based drinks and some waters and vegetables. Proteins can provide products such as meat, eggs and legumes. The decision to eliminate milk from your diet and how to replace it in your diet is worth discussing with your dietitian.

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