It’s Never Too Late For a “New You” dietitian & TV personality Paula Mee, speaking at health and well being evening in Semple stadium’s dome, Thurles.

“It’s never too late for a ‘new you’ resolution,” according to independent dietitian & TV personality Paula Mee. She was speaking in Semple Stadium’s Dome in Thurles on Thursday (2nd Feburary 2012) at a Health & Wellbeing Evening organised by The National Dairy Council & Thurles Fresh Milk.

“The nutrient quality of what we eat and what we drink does affect everybody’s health and wellbeing, so if we don’t think about it, we are putting our heads in the sand and ignoring something very important,” said Paula Mee.

“But being healthy doesn’t mean eating ‘horrible food’ and it doesn’t have to take a huge effort or spending lots of extra money. For most of us, making just a few small changes to our diet could make a really big difference to our health now, as well as in the future when we age.”

Paula Mee quoted the example of bone health. She said that many people believe Osteoporosis is a disease which “only affects people who are older” – or “only affects ladies” – but this is not the case. Anybody can get Osteoporosis. It can affect people of all age groups, male or female.

For many people, they don’t realise they are developing Osteoporosis until they fracture or break a bone; or start noticing symptoms like undiagnosed, sudden, severe pain in the upper, middle or low back, especially if it is associated with loss of height. However, Paula Mee explained that for most people, Osteoporosis could be prevented or treated.

OUR BONES: THE SCAFFOLDING OF OUR BODY

Describing the bones as the “scaffolding for our body,” Paula Mee said that bone health is largely influenced by factors like genetics, gender and race – but that diet and lifestyle choices also play an important role in bone health.

“National surveys show that a considerable proportion of Irish people in different age groups – children, teenagers and adults – have insufficient calcium as part of their regular diets. Calcium is needed for the growth and development of bone in children, and for the maintenance of our bones,” said Paula Mee.


Paula Mee recommended consuming milk & dairy as part of a varied, balanced diet. She explained that this food group provides us with calcium in a “bioavailable” form, which is a form that our bodies can easily absorb. Paula Mee explained that some plant sources may have calcium – but many also contain components such as oxalates and phytates which inhibit the absorption of calcium. This can make it very difficult to meet daily calcium requirements exclusively from these plant foods alone.

YOU ARE IN CONTROL

“Modifiable factors such as diet and lifestyle are within our control. Every time we decide what to eat or drink we make a choice, so we are in control of deciding whether we try to have balance, variety and moderation in our food and drink choices,” said Paula Mee.

MANAGING WEIGHT

“Unfortunately, many people who are trying to lose weight, or maintain their weight, often avoid milk and dairy products because they incorrectly assume that dairy products are fattening,” said Paula Mee. “In fact, milk and dairy should be part of our diet, even when we are trying to control or lose weight.”

“A person ‘watching their weight’ may wish to reduce their energy intake, but the nutritional quality of their diet remains important. They still need to consume adequate levels of essential vitamins and minerals, so the recommended intake of food from the dairy shelf of the ‘Food Pyramid’ is still very important,” said Paula Mee.

Paula Mee also pointed to scientific evidence suggesting that consumption of calcium, particularly calcium from dairy products, may play a positive role in weight management. (Ref 1). In addition, the Report of the National Taskforce on Obesity refers to the fact that people who meet the food pyramid recommendations for the “Milk Cheese and Yogurt shelf” are less likely to be obese. (Ref 2) Paula Mee highlights that the introduction of an array of low-fat dairy products to the market also means increased consumer choice is there for those watching their weight.

“Diet and food choices really can have a big impact on how we feel and on our health and quality of life, so where advice is needed, it is important that it is from a genuinely credible source – from a qualified dietitian, nutritionist or medical professional,” said Paula Mee.

THE RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCES (RDA) FOR CALCIUM

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium for adults and children is 800mg/d; with a higher level of 1,200mg/day recommended for teenagers (11-17 yrs) and women who are pregnant (second half of pregnancy) or breastfeeding (first six months). To convert that into practical terms the Department of Health’s Food Pyramid recommends “three portions of dairy per day” (Refs 3 & 4). In order to meet the increased requirements associated with the teenage years, people during this life-stage should aim for “five servings of dairy per day”.

According to Paula Mee, this should not be difficult to include in a balanced diet – a serving is 1oz or 28g of hard cheese (about the size of a matchbox); 1/3 of a pint glass of milk; or one carton of yogurt.

NATURAL & AFFORDABLE PACKAGE OF NUTRIENTS

“Milk and dairy products have a natural nutritional package. For example, one serving of milk provides a source of protein, B vitamins (riboflavin, vitamin B12) phosphorus – as well as calcium – making milk and dairy quite an affordable source of good nutrition,” said Paula Mee.

Paula Mee was speaking in Thurles at the Health & Wellbeing evening organised by The National Dairy Council & Thurles Fresh Milk. The event at Semple Stadium’s Dome included advice on mental wellbeing from Counsellor & Wellbeing Coach Fiona Hoban; and a culinary demonstration by Ailish Maher Hennessy from Fiacrί Country House Restaurant & Cookery School. Fran Curry from Tipp FM was master of ceremonies. The evening also raised funds towards the Friends of the Community Hospital of the Assumption, Thurles.

FREE INFORMATION GUIDES

The National Dairy Council nutritional team has produced free information guides on subjects including ‘Understanding Osteoporosis’, ‘A Guide to Healthy Eating’ and ‘A Guide to Weight Loss’. These are available free of charge as downloads from the NDC web site www.ndc.ie “publications”. You can follow the NDC on twitter @NDC_ie and @ObeyYourBodyIRL and find Obey Your Body on Facebook.

For The National Dairy Council:

Antonina Ni Dhuinn, Progress Communications – 01-276 6117 Email: nina [AT] progresspr.ie

For Thurles Fresh Milk:

John Martin Tel: 087-2462218. Email: jmartin@centenarythurles.com

Sources of information include:

1) Astrup A et al. Dairy beverages and energy balance. Physiology & Behavior 2010; 100:67-75

2). The Report of the National Taskforce on Obesity, Published 2005, Department of Health and Children http://www.dohc.ie/publications/report_taskforce_on_obesity.html

3). FSAI Recommend Dietary Allowances for Ireland 1999 http://www.fsai.ie/assets/0/86/204/fb3f2891-2896-4bf9-903f-938f3c2ad01f.pdf

4). Department of Health. The Food Pyramid 2005


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