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As the Six Nations gets underway this weekend, The Dairy Council has said that sportsmen and women are choosing to drink more milk, in line with research suggesting milk aids recovery and hydration post-exercise.

Earlier this week, England rugby player Joe Marler claimed that milk played a key part in the recovery of his broken leg. By drinking milk every day during his recovery, Joe believes that milk was important to the speed in which he recovered.

Research suggests that milk is ‘nature’s sports drink’, and has benefits in muscle recovery and hydration after exercise. Studies show that milk can be just as effective as commercially available sports drinks when it comes to helping athletes recover from sport.

Dr Anne Mullen, Director of Nutrition at The Dairy Council, said: “Milk is a nutritious food and contains nutrients which aid muscle recovery and hydration after exercising. One of the most important times for a sportsman or sportswoman is the post-exercise period where there is a window of opportunity for nutrition to make a difference.

“We’re delighted that rugby player Joe Marler will be fit and healthy to play in the Six Nations after breaking his leg at the start of the year. Together with all of his rehabilitation, Joe believes that milk also played a key role in his recovery and we’re delighted that he has said he will continue to drink milk now that he has reaped its nutritional benefits.

“Milk provides an array of nutrients such as protein, calcium, iodine, B vitamins and phosphorus – all of which are important for a healthy balanced diet and are beneficial after sport. Protein helps and calcium is essential in maintenance of healthy muscles and bones. Milk is a natural, tasty and affordable way to help your body get all the nutrients it needs after exercising – and it is important to remember that whole milk is not a ‘high fat’ food.

“Research suggests that the balance of protein and carbohydrate is exactly what muscles need to recover, and therefore milk is a great addition to the diet.

“The Dairy Council will be watching the Six Nations with great interest and we’ll be raising a few glasses of the white stuff in celebration.”