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June is national dairy month

June is National Dairy Month and has been since the National Dairy Council began promoting it in 1939. It was originally created as National Milk Month by a group of chain stores to promote drinking milk and increase demand when milk production was at its peak.

Dairy is one of the food groups that most people enjoy, and one of the benefits of dairy is the calcium you get from consuming it. In fact, to get the same amount of calcium as an eight-ounce glass of milk, you would have to eat seven oranges, six slices of whole wheat bread, or one-fourth cup of broccoli. However, one of the downsides of the dairy group is lactose, a sugar that is present in milk and milk products. Lactose causes gastrointestinal issues in some people.

Lactose is a disaccharide, which means it is two simple sugars that have been linked. Lactose needs the lactase enzyme, which is produced in the small intestine, to break the lactose into glucose and galactose for absorption. If lactase enzyme is missing or too low, lactose goes to the large intestine and can cause gas, bloating, cramping, or even diarrhea. Taking an over-the-counter lactase enzyme before eating any meal with dairy can help keep these symptoms away.

Just as milk was promoted in 1939, it still is today. Do you remember the “Got Milk” ad campaign? Those milk-mustache pictures, which first appeared in 1993, are ingrained in our memories. But did you know that the first “got milk” ad showed a man trying to answer a trivia question with a mouthful of peanut butter. If only he had only had a glass of milk, he could have swallowed the peanut butter, answered the question, and been a big winner.

The new milk campaign, “Milk Life,” is about getting the most out of your life and using milk as a great source of protein and energy. During the Olympics, several ads focused on the benefits of milk in molding Olympic ski team members.

So how many servings of dairy do we need each day and what counts as a serving? During their first year, children should be drinking whole milk daily. Two-to-three-year-olds need two cups a day. Four-to-eight-year-olds need two and a-half cups, and everyone else needs three cups per day.

Thankfully for those who don’t like to drink milk, other dairy options may be more appealing. For example, each of the following counts as a serving: one-and-a-half ounces of natural cheese, two ounces of processed cheese, one cup of yogurt, or a cup-and-a-half of ice cream.

Cheers to milk…drink up!