United Kingdom

Milk and Oral Health

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A new study on milk and diet has found that high levels of dairy calcium and serum vitamin D in milk can lead to greater weight loss.

The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined over a period of two years more than 300 men and women, aged 40-65, who were overweight or at risk of putting on excess weight.

Even with allowance for variables such as age, gender, baseline Body Mass Index and total fat intake, the study concludes that an increased intake of milk – for those already on diets – led to greater weight loss.

The British Dental Health Foundation, the leading oral health charity in the United Kingdom, was quick to say that dentists have been saying all along that milk and water are the only two safe drinks when it comes to maintaining good teeth and general oral health.

Milk, which contains significant amounts of saturated fat, protein and calcium as well as vitamin C, has been reported to reduce the risk of many diseases in babies. Cow milk contains, on average, 3.4 percent protein, 3.6 percent fat, and 4.6 percent lactose, 0.7 percent minerals and supplies 66 kilo calories of energy per 100 grams.

The largest producers of dairy products and milk today are India followed by the United States, Germany and Pakistan.

The top 10 per capita consumers of cow milk and cow milk products in the world are Finland, Sweden, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

French chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur in 1863 invented pasteurization, a method of killing harmful bacteria in beverage and food products. Pasteurization kills harmful microorganisms by heating the milk for a short time and then cooling it for storage and transportation.

Ultra pasteurization, or ultra-high temperature treatment (UHT on your milk labels), heats the milk to a higher temperature for a shorter time that the standard process. This extends its shelf life and allows the milk to be stored unrefrigerated because of the longer lasting sterilization.

“It is not clear if a greater intake of milk and calcium itself helped to increase weight loss, or if it could be down to a reduced calorie intake caused by replacing sugar containing fizzy drinks with milk,” observed Dr. Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation.

But if knowing that milk consumption leads to weight loss encourages more adults to swap sodas and fruit juices for milk, “then in terms of oral health it is definitely a good thing,” he said.

Reducing the intake of drinks that contain high levels of sugar will protect teeth against decay, and drinking less fizzy drinks will help decrease risks of dental erosion, he said in a press statement.

“People often do not realize that it is how often sugar occurs in a diet, rather than how much sugar, that makes the difference to the condition of the teeth,” Dr. Carter pointed out.

“Each time someone eats or drinks something containing sugar, their teeth are under attack for an hour, before the balance in the mouth is corrected,” he said. “Minimizing how often these attacks occur is a vital part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums,” said Dr. Carter whose foundation is an advocate of brushing teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, and visiting a dentist as often as recommended.