Dairy in your diet


We highlight the nutritional challenges associated with ageing and why having dairy is important when growing older

With ageing, your metabolism may slow. This means the body is not as efficient at converting food to energy or absorbing nutrients from food as it used to be. Many elderly people also struggle to maintain a good appetite or experience dental problems that make chewing and eating difficult.

Not getting enough energy and nutrients from food can lead to low energy levels and muscle weakness. This, in turn, can affect a person’s balance, posture and strength, increasing the risk of falls and fractures or having to depend on others for help.

Between the ages of 40 and 80 years, muscle mass may drop by 30 to 50 per cent. The rate of this decline depends partly on how active you are and the amount and quality of the protein you consume. Exercising regularly and including enough protein in your diet can help slow the process of losing muscle mass and strength associated with ageing.

Choose DAIRY to help prevent muscle loss

Dairy products are good sources of protein. Milk, amasi, yoghurt and cheese not only contain good-quality protein but also other nutrients that are essential for maintaining muscle and bone health. Milk and dairy supply all the essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein – that the body needs, together with the minerals calcium and potassium, which support muscle function. Dairy products are also a great choice for people who prefer to have smaller more frequent meals, or those who struggle to chew or do not want to spend much time preparing meals.

How to include dairy in your diet

  • Use milk instead of water to cook porridge e.g. oats.
  • Add grated cheese to scrambled eggs or have a cheese omelette with toast.
  • Make a smoothie by blending double-cream yoghurt, fresh fruit and oats together.
  • Eat a small tub of yoghurt as a mid-morning or late-night snack.
  • Enjoy a glass of cold milk or a cup of warm milk with cinnamon and honey.
  • Prepare a milky coffee or enjoy hot chocolate as a comfort drink.
  • Treat yourself to a cheese sandwich or have it on toast with avocado and egg.
  • Macaroni and cheese is always a favourite. You can also add cheese to white sauce to have with broccoli or cauliflower.
  • Stir some grated cheese into soup or sprinkle it over pasta or cottage pie.
  • Make a home-made custard as a treat


Dairy products are convenient, versatile and delicious – a great way to help you achieve a balanced, nutrient-rich diet and stay healthy and strong. They provide many important nutrients that are important for anything from our brains and bones to our muscles and immune system. It is convenient, versatile and taste good! Try to have two to three servings of dairy every day to keep you going no matter your age.

For more information, visit www.rediscoverdairy.co.za  or follow rediscoverDAIRY on Facebook.

An initiative by the Consumer Education Project of Milk SA