Food plays a vital role in ensuring we get all essential nutrients to stay healthy and dairy foods, especially milk not only contains the essential nutrients but includes vitamins and most importantly protein. (Photo source: IE)
By Dr.Dharini Krishnan,
Good health, today, is perhaps one of the topmost focused areas for most of us. While washing hands, daily exercise and a good hygiene routine will minimise the chance of falling ill, the best way to stay healthy is to maintain a good immune system.
Food and healthy immune system
Food plays a vital role in ensuring we get all essential nutrients to stay healthy and dairy foods, especially milk not only contains the essential nutrients but includes vitamins and most importantly protein. Our body requires protein because it aids in generating white blood cells (WBC) which further help in forming the antibodies that fight infections from within. Furthermore, proteins are of two kinds – high biological value and low biological value. Dairy products such as milk, curd and paneer are an easy and affordable way to add high biological value proteins to our diet.
Milk is also an incredible source of vitamin D, B12, magnesium, zinc and thiamine that contribute heavily to immunity building. It is potassium rich and helps in keeping blood pressure in check, diminishing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is also rich in other nutrients like Vitamin A that is significant in promoting healthy skin. All nine essential amino acids – histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine – necessary for principal functioning of the body are present in milk. In India, milk is readily available at our doorstep, and consuming only 400-500 ml regularly is enough to add a substantial helping of protein to our everyday meals and building immunity.
However, the main challenge when it comes to milk is that the awareness of daily protein requirements in people differs from city to city. According to the Godrej Jersey South India Protein Gap Study, 80% of consumers surveyed are aware of the importance of protein, but a glaring 68% are unaware of the daily requirement. Quantity of protein differs from individual to individual based on their weight and their activity. For a person weighing between 55 to 70kgs, an average of 55-70 grams of protein would be adequate.
Toned milk or full cream milk?
Many people are of the opinion that milk leads to weight gain due to its high fat content consumption. Godrej Jersey’s South India Protein Gap Report states 48% consumers believe that milk causes weight gain. It is therefore important to know that there are many variants available in the market today such as toned milk (With less fat), full cream milk (high fat), skimmed milk (with 0% fat) etc. and one can also choose the type of milk to extract its benefits according to their choice.
Given that the high biological value proteins come from dairy products such as milk, curd or paneer and proteins helps in fighting the infection by creating antibodies against the infection, adults who are conscious of weight gain can also include dairy products other than milk.
Dairy has always been a fundamental part of most people’s diets due to its robust benefits. And currently, it is even more crucial to shield and boost our immune systems to stay safe and healthy.
The author is a Registered Dietician (RD) with a Doctorate in Science (PhD) and practising as a consultant dietician. Views expressed are the author’s own.