Q: "My children are constantly snuffly. Does dairy accentuate their phlegm? Is it true that yoghurt is all right, but milk and cheese can be a problem? If you do cut down on your kids’ dairy intake, what are some easy calcium replacement sources?"
H. Martin (Balgowlah, NSW)
A: The ‘milk makes mucus’ myth has been doing the rounds for a long time, but that’s really all it is – a myth. Milk gets a bad rap because it temporarily coats your mouth and tongue, giving the impression that you have more mucus or phlegm than you actually do, whereas yoghurt and cheese don’t have this effect.
Dairy foods are not only an excellent source of the mineral calcium, which is important for children’s bones and teeth, but they also contain protein, phosphorus, magnesium, riboflavin and vitamin B12. It’s this unique combination of nutrients that makes it difficult to replace it with another food.
Child-friendly non-dairy alternatives that contain calcium include calcium-fortified soy beverages, juices, breakfast cereals, baked beans and oats. Other foods include tinned salmon and sardines (with their bones), almonds, spinach and tahini (sesame seed paste).