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CNE Dairy Day 2023/24: Staying stronger for longer

In November 2023 and February 2024, dietetics and nutrition professionals gathered for another continued nutrition education event hosted by the Consumer Education Project of Milk SA. And as in previous years, it was a day packed with valuable insights around the health and nutrition benefits of dairy. From the attendees’ attentive listening and enthusiastic questions and feedback, it was clear that the event is not to be missed on the nutrition education calendar.

In line with the day’s theme – ‘Staying stronger for longer’ – talks focused on the role of dairy throughout life – from before birth to old age.

Dr Sandra Luliano joined the meeting remotely from the University of Melbourne to kick off the day. She shared findings from comprehensive research in Australia on the lifelong benefit of including dairy in the diet. She unpacked study results that show how the calcium and protein content of dairy not only contributes to bone accrual during the adolescent years but also protects against fracture risk in the later years and helps with maintaining muscle mass in the elderly. She also shared a thought-provoking analysis of the cost benefit associated with adding dairy to the diet of elderly consumers in retirement houses compared with that of treatment and rehabilitation of a hip fracture.

Dr Rivkeh Haryono of Dairy Australia followed on with a presentation on their campaign to share the results of this research beyond the academic space. Their tailoring innovative and targeted communication strategies based on scientific evidence culminated in policy change, with the importance of dairy in the elderly’s diet being taken into account in the update of the country’s new dietary guidelines.

The first two presentations set the scene for Dr Monique Piderit of Nutritional Solutions, who shared practical advice for communicating the health benefits of dairy through social media. She emphasised the importance of knowing and understanding the consumer audience, and subsequently sharing tailored and topic-focused information in a visually appealing way. However, she also stressed the value of keeping posts professional and evidence-based, and why nutrition professionals have a responsibility to stand up to miscommunication.

After a delicious buffet-style brunch tastefully presented on the veranda, Dr Liska Robb and Prof Corinna Walsh of the University of the Free State explained why adequate nutrition is important for optimal childhood development and how dairy contributes to improving the nutritional status of expecting mothers, young children and adults throughout life, especially in context of the new national dietary intake survey, completed in 2022 (publication pending).

Through their presentations, the pair explained why the unique nutritional composition of dairy, given the food matrix, is beneficial to health – from conception to old age. Choline, as found richly in milk and dairy, was highlighted as one of the most important nutrients needed for healthy child development, not only because of its role in healthy brain and neural function in the child but also because it contributes to good maternal health in order to support a healthy growing baby.  The role of dairy in regulating blood glucose levels and maintaining bone health was again confirmed, emphasising the importance of adequate dairy intake throughout life.

The last presentation cycled back to the production side, talking about the importance of sustainable dairy farming. Environmental management – from protecting the soil and water resources to caring for animals – is central to ensuring the health of the dairy industry and continued nutritional benefit to the consumer. As the case study showed, sustainable dairy farming is an inextricable part of the cycle of healthy nutrition, to help consumers stay stronger for longer.

Recording of the presentations
2022 - Matrix Explained: Health benefits Beyond Individual Nutrients

Do you know what the food matrix is? Or that the physical and nutritional structure of food affects how it is digested and
used by the body? Learn more about the food matrix and how it works in dairy products by watching the recording of this webinar hosted by the Consumer Education Project of Milk SA on 9 November 2022.

An important insight from current research is that food is more than the sum of its nutrients. The concept of the food
matrix suggests that the nutritional and health effects of a food are due to both its structure and its nutrient composition
and, in turn, also their interaction. In the case of dairy products, the dairy matrix has been shown to have a positive effect
on overall health. For example, although dairy foods contain saturated fatty acids, the intake of dairy foods is not linked to cardiovascular disease and could even contribute to reducing cardiovascular disease in some cases.

In recent years, the focus of nutrition science has therefore shifted from nutrients to whole foods – because foods are
eaten as a whole and together with others. Consequently, dietary guidelines have also moved away from nutrient-based approaches in favour of advocating food-based dietary patterns.

In this webinar, Prof. Arne Astrup of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Denmark, and Prof. Renée Blaauw of the Human
Nutrition Division, University of Stellenbosch, unpacks the science behind the food matrix as it applies to dairy and explain how it affects overall health.

Recording of the Dairy matrix explained webinar
Other CNE Events
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