The Truth About Milk
Lot of controversies has been around the milk consumption.
Most of its opponents have been accusing the milk for promoting fat gain, osteoporosis, diabetes and various types of cancers.
Milk is so often accused to be a poison, containing the added hormones and antibiotics and everyone who cares about his health is advised to stay away from milk.
Sounds scary isn’t it?
We did our research to see if there is any truth behind the all those anti–milk claims.
The single cause misconception
As we said in one of our previous articles about sugar, most of the medical conditions have multi-factorial causes, which means that you can’t selectively pick any single food group claiming to be the root of all evil of the modern civilization without taking into the account the other factors like stress, lack of physical activity, smoking, genetics etc.
In general food by them self are fairly neutral, it’s their lack of moderation in the diet that can make them unhealthy and potentially dangerous.
Lets look at the most common anti-milk claims one by one:
1. Milk Consumption Can Lead To Osteoporosis
The claim that milk is connected to osteoporosis came out from the observational research that was looking at the correlation between the milk intake and osteoporosis levels.
They conclude that:
The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.
As much is it good for making association the correlational research cannot establish the direct cause and effect because of plenty other uncontrolled variables that can influence the results.
As we previously said, the osteoporosis is a multifactorial condition that depends from multiple factors like getting regular exercise, adequate vitamin, exposure to sunshine, consuming enough calcium, consuming adequate vitamin K etc.
So you can’t just say that the milk is responsible for increased osteoporosis rate without taking into the account the other factors that can have their share of influence as well.
This is why we need to look into the experimental research examining effect of milk on bone health because only in experimental conditions we can control all variables that can influence the study outcome.
And guess what, almost 100% of experimental research show positive effect of milk intake on bone health.
The milk is apart from calcium composed of high quality proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.
What the research actually show is that there is a strong synergistic effect between the calcium and protein to support the optimal bone building and prevent the excessive bone loss.
What the research says is that when protein and calcium are both present in the diet they work synergistically to build and maintain bone.
2. Drinking Milk Can Lead To Weight Gain
This one we get a lot from our clients who are afraid that drinking milk will somehow make them fat. As we said earlier,
no food in isolation can make you gain excessive weight
For a single food to be responsible for someone’s fat gain it needs to be the only food in someone’s diet and to be eaten in amounts that are exceeding the total daily caloric needs of the individual.
Let take like an example a male person that weight 70 kg.
Let say that amount of calories he needs to maintain that weight is around 2300 calories.
So for that person to gain excess fat only by drinking milk he needs to drink more than 7 litres of low fat milk per day.
So if you are 70kg and if you are drinking more than 7 liters of milk per day, than yes, you can gain fat from milk.
For every other normal situation it is the overall diet we need to look at, not at the single food in isolation.
3. Human Beings Are The Only Animal That Consumes Dairy After Weaning. We Are Also The Only Animal That Consumes Dairy From Another Species Than Our Own.
Although it is true that humans are the only specie that drink another species milk, that fact by itself doesn’t prove that milk has any negative consequences on human health.
The world renowned nutritionist Alan Aragon sums this issue very nicely and we will conclude this part with his quote:
“I love it when I hear folks say that human adults weren’t meant to consume milk, much less the milk derived from a different animal species. Are you kidding me? So who gets to decide which parts of the cow we should consume? Let me get this straight–we can eat the cow’s muscles, but not the milk that laid the foundation for the growth of those same muscles? The logic is just too rock-solid for me”
4. People Didn’t Evolved To Digest Lactose So The Milk Should Be Completely Avoided
And while it is true that certain population with historically low dairy intake have higher levels of lactose intolerance, certain population will not have the same problems.
People of African, Asian and Hispanic descent have the highest prevalence of lactose intolerance, whereas Northern Europeans have fewer instances.
In general The National Institute of Health estimates a whopping 65% of humans have trouble with processing dairy.
It needs to be said that lactose intolerance is more of a continuum rather than absolute condition.
For a people who are extremely lactose intolerant even few sips of milk can cause a stomach problems.
For most of the people it takes around 12 grams of lactose to develop the symptoms.
This will translate into around 250 ml of milk.
At the total opposite of a spectrum you have people who can without any problems handle even much higher levels of lactose in one sitting.
So saying that everyone should avoid the milk because some people are lactose intolerant doesn’t make too much sense after all.
If you are lactose intolerant but you really love drinking milk, you can always have the lactose free version or you can take the lactaid pills.
The pills contain the enzyme lactase, the one that lactose intolerant people cannot produce so it can help you breaking down the lactose making the digestion much easier and milk drinking much more enjoyable.
5. Milk Contains Hormones That Are Harmful For Human Health
Whenever they hear the words hormones and food in the same sentence people always get reasonably scared.
Let us see what is the whole story with hormones and milk:
In 1993 the FDA approved use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in cattle which has shown to increase milk production in cows by 10-15 %.
The biggest problem was because use of rBGH increases the levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a hormone that’s been linked to cancer.
It is no wonder why people got scared.
In the milk that we are drinking there are increased levels of hormones strongly linked to cancer.
But hold on for a second. The story doesn’t ends here.
The issue with this type of hormones is that unlike the steroid hormones which can be taken orally rBGH and IGF must be injected to have any effect. That’s because the process of digestion destroys these “protein” hormones. So drinking milk from hormone-treated cows doesn’t transfer the active form of these chemicals to your body.
The hormones actually cannot pass the process of digestion to be in its original form once they are inside of the body to have any negative effects on human health
But if that still doesn’t calm you down you can always buy hormone free milk which is now available in commercial use.
WHAT ARE SOME MILK BENEFITS:
1. Milk is a nutritional powerhouse
With each glass of milk you get nine essential nutrients, including:
– Natural high-quality protein to help build and maintain lean muscle
– B vitamins (Riboflavin, B-12 and niacin) for energy
– Vitamin A for a healthy immune system
– Potassium to help regulate the balance of fluids in your body
– Bone-building nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus
2. Milk is a great muscle builder.
The protein in milk is 20% Whey and 80% Casein.
The both proteins are highest possible quality and represent the perfect combination between the slow and fast digesting protein which is ideal for muscle building purposes.
And if your main goal is to build muscle than choosing the whole milk over skimmed would be a better choice.
The research show that full fat milk improved muscle building 2.8 times more than a skimmed milk did in a study that was conducted at University of Texas.
On the other hand if your goal is a fat loss, than a lower fat option might be good for you making you save more calories.
3. Milk is a great post workout recovery drink
Did you know that milk can be perfect post workout recovery drink as well?
Extensive review published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that milk is more effective in promoting re-hydration, overall recovery and muscle building after both endurance and strength based physical activities than most commercially available sports drinks.
To quote the authors directly:
“There has been growing interest in the potential use of bovine milk as an exercise beverage, especially during recovery from resistance training and endurance sports. Milk has been shown to be as effective, if not more effective, than commercially available sports drinks as a rehydration beverage. Milk represents a more nutrient dense beverage choice for individuals who partake in strength and endurance activities, compared to traditional sports drinks”
Milos Rankovic, personal trainer