And it’s true! Milk and other dairy products continue to be controversial these days. Many believe dairy is essential for “bone health,” while other experts disagree and think that dairy is harmful and should be avoided.
The famous “got milk” ad campaign was initiated by the dairy industry promoting all the benefits of milk. The campaign has since been retired, but for many years drinking a large glass of cold whole milk was considered one of the healthiest things you could do. (Are you old enough to remember your mother always telling you to ‘drink your milk’?)
So, after years of promoting milk and dairy products… it turns out for many people… milk and dairy products were ‘not their friend.’ I’m sure you’ve heard of “lactose intolerance” It’s common among many populations, and includes gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea, and flatulence, and occurs when individuals do not have the enzyme lactase to digest the milk sugar lactose. When digested, the breakdown products of lactose are two simple sugars: glucose and galactose. Due to the common nature of this condition, and in order to avoid these uncomfortable side effects, milk consumption is not recommended.
And there’s more…
A common argument against dairy products is that it is “unnatural” to consume them. After all, humans are the only species that consume milk in adulthood, and the only one that consume milk from another animal. Cow’s milk is for a growing calf. Humans aren’t calves… and adults don’t need to grow.
Nevertheless, many of us (including some vegetarians) consume substantial amounts of dairy products, “despite scientific evidence that questions their health benefits and indicates their potential health risks” (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). “When it comes to bone health, the calcium in milk is important BUT the actual benefits of calcium intake do not exist after consumption passes a certain threshold. Clinical research also shows that dairy products have little or no benefits for bones.” (http://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/health/Nutrition-Fact-Sheets/Protecting-Your-Bones.pdf.) Milk was also considered to be the best way to get calcium, but for years we have known that plant food (kale, broccoli, beans, etc.) can provide what we need.
There are a host of other health concerns associated milk and dairy products (includes butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, gelato, etc.).
- Milk proteins, milk sugar, fat, and saturated fat in dairy products pose health risks for children and encourage the development of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Milk contains contaminants that range from hormones to pesticides. Milk naturally contains hormones and growth factors produced within a cow’s body.
- Consumption of dairy products has also been linked to higher risk for various cancers, especially to cancers of the reproductive system. Most significantly, dairy product consumption has been linked to increased risk for and breast cancers.
If you are a big cheese and milk drinker, consider the benefits of going “dairy-free”. You may also be a person who doesn’t experience much discomfort when eating dairy, but just give it a try and see how it makes you feel.
Check out Dr Axe’s 7 Benefits of a Dairy-Free Diet.
BRAGGING OPPORTUNITY – My daughter just gave birth to a happy healthy baby boy (cutest baby ever, but then again, I’m just a little bit biased as the grandmother!). She was breastfeeding and the little bundle of joy was experiencing lots of distress after eating. She forced herself to give the dairy-free thing a try, even though she LOVES her cheese. No need to go into all of the details here, but ironically, she felt a lot better after just 5 days. It really surprised her!
Now, I certainly don’t want you to feel deprived so if you decide to give it a whirl, consider these alternatives –
- Coconut milk – Good source of nutrients like manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and potassium.
- Almond milk – My favorite! It contains probiotic components that help with digestion.
- More leafy greens – Enough said!
Note: There are also a host of new dairy-free products out there but many are highly processed and full of added sugar. Beware!
For more information –
“Got Milk” Slogan from: www.onegreenplanet.org