April 26 2019 02:50 PM

New health research shows that a poor diet is associated with 11 million deaths per year.

In the chaos that is health and diet advice, it’s always good to be considered good, and fortunately, dairy products are often considered healthy for the body. However, throughout human history, various dairy products have spent time on both sides of the proverbial health fence.

Take butter, for example, which spent many years being vilified for its fat content. Today, it’s well-received as part of a healthy diet. The long and short is that we should continually promote ways that dairy products can be and are a part of our healthy diets.

A recent study from the University of Washington hit this point home for me. The researchers tracked trends in consumption of 15 parts of the diet over the course of 27 years. They looked at individuals in 195 countries to see which dietary elements were linked with health and which were not.

The study’s author Ashkan Afshin, an assistant professor of health metrics sciences at the university, explained that the greatest risk of deaths globally is linked to the correlation of high intakes of unhealthy foods and low intakes of healthy foods.

The author described this correlation as poor dietary habits. Those poor habits were linked with one in five deaths worldwide from 1990 to 2017.

Interestingly, the researchers associated more deaths with not eating enough healthy foods rather than eating too many unhealthy ones. “While historically the conversation around diet and nutrition has been focused on a high intake of unhealthy foods — mainly salt, sugar, and fats and reducing their consumption — our study shows that in many countries, the main problem is low intake of healthy foods,” Afshin said.

Those healthy foods identified by the study included milk, calcium, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, fiber, seafood omega-3 fatty acids, and poly-unsaturated fats.

It’s good to be considered good, and in the height of defending dairy’s honor, remember that the ground you stand on is good ground. The products we, as dairy farmers, work so hard to produce is an important part of healthy diets.

Maggie Seiler

The author is an associate editor. She covers feeding and nutrition, youth activities, and heads up the World Dairy Expo Supplement. Maggie was raised on a 150-cow dairy near Valley Center, Kansas, and graduated from Kansas State University with degrees in agricultural communications and animal sciences.