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DAIRY: POISON OR POTION?

In a society and age where everyone has become a nutrition guru, it’s best to always look out for and rely on strong science based articles which debunk so many pseudoscience on the internet. 

IS DAIRY REALLY THE VILLAIN? 

In a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Walter Willet and some other colleagues stated thus : “A central rationale for high lifelong milk consumption has been to meet calcium requirements for bone health. Paradoxically, countries with the highest intakes of milk and calcium tend to have the highest rates of hip fractures”

Really, this is a ‘fallacious argument’- very deceptive arguments that seem convincing but lack scientific rigor. Possible truths may be found in the paper, but is there an identification of limitations? Research is not carried out based on personal bias but on neutral grounds right?

Let’s look at some potholes in this paper shall we? 

SHAKY EVIDENCE 

The paper clearly starts out by stating that there has not been any health benefits related with the HIGH intake of milk products. Well, i would like to ask this: What’s your explanation of high intake? 1 litre of milk? A  bucket of milk? Per sitting? Per month? Just state it.

We can’t deny the fact that before this new age of funny health shaky-umentaries,  there has been so much research to prove that consumption of milk and its product are beneficial to health. 

The paper even goes along to suggest that consumption of milk is related to the incidence of bone fracture through correlative data. Are you kidding me now? So many meta-analyses confirm that foods high in calcium, protein and vitamin D (especially dairy) are preventative for good bone health.

 There are obviously other sources of calcium, protein and vitamin D that are healthy and beneficial, but demonising  a particular food group just to push the vegan agenda doesn’t alright. 

Before stating the correlation of a data, so many things like vitamin D status, genetics, longevity, exercise, environmental factors, or overall diet quality should be considered – because a lot more goes into building strong bones than simply calcium.

“Aside from bone fracture risk, the authors also look at how dairy consumption links to cardiovascular disease. They state that milk is beneficial to the heart when being used as a substitute for sugary beverages (like pop or juice) and then state that milk isn’t beneficial if it replaces whole fruit, nuts, and legumes in the diet” My question is – Why do you think milk is replacing those other foods? What do you term an adequate diet?

Isn’t it one that has all food groups in right proportions and quantities?

IS THERE A ROOM FOR DAIRY INTOLERANCE?

Dairy has never posed any health problems as claimed by everyone on the internet, but really, there are some individuals that won’t be able to tolerate dairy products.

Many people are lactose intolerant (carbohydrates found in dairy) and have serious digestive problems when they consume dairy products. So it’s best they eliminate dairy products from their diets so they won’t have complications.

Some folks are also allergic to cows milk which could lead to hives, skin rash and anaphylaxis. But hey, these people are not the ALL people yes?

Dr Willet also stated that 67% of children with diagnosed intolerance to cow’s milk had reduced symptoms immediately they were switched to an alternative- soy milk (plant based). OH YES! They sure will since they were given an alternative to cow’s milk which don’t contain lactose. But really, the agenda was to kick against the consumption of cow’s milk.

If you feel better and don’t get digestive problems when you eliminate milk from your diet, no problems. But doing it out of fear? We dietitians won’t support that.

MILK AND MUCUS PRODUCTION 

The texture of any fluid determines the texture and amount of mucus produced after consumption of said fluid. 

Mucus is produced by cells within the nose, sinuses and lungs.  It consists of water, salt and various proteins that help trap germs and particles of dirt.

“There is a belief among some members of the public that the consumption of milk and dairy products increases the production of mucus in the respiratory system. Therefore, some who believe in this effect renounce drinking milk. According to Australian studies, subjects perceived some parameters of mucus production to change after consumption of milk and soy-based beverages, but these effects were not specific to cows’ milk because the soy-based milk drink with similar sensory characteristics produced the same changes. In individuals inoculated with the common cold virus, milk intake was not associated with increased nasal secretions, symptoms of cough, nose symptoms or congestion. Nevertheless, individuals who believe in the mucus and milk theory report more respiratory symptoms after drinking milk. In some types of alternative medicine, people with bronchial asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the lower respiratory tract, are advised not to eat so-called mucus-forming foods, especially all kinds of dairy products. According to different investigations the consumption of milk does not seem to exacerbate the symptoms of asthma and a relationship between milk consumption and the occurrence of asthma cannot be established. However, there are a few cases documented in which people with a cow’s milk allergy presented with asthma-like symptoms”. 

That being stated, lets focus on the benefits of dairy products 

BENEFITS OF DAIRY PRODUCTS 

Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese, are good sources of calcium, vitamin D and protein which helps maintain bone density and reduces the risk of fractures. Adults up to age 50 need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Women older than 50 and men older than 70 need 1,200 mg. (For comparison, a cup of milk has 250 mg to 350 mg of calcium, depending on the brand and whether it’s whole, low-fat, or nonfat. A typical serving of yogurt (plain) has about 187 mg of calcium.) Milk is also fortified with vitamin D, which bones need to maintain bone mass.

WHICH DAIRY IS PREFERRABLE?

The American Heart Association still recommends adults stick to fat-free or low-fat dairy products. But new research suggests full-fat dairy might not be much of a threat to heart health. A report presented at the 2018 Congress of the European Society of Cardiology looked at 20 studies involving almost 25,000 people, and found no association between the consumption of most dairy products and cardiovascular disease.

Some science has even suggested that the right kind of dairy may prevent heart disease. A study involving 2,000 men published by the British Journal of Nutrition found that those who ate plenty of fermented dairy products like yogurt and cheese had a smaller risk of coronary artery disease than men who ate less of these products. This supports earlier studies that showed that fermented dairy products have more healthful effects on blood lipid profiles and the risk of heart disease than other dairy products.

 

BOTTOM LINE 

On the issues of overall health benefits, dairy products {especially milk) are neither poison or potion. The right quantity added to your daily diet is important in benefiting from vital nutrients for every day activities and function. 

 An adequate diet cannot be over emphasized; elimination or demonising food groups won’t solve any problems.

 

SOURCES: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/dairy-health-food-or-health-risk-2019012515849

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1903547

https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-other-adverse-reactions/milk-mucus-and-cough

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16373954

https://ignitenutrition.ca/blog/is-dairy-deadly/?utm_campaign=meetedgar&utm_medium=social&utm_source=meetedgar.com

 

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