Giving your kids milk won't turn them into giants. But it will give them important micronutrients to help them reach the maximum growth potential that is otherwise determined by their genetic makeup. Your child's bones need calcium to grow. Their bones also need adequate amounts of vitamin D to help them absorb that calcium. Because vitamin fortified milk is a significant source of both calcium and vitamin D, it is critical for kids to get enough milk for normal growth and development. But I realize now that my growth was as much about what I was drinking as it was about what I was not drinking.
Between 1965 and 1996, milk consumption amongst adolescents decreased by 36% and was displaced by a corresponding increase in consumption of soft drinks and fruit juices. I discussed the harms of sugary beverages in the following post:
Indeed, one study showed that sweetened beverage and not milk intake predicted unhealthy weight gain amongst five year old children. In that study, children who drank two or more servings of sweetened beverages per day had a higher percentage body fat, belly fat, and weight status over the following decade. Habitual consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in not only hazardous to the health of children, but it effectively stunts their growth because it displaces milk drinking. On the flip side, replacing habitual consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages with milk has been associated with increases in muscle mass and height.
However, one concern with milk is that it contains saturated fat. As discussed in the previous post, saturated fat is considered a bad fat, which is why I recommend cutting out unnecessary saturated fat. http://www.doctorchrisko.blogspot.com/2013/07/cooking-for-your-kids-you-take-good-and.html
The operative word here is unnecessary. Some dietary fat is necessary for the adequate absorption of vitamin D, which is a fat soluble vitamin. In order to give your children some necessary fat, but also avoid excessive fat intake, parents can consider giving their growing kids reduced fat milk (1% or 2%) starting between the ages of one and two, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
How much milk is enough to support the growing bones of children? One study found that amongst healthy children two to five years of age, two cups of cow’s milk per day was sufficient to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. One notable exception was that children with darker skin pigmentation required three to four cups of cow’s milk per day during the winter months to maintain healthy vitamin D levels because such children do not otherwise manufacture enough vitamin D from sun exposure.
In addition to drinking milk as a beverage, another common source of saturated milk fat is heavy cream like that found in ice cream. Everyone likes ice cream...well with the exception of my dad. I decided to make a healthier ice cream which incorporates all three of my principles for managing fat intake: eating essential fats, cutting down on saturated fats, and substituting good fats for bad fats.
So, I put in the arduous, pain-staking hours in the kitchen experimenting with different fats, different levels of cream, taste testing, and then taste testing again until I was satisfied with a decent tasting but reduced fat ice cream. Its tough work, but that's the level of dedication you get from Doctor ChrisKo. Ultimately, I found that avocados were an ideal ingredient to reduce saturated fat, provide a smooth texture, and still enable peppermint to be the predominant flavor. Even better, my son Colin absolutely loves avocados, which he refers to as "cados". Please enjoy the following video highlighting this work:
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Reduced Fat Mint Ice Cream (Cados and Cream)Ingredients
- 1.5 ripe avocados, peel and pit discarded
- 2 cups plain low fat yogurt
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract
- pinch of salt
- Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth
- Transfer blended mixture to an airtight container, freeze, and stir every half hour for 2-3 hours (For a creamier texture, invest in an ice cream maker)
Cavadini C et al. US adolescent food intake trends from 1965 to 1996. Arch Dis Child 2000;173:378-383.
Keller KL et al. Increased sweetened beverage intake is associated with reduced milk and calcium intake in 3-7 y. old children at multi-item laboratory lunches. J Am diet Assoc 2009;109:497-501.
Fiorito LM et al. Beverage intake of girls at age 5 y predicts adiposity and weight status in childhood and adolescence. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;90:935-42.
Albala C et al. Effects of replacing the habitual consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages with milk in Chilean children. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;88(3):605-11.
Daniels SR et al. Lipid Screening and Cardiovascular Health in Childhood. Pediatrics. 2008;122:198-208.
Maguire et al. The Relationship Between Cow’s Milk and Stores of Vitamin D and Iron in Early Childhood. Pediatrics 2013; 131:1 e144-e151.
Ludwig DS & Willett WC. Three Daily Servings of Reduced-Fat Milk: An Evidence-Based Reccomendation? JamaPediatrics; 2013.