Diet and Dental Health: The Dairy Advantage

“Say Cheese!” I often say this before taking pictures of family or friends. I don’t know if uttering these words results in a better photo but, as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I’m aware of studies showing that consuming cheese and other dairy foods as part of a healthful diet contributes to a healthy smile.

Diet and Dental Health: The Dairy Advantage

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a time to increase awareness of the benefits of dental health and strategies to achieve it for children, their parents, teachers, and others. Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease both nationally and in Michigan. Do you know that 58% of third-grade Michigan students have experienced tooth decay, which can interfere with their social development and academic success? Prevention of this oral health disease is important.

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in dental plaque comes into contact with sugar in the mouth, causing acid to attack the teeth. Strategies to reduce tooth decay include brushing teeth twice a day, flossing daily, visiting your  dentist regularly, and consuming a balanced, nutritious diet containing dairy foods, fruits and vegetables, grains, and protein foods such as lean meats, eggs, and beans.

Diet’s Role in Dental Health. The impact of foods and beverages on risk of tooth decay depends on their form, how often sugary or acidic foods and beverages are consumed, their nutritional make-up, and the combination of foods eaten.

Grazing on sugar-containing foods with minimal nutritional value such as candy, especially hard or sticky candies, cookies, cakes, and snack foods like chips, or sipping on acidic beverages such as soda, lemonade, juices, and sports drinks can increase risk of tooth decay. Prolonged exposure of teeth to sugary foods and drinks provides food for bacteria, which can lead to acid production, erosion of tooth enamel, and eventually tooth decay. Because some nutritious, acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits can be harmful for tooth enamel, these foods should be consumed as part of a meal, rather than by themselves. Also, while some dried fruits like raisins are nutritious, they are sticky and can adhere to teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Fresh fruit is a better choice for dental health.

Don’t Overlook Dairy’s Benefits. A number of foods help protect teeth from decay because of the nutrients they provide, which help build tooth enamel, and/or their ability to stimulate saliva production, which washes harmful acids and food particles away from teeth and helps neutralize acid. As discussed in a previous blog, studies have shown that dairy foods like cheese, milk, and plain yogurt are beneficial for dental health. These foods provide children with protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus, not only to support their growth and development, but also to build strong teeth and resist tooth decay.

In particular, certain cheeses such as aged Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella, and Monterey Jack help fight tooth decay. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry identifies cheese, yogurt, and chocolate milk, as well as vegetables and peanut butter, as healthy snacks for children. Findings from a study suggest that a higher intake of cheese and other dairy foods during pregnancy may reduce risk of childhood tooth decay.

Diet and Dental Health: The Dairy Advantage

Dental Health Tips. Children today are faced with a bewildering array of food choices, from fresh produce and many nutritious dairy products to sugar-laden convenience meals and snack foods. To help parents and other care providers get kids on the right track to dental health, the American Dental Association recommends the following tips:

  • Keep added sugar to a minimum by offering children nutritious, tooth friendly food and beverage choices. Save sugary foods and drinks for mealtime.
  • Limit between-meal snacks. If kids crave a snack, offer them nutritious foods such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables, or nuts.
  • If your kids chew gum, make it sugarless.
  • Monitor consumption of beverages – instead of soft drinks, encourage children to choose water (particularly fluoridated) and milk.
  • Help children develop good brushing and flossing habits.
  • Schedule regular visits for children with a dentist.

Bottom Line. Achieving and maintaining a healthy smile starts in childhood and can be accomplished by encouraging good oral health practices, including consuming a nutritious diet containing dairy foods.

What to Eat Before, During and After Exercise

Good nutrition is critical to fueling your exercise and it can be a balancing act to get it right.   Eating too much at the wrong time can cause stomach cramping or undesirable weight gain for those trying to lose weight.  Not eating enough can leave you short on gas, with muscle cramps or worse yet, injured.

There are three different times that you need to fuel: before, during and after exercise.  Each is equally important if you want the experience to be enjoyable and get the highest payback for your efforts.

What to Eat Before During and After Exercise

Before Exercise

Wait at least 2-4 hours after eating a meal to exercise depending on what and how much you have eaten.  While it’s hard to focus if you exercise hungry, you also don’t want undigested food in your stomach.

The best pre-exercise meal should be hydrating and rich in carbohydrate, moderate in protein while relatively low in fat and fiber.  Here’s the science behind the recommendation:

  • Solid foods take approximately 1-4 hours to pass through the stomach, whereas most liquids will empty in 20 minutes.
  • Foods are made up of carbohydrate, protein and fat.  Fat takes longer to digest than protein, and carbohydrates digest the fastest.  Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that slows everything down in the stomach by absorbing water and delaying the rate at which food leaves the stomach.  Too much fiber, found in whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, may cause cramping in the intestinal tract.
  • When you exercise blood is channeled away from the stomach to working muscles and organs.  Anything remaining in the stomach when exercise intensity rises becomes very uncomfortable and highly distracting.

Enjoy these simple fueling suggestions:

  • 1 cup water plus 1 cup low fat milk and a whole grain bagel topped with peanut butter or low fat fruited muffin and string cheese.
  • 1 cup of water plus 1 cup 100% fruit juice and a turkey sandwich with peaches canned in natural juice or grilled chicken on a bun with mandarin oranges.
  • 1 cup water plus 1 cup low fat milk and a medium-sized pasta or rice based meal with a side of green beans or baby carrots.

Learn what your body can tolerate too. While some of you might enjoy a moderately sized traditional meal before exercise, others may do better with 2 cups of liquid and a sports bar.


During Exercise

Many people make the mistake of rehydrating with electrolyte drinks whenever they exercise.  Unless it’s a really hot day or the humidity is high, tap water is the perfect beverage to keep you hydrated when you exercise for less than an hour.  It’s also free, portable and the environmentally friendly choice.

For those of you who do need to fuel for extended play, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends:

  • 3-8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes when exercising < 60 minutes
  • 3-8 ounces of sports beverage every 15-20 minutes when exercising > 60 minute

They also recommend that you periodically measure your sweat rate.  This can be done by weighing yourself before and after exercise to get an idea of how much fluid you lose.

It’s important to try and minimize this loss because body fluids help maintain the brain to muscle communication and blood flow with oxygen, electrolytes and nutrients for strong muscle contraction. Staying within 1 percent of your starting weight means you’ve properly hydrated during exercise.  Rehydrate with 2 cups of fluid for every pound lost.

What to Eat Before During and After Exercise

After Exercise

Refuel within 30 – 45 minutes of exercise.  This is when your blood flow is the greatest and muscles are like a sponge, soaking up fluid, electrolytes and nutrients that you’ve exhausted in your workout.

  • For the exerciser who is looking to lose weight, I recommend backing up their workout into a meal so that they replenish but don’t compromise the calorie deficit they need to lose weight.
  • For the recreational exerciser who works out three to four times per week trying to maintain a basic level of fitness, I recommend they focus on rehydrating with water or one cup of low fat chocolate milk.
  • For the athlete who is training to prepare for their next athletic event, I recommend a 3:1 carbohydrate: protein ratio. The carbohydrate is used to refuel muscle glycogen (energy) stores and the protein helps rebuild muscle tissue.  They may also need to include a salty snack to replace electrolytes.

My favorite recovery snacks include a:

  1. Low fat Greek yogurt with a couple tablespoons of granola or oats and diced fruit
  2. Bowl of cold cereal and low fat milk
  3. Tall glass of low fat chocolate milk
  4. Bowl of soup with crackers
  5. Whole grain toast with an egg.
  6. Graham crackers with peanut butter and low fat milk
  7. Smoothie made with ½ cup Greek yogurt, ½ cup low fat milk and ½ cup berries.

If you have more questions on how to properly fuel before, during and after exercise, contact a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.  They are the experts in providing science based nutrition answers for all of your exercise needs.  Go to and click on “Find the Expert” in the upper right hand corner.  In the meantime, have a great workout!

8 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Many of us welcome the New Year with the best intentions of eating healthier. And with the recent release of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we have yet another reminder of the importance of eating healthy all year-round.

What I often hear from friends and family is that while they understand the basics of eating healthy, they don’t have the budget for it.  The reality is mealtime doesn’t have to be complicated or costly! There are a few tricks and tips I follow when it comes to eating healthy without breaking the bank.

8 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget | Milk Means More blog

My tricks and tips for eating healthy on a budget:

  1. Plan a weekly menu. Taking the time to plan meals means huge time-savings and money-savings when it comes eating healthy. A plan gets you organized, it gives you some direction and it makes you efficient in the grocery store. Take a look at your pantry or fridge before you start shopping so you don’t purchase something you already have. Also, plan to purchase what you are actually going to use to prevent food waste.
  1. Make a shopping list. And be sure you stick to the list! A list saves time and money (and sanity) while grocery shopping. Stick to the list while at the store, especially if you are on a tight budget. To keep your grocery list from growing too long, prepare meals that include similar ingredients throughout the week. Skip highly processed items and snack foods, which can increase your total spending and fill your cart with not-so-healthy items.
  1. Check the circular for deals and coupons. Or you can also check out your supermarkets website! The circular helps me become aware of prices and brands. Higher price doesn’t always mean higher quality or nutrition—take a moment to compare.
  1. Focus on nutrient-dense foods. Selecting nutrient-rich foods and beverages first is a way to make better choices within your daily eating plan. Nutrient-rich foods include brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt, and lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts. Milk is one of my favorite nutrient-rich purchases. At $0.25 per 8 ounce serving, milk is a nutritional bargain, providing 8 grams of high-quality protein in each cup.
  1. Buy in bulk. Many foods, like grains, are available in bulk for a lower price. They also keep for a long time if you keep them in airtight containers. Another trick I like to use when buying in bulk has to do with my family’s favorite dairy foods. While my children love fruit-flavored yogurt, I like to buy a large container of plain or vanilla fat-free yogurt, and flavor it myself with fresh or frozen fruit.
  1. Factor in leftovers: Leftovers can be a lifesaver when you have those 5 p.m. hungry moments after a long day. Prepare a large batch of favorite recipes on your day off and freeze in individual containers. You can then use them throughout the week and save on the takeout temptation.
  1. Eat at home. While it might be a bummer to have to do your own dishes, cooking and eating at home is generally less expensive than dining out. My family and I live in a city that has wonderful restaurants; both dine in and carry out. It’s tempting to eat out often! But by making more meals at home I can control what goes in my body and take it easy on the credit card.
  1. Shop seasonally, and enjoy foods that are always in-season. If you compare prices of produce items when they are in-season versus out-of-season, you’ll often notice an increase in price. So try to stick to purchasing foods that are in-season. And if you are really craving strawberries in December, check the frozen foods section for a great deal!


For great deals on foods that are always in season, head straight to the dairy section of the grocery store. You’ll always find milk, cheese, and yogurt and a variety of brands and prices, all year round.

With a little know-how and planning, you can enjoy nutritious foods while sticking to a tight budget. Mealtime doesn’t have to be complicated; by sticking the basics of healthy eating and shopping for nutrient-dense foods, you can ensure you are providing you and your family the very best foods to eat, all while keeping your budget in check!

Pine Tree Elementary Celebrates Fuel Up to Play 60 Success with Special Visit from Detroit Lions Running Back Joique Bell

“Pine Tree Strong” could be heard bouncing off the walls as Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell entered the gym.  Mouths dropped open and huge grins ensued.  This glimpse into Pine Tree Elementary’s morning was a moment our students will never forget and aided in our building’s “strong of mind, strong of body, and strong of character” health focus.

Our school, Pine Tree Elementary, has been working very hard over the past several years to create a healthy environment for our students and families.  Last year, we officially began our Health and Wellness Initiative.  The United Dairy Industry of Michigan and the Fuel Up to Play 60 program have been helpful in putting our plans into action.

Every day, as a part of our initiative, the students begin their day doing building-wide exercises, have PE and incorporate classroom brain breaks.  We have also created taste tests where students can try new fruits and vegetables and vote on their favorites.  A school-wide favorite is, of course, smoothie day.  Students experiment with milk, yogurt, fruits and vegetables to create delicious smoothies.

But today was the most thrilling thing to happen to Pine Tree, yet!  The students could tell when walking into the gym that something was different.  There was a special excitement in the air. It was exhilarating enough to have the Fuel Up to Play 60 banners decorating our gym, members from the United Dairy Industry of Michigan in our building and film crews recording our Fun Friday Dance Party, but to have an NFL football player walk in to dance with us was over the top.

Pine Tree Elementary Celebrates Fuel Up to Play 60 Success

We were so lucky and fortunate to be chosen as one of five schools nationwide to be filmed for a promo that would air during halftime of an NFL game.  The entire school was doing our own fitness version of “Whip and Nae Nae” when, much to our shock, Joique Bell entered and began to dance with us!  The 460 students and staff had the opportunity to show off and teach Joique all the moves.

After school, 30 lucky students were able to run drills with Joique.  He was phenomenal, teaching the students the correct way to stand (arms with proper foot forward).  Balls flew and cheers erupted as the students caught ball after ball.  Joique even taught the students his touchdown dance!  He not only taught them the proper techniques, but encouraged their love of exercise.

Pine Tree Elementary Celebrates Fuel Up to Play 60 Success

Later, 10 students helped Joique make healthy, dairy-rich smoothies with fresh fruit and vegetables.  The students “didn’t mind” the kale but “loved” the yogurt and milk.  The highlight was when Joique took the lid off the blender before he shut it off and the smoothie shot all over.  The students were able to try all of the smoothie varieties while Joique took a huge gulp right out of the blender!

Pine Tree Elementary Celebrates Fuel Up to Play 60 Success

Having Fuel Up to Play 60 and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan visit will be a highlight of all these students’ elementary years.  Who wouldn’t like being on National TV with a football star?  The energy created will fuel our Health and Wellness initiative for years to come!

Watch our national television debut!

About Pine Tree Elementary and our Guest Bloggers:

Jennifer Heck, Pam Moreman and Amanda Kulik, Pine Tree Elementary School Kindergarten, 5th grade, and 3rd grade teachers, respectively

Pine Tree Elementary School, located in Lake Orion, MI was recently recognized as a Michigan school actively participating in the Fuel Up to Play 60 Program. Created by the National Dairy Council and National Football League (NFL), this program empowers kids to eat healthy, get active and make positive, healthy changes for themselves and their schools. At Pine Tree Elementary School, students had the opportunity to participate in a variety of healthy eating and physical activity plays. From taste testing new foods during a March Madness Taste Test Bracket event to daily in-class brain breaks, students were able to get active and fuel up in fun and inspiring ways. To learn more about the Fuel Up to Play 60 program or to learn how your school can get involved, please visit

Being a Farm Kid is Tough

The truth is, I didn’t grow up on a farm.  I, like most other people, can only imagine what being a farm kid is really like.  So here I am, an adult co-owner of a farm, living the farm kid life through my own kids.  I have to say it is everything I could have imagined and then some.  Being a farm kid is tough, but what I couldn’t have imagined was how rewarding and wonderful it is.

Just like I imagined, my kids have chores.  They have chores outside, they have chores in the barn, and they have chores in the house.  They have to keep the yard clean by keeping their bikes and toys put away because no place is off limits to tractors, skid steers, or any other vehicle.  They help with chores by milking, feeding calves, cleaning pens, moving cows, you name it.  They have to help keep the house clean because the less cleaning mommy has to do, the more time she has to spend with them.  Holidays, birthdays, and especially family outings are all dictated by our milking schedule and easily interrupted by cows getting out, a sales person showing up, or any other factor of Murphy’s law, because let’s face it, the cows come first.  Honestly, how many birthday parties have you gone to at someone’s house where you have been instructed not to block one side of an entire driveway with any vehicle so the milkman can come?  I’m going to guess none, unless you hang out with a bunch of dairy farmers.

However, unlike I would have imagined, my kids are completely oblivious to any of this being anything but normal.  In fact, they love it!  Every aspect!  Having to put their bikes away means they get to ride them one more time, and while on the tractor with daddy or mommy, they know it is safe, and they understand why it is so important.  While doing chores they are learning important life lessons.  They laugh wholeheartedly with joy as they work with calves or a favorite cow, and also cry giant tears alongside us when that calf or cow they have helped us care for over the last few days just doesn’t make it.  They call manure mud, and in reality it is possibly a mixture of the two – manure and mud – and they absolutely love being covered in it as much as I love the washing machine in the barn where I can take the first layer off their clothes and spare my washer and “good clothes” in the house.  The chores the kids do in the house give them a huge sense of pride.  They want to learn more, they want to help each other out.  They are thankful when we do things for them because they know the hard work that went into getting it done.


Being a Farm Kid is Tough | Milk Means More blog

Last, but definitely not least, is the relationships our children have with all those sales men, delivery drivers, and all other industry professionals that are in constant contact with our children.  From the bottom of my heart and theirs, we are so thankful for each and every member of our extended family that comes along with being a dairy farmer.  You see, when they pull in the driveway, even if we have something important going on, or an appointment to get to, they are welcome.  They are an extension of our family.  My kids don’t know what it’s like to not have a milkman, feed guy, nutritionist, or even United Dairy Industry of Michigan showing up at our house.  Every single person who comes here has left a piece of themselves with our children and has helped them grow.  Our kids look forward to visitors.  When I see vehicles pull in the driveway and hear my kids start yelling with excitement the names of the people who are in those vehicles and running for the door, my heart is full.  These farm kids are very socialized, and they know they have many adults looking after them, teaching them, and being their friends.

While being a farm kid is tough, for my kids it’s a way of life they wouldn’t trade for the world.  Today, like most days, it is paying off.  Our oldest son loves to get his hands on the Farm Trader before daddy, and today, because of his diligent page-turning, he, his brother, dad, uncles, boy cousins and Papa are at a toy tractor show in the thumb that he wanted to go to the second he found it and tore out the page.  My youngest girl got to spend the day with Grammy while the boys are gone, and as I write, I can hear my oldest smacking piece after piece of Double Bubble in her mouth so she can try every flavor in the bucket that Donald, the feed guy, just dropped off before it’s time for us to go do afternoon chores.

Farm kid: the toughest job my kids will never know they had.

How Fat-free, Low-fat and Whole Milk Fit in the New Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) have been released and recommendations to support a healthy lifestyle have been made. As in years past, dairy is recognized for its important role in promoting health. Dairy foods like low-fat (1%) and fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese offer a variety of essential nutrients that many Americans continue to lack in their diets. Currently, as many as three-fourths of the population isn’t consuming enough dairy.

Dairy foods offer a unique package of nine essential nutrients needed by your body to function properly. For this reason, low-fat or fat-free dairy foods are included in a variety of dietary patterns recommended by the DGA. Intake of dairy foods is linked to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents. Further, healthy eating patterns containing recommended servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy are associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition to their health benefits, I love that dairy foods taste great, are available almost everywhere, come in a variety of options to meet personal preferences, and are relatively inexpensive, especially for the nutrients they provide.

How Fat-free, Low-Fat and Whole Milk Fit in the New Dietary Guidelines | Milk Means More Blog


There are many ways to go about incorporating milk and other dairy foods into your day so you can reap the benefits.

Aim for 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy a day. This might sound familiar. That’s because this recommendation for persons aged nine years and older is the same as in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. There are many strategies to reach this magic number. As an example, this can be accomplished by drinking a refreshing milk-based smoothie at breakfast, pairing creamy yogurt with fresh fruit as a snack, and incorporating a 1 ½ ounce serving of cheese into your favorite dish at dinner.

Think beyond the cereal bowl. Did you know that Americans consume most of their milk as a beverage or poured on top of cereal? This appears to be the case according to the DGA. Although consuming dairy in this way still benefits your health, you might be missing out on additional opportunities to enjoy dairy. If you need some suggestions to include more dairy in your diet, our collection of recipes provides many options for you to choose from and get more creative with milk and other dairy foods. For more tips, visit

Have fun with low-fat yogurt. Speaking of underutilizing dairy, did you know that yogurt only represents 2.6 percent of overall dairy consumption? Milk and cheese appear to be the main dairy foods consumed by Americans according to current intakes reported in the DGA. Just like milk and cheese, yogurt is a nutritional powerhouse and can greatly enhance meals and snacks. Just one cup of yogurt counts as a serving, and with most Americans falling short this could be a great way to help better meet dairy recommendations.

Leaving space for whole-fat dairy. Many people are adding whole-milk dairy products back into their daily meal plan and emerging research has indicated that milkfat may not be as detrimental to our diets as once thought. Although this may seem to contradict the DGA recommendation to include low-fat and fat-free dairy products into your day, there is enough flexibility within the guidelines to make space for whole-fat dairy too. Unlike like previous years, the recommendations this time around don’t make total fat the enemy. Instead, we’re seeing more specific fat guidance given with the idea that fat diversity matters. According to the DGA, saturated fat intake should comprise less than 10% of your diet. With reduced-fat (2%) and whole milk containing 3.1 and 4.5 grams of saturated fat per serving (8 ounces), respectively, those following an 1800 calorie/day weight maintenance diet could afford the occasional (or daily) fuller fat serving while keeping under the 20 gram limit of saturated fat. In fact, the DASH dietary approach showed it possible to incorporate some whole and reduced fat dairy products into healthy dietary patterns while meeting caloric and dietary fat recommendations.

As you look to the DGA for guidance, keep in mind that there are many factors to consider on the individual level when it comes to eating your best. By seeking out nutrient-rich, wholesome foods like milk and other dairy products, it’s easy to start your own healthy eating journey off on the right foot.

Holidays on the Farm

The holidays were upon us again and they always seem to come really fast. I always think that when the next holiday rolls around that I will be better prepared, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Christmas is extra special to me. It’s not only the birth of Jesus but my son, my first child, was born on Christmas morning (quite unexpectedly!). I often find that Christmas is more meaningful to me because of the opportunity I was given to have my child share a birthday with Jesus Christ. When I asked him how he feels to have his birthday on Christmas, he said “I like having my birthday then because it’s unique.”

For Christmas, our tradition always includes going to Christmas Eve Mass, coming home to have dinner, wrap any presents still needing to be finished, read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” hang our Christmas stockings and the key for Santa to get in and then watch “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Then, on Christmas morning, we have cinnamon rolls, celebrate my son’s birthday and open our Christmas presents.

Every other year my husband and his brother alternate who has to cover chores so that not one person is stuck with it every year. On the year that my husband has to do Christmas morning chores, he gets up about 4:00 a.m. and he hurries to feed 600 hungry mouths including the calves that need to be bottle fed, and usually is home around 8:30 a.m. He also tries to help his employees finish up so they can get home to their families. Around Christmas, I saw this post by Jeff Foxworthy that I had to post to our farm Facebook page, Crandall Family Dairy:

Holidays on the Farm | Milk Means More Blog

My youngest, Isabel, when asked how she feels when Dad is at the farm doing chores, she said, “I wish he would hurry up.” Kylie, my middle, said she was impatient having to wait. Thankfully Brad had Christmas morning off this year.

We celebrate with our families at different times. Brad’s family is always before Christmas, around the 22nd and, just in the last couple of years, the whole family started spending the night with his parents and making it a 24-hour experience. There are 10 grandkids so it’s about making memories for the kids.

My family is usually after Christmas. We rotate between my siblings and myself as to who will host. My mom usually always makes leg of lamb and oyster stuffing, two staples that we look forward to. We have Christmas day to ourselves so the kids can enjoy their gifts, we play games, watch movies or take naps.

For New Years, growing up it was fun to watch the ball drop to ring in the New Year. I quickly realized that when you’re married to a dairy farmer, they can’t stay up to ring in the New Year because their New Year will start around 4:30 a.m. Now that the kids are getting older, they are wanting to do that and I find it difficult to stay up that late.

Usually during the holidays I am not only busily scurrying to get things ready for Christmas but I also have to do farm bookwork. I have to start finalizing the year and preparing for taxes. We do our taxes around the 1st of February and have to have them complete by March 1st. So these additional things are extra layers that we add to our holiday plates.

No matter how you celebrate the holidays or who you spend it with, I feel it’s important to understand that you are creating memories and traditions and to appreciate the people you are with. I hope that 2016 brings you and those you are closest to happiness, health and safety. May God bless you.

A Dairy Farm Christmas

Christmas is such a special time!

One of my favorite things about the holiday is spending time with family. On Christmas day, we try to make it possible for our employees to take the day off and get that extra family time. So, we all get up early and work together to give our cows the daily attention they so deserve……no skimping just because it’s Christmas day! We all work hard to make sure they have fresh food, water, have been milked, have any health needs met, and are clean and comfortable for the morning. And, even though it’s a holiday, we don’t mind the work! We love what we do and enjoy working together as a family.

After our work is done, we gather together as a family for a big Christmas breakfast to celebrate the birth of our Savior!  Merry Christmas from the Brock Dairy Farm!

My grandson Nathan enjoying a cookie by the Christmas tree

My grandson Nathan enjoying a cookie by the Christmas tree

Celebrate American Diabetes Month By Raising Your Glass of Milk

November is American Diabetes Month. This year’s theme, “Eat Well, America!sm “, aims to increase awareness of diabetes and encourage healthier food choices to help prevent and manage this disease. Although weight management and physical activity are key strategies to help prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes, other factors may have an important influence. A growing body of evidence suggests dairy may play a promising role.

Diabetes by the numbers.

Nearly 30 million U.S. children and adults are living with diabetes. Another 89 million Americans have prediabetes, which increases their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. About 95% of diabetes is Type 2, a condition in which the body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. Diabetes costs the nation an estimated $245 billion a year and is a leading cause of heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and other complications. If steps are not taken to prevent Type 2 diabetes, its prevalence and consequences may become even more devastating.

Celebrate American Diabetes Month By Raising Your Glass of Milk

Dairy’s role in type 2 diabetes.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans indicates that consuming milk and milk products is associated with reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes in adults. Since release of these guidelines, findings from recent studies support this association and suggest possible mechanisms.

While dairy nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D may be partly responsible for dairy’s observed protective effect for Type 2 diabetes, the following recent studies suggest that dairy protein and milkfat may also contribute to the findings.

  • By improving insulin secretion and blood glucose levels, dairy foods and dairy proteins, particularly whey protein, may have a promising role in managing type 2 diabetes in adults, according to a systematic review of 28 clinical studies. The researchers suggest that increasing protein-rich dairy foods may be a relatively inexpensive and easily implemented way to help manage Type 2 diabetes.
  • Consuming more dairy, particularly fermented dairy foods like cheese and yogurt may also be beneficial, according to a longitudinal study of more than 10,000 Brazilian adults. The researchers suggest that myristic acid, a saturated fatty acid in milkfat, may contribute to the observed protective association between dairy intake and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Full-fat dairy foods like cream, butter, high-fat fermented milk, and cheese may also lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes when incorporated into a well-balanced diet. This was the finding of a prospective study of more than 26,000 Swedish adults. The researchers suggest that specific saturated fatty acids in milkfat may be responsible for the findings.

More research is needed to determine the role dairy foods may play in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes, as well as identify possible mechanisms. Nevertheless, findings to date continue to support “eating well” by following a healthy eating plan that incorporates the recommended 3 daily servings of dairy foods for adults.

Fad Diets: Be Careful What You Wish For

Fad diets promising to optimize health, minimize risk of chronic diseases, and lose weight come and go over time. The Paleo diet and the related Whole30® diet are among the latest fads. These popular diets have been the subject of media headlines and endorsed by Hollywood celebrities and Olympic athletes. Followers of these diets believe our modern lifestyles, including nutrition, are the cause of current health problems.

The Paleo diet, also known as the “caveman” or “Stone Age” diet, claims to be based on foods our ancient ancestors ate in the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer period, which ended more than 10,000 years ago. This diet includes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, and fats from plants (e.g., oils from olives, coconut, avocados). It does not allow dairy foods, legumes (including peanuts), grains, processed foods, refined sugar, salt, and refined vegetable oils (canola, peanut, soybean, corn oils). The Whole30 diet®, which is an extreme form of the Paleo diet, eliminates a host of foods (e.g., grains, legumes, dairy, added sugars, alcohol) for 30 days.

Consequences of eliminating entire food groups

While followers of these diets often lose weight, at least in the short-term, they are likely setting themselves up for nutritional deficiencies by eliminating entire food groups such as dairy, grains, and legumes. Such restrictive diets are not consistent with current dietary recommendations including USDA’s MyPlate or the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The U.S. News and World report on best diets of 2015 ranked the Paleo diet in last place out of 35. Similarly, the British Dietetic Association ranked the Paleo diet among the five worst celebrity-endorsed diets to avoid in 2015. It stated the Paleo diet is “an unbalanced, time consuming, socially isolating diet” and, as such, “a sure-fire way to develop nutrient deficiencies.”

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Why it’s important to include dairy foods in the diet

Excluding dairy foods can result in nutrient shortcomings and put your health at risk. Dairy foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt are important sources of multiple essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, which are three of the four nutrients of concern, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. More than half of Americans’ daily intake of calcium and vitamin D and 11 to 28 percent of several other nutrients come from dairy foods. Consumption of milk and other dairy foods is associated with improved bone health, especially in children and teens, reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and lower blood pressure in adults. The British Dietetic Association cautioned that, “by cutting out dairy completely from the diet, without very careful substitution, you could be in danger of compromising your bone health because of a lack of calcium.”

It can be difficult to get the same nutrients affordably without consuming milk and other dairy products. Replacing dairy foods in the diet with calcium-equivalent nondairy foods resulted in decreased intake of several nutrients including protein, vitamins A, D, B12, and riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, according to a study published in Nutrition Research. Increasing Americans’ daily consumption of dairy products to at least the recommended levels (i.e., 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products a day for persons 9 years and older) is considered a practical dietary strategy to improve the population’s adequacy of vitamins and minerals that are currently under-consumed.

Tools to help reach weight goals the healthy way

Nearly one-third (30.7%) of adults in Michigan are obese, making this state the 17th in the nation for the highest rate of obesity, according to a new report. Many adults struggling with their weight follow fad diets without considering the consequences. Not only can fad diets lead to nutrient deficiencies, but often the weight loss is regained because it is difficult to stick to unrealistic, restrictive diets for any length of time. New tools to help  achieve a healthy weight without restricting food groups include:

  • USDA’s Supertracker, an interactive food, physical activity, and weight tracking tool.
  • The National Institutes of Health’s Body Weight Planner, which uses science-based technology to calculate calories and exercise amounts to achieve a weight goal.

The best diets are based on moderation and sound dietary guidelines. To lose weight successfully, it’s important to do so gradually and not follow diets that restrict whole food groups; maintain diet and exercise changes; practice portion control; and make physical activity a regular part of your lifestyle.