Camel milk and the health benefits – one hump or two?

It is fair to say that Australia has no shortage of camels. It is estimated that there are approximately 1 to 1.2 million camels roaming free (or feral depending on your outlook) in the land of Oz. These camels are spread far and wide across an area of around 3.3 million square kilometres of diverse terrain and their numbers are projected to double every 8-9 years.  The mind boggles does it not?

Enter the cameleer. A cameleer is someone who can ride, train and handle camels and that is exactly what a gentlemen by the name of Stephen Geppert is expert in. Whilst in the Australian desert, he noticed how many camels were running wild and aware of the governments culling program to control numbers, Stephen got to thinking about harnessing these mammals for their milk.

This idea was further developed by joining forces with others who had experience within government and the agricultural industries and the Good Earth Dairy in Dandaragan that produces camel milk was born.

I first tried camel milk at the Perth Royal Show a few months ago and I was surprised to discover that I liked it. I may have been persuaded by the cuteness overload of two baby camel’s swaying on their gangly new legs and their l o n g eyelashes but nevertheless, it tasted good.

Camel milk has some impressive nutrition stats.  It contains half the saturated fat of cows milk and is a rich source of protein and calcium.  Good news for those intolerant to the A1 protein in cows milk too  – camel milk contains only the A2 protein. It contains 60% of the lactose in cows milk, making it a viable option for those who are lactose intolerant and the mineral content including zinc, magnesium, manganese and potassium is high too.

Then there is lactoferrin. Various strains of harmful bacteria need iron to reproduce and lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein that limits the availability of iron to bacteria in the gut – allowing the beneficial bacteria survive. Camel milk uniquely contains 10 times the amount of lactoferrin that is found in cows milk.  

There is no doubt that the camel milk industry is in its infancy and with that comes the substantial stresses of a start-up business, which of course includes consumers being aware that it exists.

Aside from the nutritional benefits, I do appreciate innovation and the use of an existing resource that can survive in very tough conditions, minimising the impact on our environment. 

If you would like to listen to my review on air and all the funny jokes that one would expect with a review of camel milk, check it out here. By the way, you can grab this milk at a number of specialty stores around Perth, listed on the Good Earth Dairy website.

What about you – have you tried camel milk yet?

 

 

 

Mood food

When someone in my house is in the grip of a bad mood moment, we nominate them as the ‘Grumpy Fish, so-called after a much-loved children’s book, Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins. It’s almost impossible to keep up a bad mood with that tag following you.

Jokes aside, good mood vs. bad mood is a real thing and many people are really interested in the potential link between good mood and food. Over the last week I have been interviewed on TV and radio on the subject and it seems that most people can identify at least one positive mood food and another that sends them down into the dungeons.

I’ve picked out a few mood foods that may actually perk you up (and your health as a bonus side effect).

Eggs – For many years the humble egg has been given a bad rap on the cholesterol front. The fact is, the egg yolk is home to a healthy mix of poly and monounsaturated fats with only a smidgen of saturated fat and should be an essential part of a healthy diet, even if you have high cholesterol and raised blood lipids. Eggs are also a great source of protein and energy but their secret weapon is the nutrient choline. Choline is vital for the functioning of cells and neurotransmitters thought to be related to mood and energy. Plus having your brain work properly is always a mood enhancer!

Dark chocolate – Many chocolate lovers will agree that there is something about chocolate that quite simply makes you happy! Before we get too carried away in a moment of joy and happiness at this thought, its important to know that the darker varieties are preferred as they contain higher amounts of cocoa and therefore, antioxidants in the form of flavonoids. Chocolate does contain both fat and sugar but a small amount in an otherwise healthy diet, a small amount can be enjoyed, happily.

Coffee – The morning coffee fix is one that you can see played out in cafe’s all over the world and many people feel that it provides them with an energy boost and alertness they simply can’t do without. Yes, we do need to be aware of how much caffeine we consume each day but if your morning ritual improves your mood and your outlook, that can only be a positive. In addition, coffee is rich in antioxidants and has been linked to a decreased risk of dementia.

Milk – My Nan often advised a warm milk before bed for a restful sleep and although this might seem like a bedtime story, it’s actually based on fact. Protein is made up of many different amino acids (a bit like Lego pieces) and one of these, tryptophan, helps in the production of the sleep inducing chemicals, serotonin and melatonin. Milk and other dairy products are rich in tryptophan, hence the milk before bed. I think we all know that more sleep (or even simply enough) is possibly the best mood enhancer ever!

Vitamin D – This vitamin or the lack of it has been linked to being a risk factor for many lifestyle diseases including cancer and heart disease. Vitamin D is not an easy vitamin to get through food and the vast majority for us humans, comes from sunlight. Light deprivation is one reason people feel tired (and grumpy) and just five minutes of sunlight ups the production of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that improve mood. Not only is stepping into the sunlight for a brief moment mood enhancing but it also boosts your Vitamin D stores. Win-win.

 

 

Choc + Milk = Good

choc-milk gang

As a kid I loved choc-milk, so its pretty exciting that it is now championed by science. Sports nutrition research has shown that choc-milk, other favoured milk and just plain milk supplies the nutrition your body needs after exercise.  Just to test its performance, along with my running gang, I have been religiously swilling down a 600ml choc-milk immediately following our long runs in preparation for the New York Marathon, a race we will tackle in just over a week. My recovery has been great and my body is holding up and I know the timing and content of my favourite flavoured milk has helped me hugely. The good news is that studies have shown women who drink 500ml skim milk after training gain more muscle and lose more fat compared to women who drink carbohydrate drinks. There is good news for the men too.  Men who drink the same amount of skim milk after a resistance workout  have been shown to gain 63% more muscle mass than those who drink carbohydrate-based beverages.

Milk and its flavoured counterparts provide you with:

  • Carbohydrates to help refuel muscles and energy stores
  • High quality protein to promote muscle recovery and growth
  • Fluid and electrolytes to help replenish what is lost in sweat

We know that a combination of protein and carbohydrate is best for recovery after exercise and with the exception of cheese, dairy products are a winning combination of both.

Dairy foods providing approximately 10g protein

300ml Milk

300ml Flavoured milk

125ml Evaporated milk

250g Flavoured yoghurt

100g Ricotta cheese

40g Cheddar cheese

250ml Vanilla custard

I very much hope that New York will have a finish line and some choc-milk waiting for me on the 3rd November.

 

 

Permanent or Temporary?

Just this morning with my weekly milk delivery I found a little brochure proclaiming that the milk I was holding had NO PERMEATE ADDED.  I have to confess my ignorance as all that flew into my mind was a visual of sitting at the hairdressers in the 80’s with a big contraption over my head and chemicals causing tears to flow.  Given that I have had one and only one ‘perm’ in my life, with the end result being me resembling a show poodle, even my knowledge of this is shaky.  Surely my milk has not become involved in this too? Significant research later reveals that ‘permeate’ is the term used to describe the milk-sugar (lactose) and minerals part of whole or full-cream milk.  As you would expect, cows milk has regional and seasonal differences resulting in varying levels of fat and protein in the milk collected from farms.  The composition of our milk is governed by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Food Standards Code which is considered to be one of the best in the world.  Basically permeate is produced when milk is passed through a fine sieve (ultrafiltration) to separate the lactose, vitamin and mineral components from milk protein.  From here, dairy manufacturers may adjust these components to make various milks such as low fat, high calcium and no fat to meet consumer demands. Under the same Food Standards Code, these components can be added to or withdrawn from milk to standardise the normal variations in fat and protein.  A similar situation occurs with 100% fruit juice as the sweetness of fruit also varies according to the season and the Code allows the addition of a certain amount of sugar to these products. So, no chemicals, heads in buckets or tears in the eye.  Of course, at the moment there are tears in the eyes of many a dairy farmer for a completely different reason.  The ongoing battle of price.  Any thoughts?