The impacts of milk on your health, what research supports them, and how to determine whether milk is genuinely beneficial to your health are discussed here.

The adage \”Milk, it does a body good\” used to be true if you were old enough.

However, milk lost its appeal somewhere between The Dairy Farmers of America\’s marketing strategies, the trend towards organic products, and people\’s dislike of all processed foods. One of the earliest \”superfoods\” was formerly a part of every meal, but versions made from oats, almonds, cashews, and peas have taken its place.

But the question still stands: is milk healthy for the body, or should you limit or avoid it?

The dread of dairy milk, or any \”natural\” food, should, in theory, be kept to a minimum. \”Any kind of natural food is not inherently bad; it\’s eating patterns that can contribute to disease,\” asserts Robin Foroutan, RDN, an integrative dietician at the Morrison Centre in New York City and a representative of the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

In other words, there is little evidence to support the notion that a single entire food will have a negative impact on your diet. Dairy milk is not harmful. In fact, one of the foods with the highest nutrient density is milk. Milk isn\’t for everyone, either, though. And that\’s where the solution materialises.

Here\’s what you need to know about milk\’s advantages, dairy\’s risks, and who would be better off cutting back or giving up dairy if you\’re trying to decide whether dairy milk can be a part of your healthy nutrition plan, whether it\’s in your coffee, cereal, or just a cold glass to enjoy.

The Benefits of Dairy Milk

How did a cuisine that was once thought to be wholesome by everyone come under so much scrutiny? In spite of the fact that dairy consumption has increased due to items like cheese and yoghurt, milk consumption has actually fallen by around 40% since 1975. The fear of allergies or lactose sensitivity is the main cause, as we\’ll describe. Then there are those who are afraid of cow hormones. (Here is more information on both of these issues.

A review of the bulk of studies (including observational studies and random controlled trials) on dairy milk was released back in 2016. You may question why people would avoid milk given the following general scientific conclusions:

It has been demonstrated that consuming dairy products helps adults lose weight when their energy intake is restricted and improves their body composition. A neutral or lowered risk of type 2 diabetes and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, notably stroke, were also linked to consumption of milk and dairy products. Additionally, the research indicated that milk and dairy consumption had a positive impact on bone mineral density but had no association with the risk of bone fracture. Consumption of milk and dairy products was found to be negatively linked with the incidence of colorectal, bladder, stomach, and breast cancers among malignancies. However, there was conflicting data about the risk of lung, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer.

Again, this does not imply that you must drink milk, but it does imply that there are many advantages to doing so. There is no denying that cow\’s milk is rich in the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

According to Vasanti Malik, PhD, a research scientist in the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, \”milk is a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D, which are \’nutrients of concern\’ in the U.S. population,\” meaning that many people don\’t receive enough of them. \”In addition to other minerals and nutrients, it also contains magnesium.\”

According to Ali Webster, PhD, RD, Associate Director of Nutrition Communications for the International Food Information Council Foundation, \”If you don\’t consume dairy, it\’s really hard to get enough calcium,\” which is essential for healthy bones. Milk also contains potassium, which is good for bones, and vitamin D.

Webster acknowledges that milk alone cannot prevent osteoporosis. You also need vitamin K, which is found in leafy greens, fish, meat, and eggs, and magnesium, which is found in milk but isn\’t a great source of. Vitamin K does help you check off a lot of these boxes at once.

However, milk is not the only food source of nutrients that support bone health. For instance, a cup of spinach contains 350 mg of calcium, which is slightly more than a cup of milk\’s 300 mg. It also contains fiber and folate. A 6-oz container of salmon with bones gives 380 mg of calcium, in addition to heart-sound omega-3 unsaturated fats.

The health benefits of milk go beyond that. Given the amount of protein it contains, milk is one of the best foods for building muscle. As a matter of fact, it\’s the premise of both whey protein and casein protein. Each of the powders in the protein shakes you\’re drinking started out as milk.

How Much Milk Should You Drink?

Malik advises one serving per day as a reasonable starting point if you decide to eat dairy. The CEO of The Better Nutrition Programme, Ashley Koff, RDN, concurs. She advises her clients who choose to consume dairy to \”accessorise\” their meals with it, such as by adding a slice of cheese to a sandwich or a splash of milk to coffee.

 

You might be surprised by that given the USDA\’s recommendation of three servings per day. However, Koff, Malik, and Foroutan argue that this number need not be the end result. Instead, consider milk as a source of nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals that you might not otherwise get. Only youngsters and the elderly might require that much dairy because they have a tendency to be finicky eaters and might not otherwise obtain the nutrients they require.

What Happens When You Consume Too Much Dairy

First off, if you have allergies, be prepared for excruciating suffering. You shouldn\’t consume dairy products if your body cannot process them, particularly lactose.

The majority of specialists agree that drinking milk is acceptable and possibly even healthful as long as you do it in moderation and assume you don\’t have an allergy to it.

The biggest issue with consuming excessive amounts of dairy products or milk is the potential impact on the rest of your diet. Dietitians are concerned that it can eliminate other nutritious foods from your diet, such as fruits and vegetables, which might have a detrimental effect.

When milk is substituted, it might occasionally result in inaccurate conclusions about what is actually occurring in your body. When people stop drinking milk and notice a difference in how they feel, it\’s frequently not because the milk was wreaking havoc on their bodies (again, assuming no allergies). It\’s because switching out that dairy for more nutrient-dense produce and other whole foods increases the quality of their diet as a whole.

The beverage will likely contain saturated fat unless you choose skim milk, so keep that in mind as well. The majority of medical professionals concur that increasing saturated fat consumption raises cholesterol, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease even if the effects of saturated fat are strongly contested and can be consumed in some amounts.

Milk Myths You Don’t Need to Worry About

Not all worries about milk are made equivalent, essentially according to a logical point of view. For instance, most of the claims that drinking milk will alter hormone levels, lead to heart disease, or cause diabetes, are untrue.

The majority of mainstream experts believe that, with the possible exception of an increased risk of prostate cancer (more on that later), the quality of any evidence indicating that milk would be harmful is pretty poor; think of \”associations\” or \”based on animal studies\” as opposed to high-quality controlled trials.

Additionally, most examinations implying to show milk\’s potential damages likewise should be viewed as with regards to other problematic exploration. For example, a review distributed recently in the English Diary of Nourishment found that eating full-fat dairy items expanded the gamble of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes — yet a recent report, distributed in the diary Dissemination, observed that eating full-fat dairy was related with a lower diabetes risk.

Does Milk Make You Fat?

Even the claim that drinking milk would make you fat is unproven.

It is true that milk is produced by mammals and serves a biological purpose, namely to nourish young children so they can mature and develop, according to Foroutan.

IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) and growth hormone, both of which are intended to cause animal growth, are found naturally in milk. However, there isn\’t any evidence to suggest that the amount present in milk would cause fat or result in a jacked physique. (As we already noted, there is some data that drinking milk after a workout can help you gain muscle, largely because to the protein content).

Of course, you may well put on weight if you consume ice cream daily or put cheese on everything. However, if you consume dairy in moderation—even full-fat dairy—it may actually aid in weight loss. \”Fat sends an important signal to the brain that you\’re full, which can help with portion control,\” claims

5 Reasons to Ditch Dairy

According to Webster, the preponderance of the data now suggests that dairy is advantageous (or at the very least not detrimental) for most people, even if research is always changing.

The main difficulty is that every person has a different body. Even though the majority of people appear to be able to tolerate some dairy, Foroutan warns that consumption of dairy products \”may trigger inflammation if you don\’t break it down well or have some sensitivity to it.\”

These may be compelling arguments for you to switch to a dairy-free diet, or at the very least, limit your consumption to rare treats.

1. You’re lactose intolerant.

True dairy allergies are relatively uncommon, but many people have a condition called lactose intolerance, which prevents them from properly digesting lactose, the main sugar contained in milk. Therefore, consuming anything lactose-containing causes uncomfortable GI symptoms including cramps, gas, or diarrhoea.

According to Foroutan, \”it\’s simple to detect because you\’d have a pretty quick reaction to eating or drinking something with lactose in it.\” Request a lactose tolerance (blood) test from your doctor if you want a more precise diagnosis.

Even if you have a lactose intolerance, you might still be able to eat some dairy products. Hard cheeses and yoghurt that is high in probiotics typically don\’t contain lactose, but milk and ice cream must be avoided at all costs.

2. You’re not lactose intolerant, but
dairy still upsets your stomach.

Even if a lactose intolerance test was performed on you and the results were negative, you may still feel awful after consuming dairy. You\’re not dreaming, most likely.

Foroutan claims that casein and whey, two proteins found in dairy, can be problematic for some people. She laments that it is quite challenging to screen for sensitivity.

Feel free to believe your gut if it alerts you to a problem. You could also try an elimination diet: After giving up all dairy for a few weeks, perform a \”challenge\” in which you gradually introduce various dairy items to see how you respond. (Butter, for example, contains casein and whey but little lactose.) You could check out

3. Milk gives you a lethargic feeling.

Other than digestive problems, intolerance can manifest itself in many ways. Someone who experiences bloating, fatigue, or sluggishness after consuming dairy products may be hypersensitive to one or more of its ingredients. According to Foroutan, \”some people don\’t even notice until the next day; sometimes we call it a \’food hangover\’.\”

If that describes you, it could be worthwhile to give up dairy for a few weeks before gradually reintroducing it to determine if that is the true problem. However, the truth is that you don\’t have to take dairy if you feel better without it.

4. You have a higher-than-average risk of prostate cancer.

The relationship between dairy consumption and various cancer kinds remains hazy. For instance, some research suggest that it may increase the risk of breast cancer, while others demonstrate that it decreases that risk. (The majority of evidence appears to support the conclusion that it lowers the risk of breast cancer.)

A bit differently is prostate cancer. Although there isn\’t absolute proof that dairy significantly increases the risk of developing prostate cancer, there is ample cause for alarm among doctors, including those at the American Cancer Society.

Although that\’s not the most convincing proof, Malik believes it merits mentioning. Prostate specific antigen (PSA), which can be detected through a blood test, may be raised if you have a high chance of developing prostate cancer.

5. You just don’t want to eat dairy.

The best justification for eating dairy in most healthy adults is that it tastes good. You can exclude milk from your diet for perfectly good reasons if you\’re a vegan and don\’t want to eat anything that includes animals or if you\’re worried about the impact dairy farming has on the environment, according to Malik.

Certain nutrients, like calcium, may be difficult for you to obtain, but there are other methods to meet your needs. Calcium can also be found in certain beans, leafy greens, and tofu. Always seek the advice of a licenced dietitian.

Do You Need Milk? (And Key Takeaways)

The best advice you’ll find on milk, based on the current research, comes from Marion Nestle, Ph.D., a retired professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University.

“[THE RESEARCH] TELLS ME THAT MILK IS A FOOD LIKE ANY OTHER, MEANING THAT ITS EFFECTS DEPEND ON EVERYTHING ELSE PEOPLE ARE EATING OR DOING. PEOPLE WHO LIKE MILK CAN CONTINUE DRINKING IT. THOSE WHO DON’T LIKE IT DON’T HAVE TO.”

To put it another way, how you handle milk should be a matter of preference and tolerance. To recap what it could do to your diet and health, as well as the reasons why you might want to cut back on it:

  • Calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein, and milk are all good sources. These nutrients are necessary for good health, including healthy bones. However, you can acquire them from other sources as well.
  • If you want milk and need a baseline, aim for one serving per day.
  • Even if you are not lactose intolerant, if milk makes you feel sick, reduce your intake or eliminate it entirely.
  • You can get the supplements tracked down in dairy from different food sources, or converse with your primary care physician about taking an enhancement.
  • Prostate cancer risk has been linked in some studies to consuming a lot of dairy. Dairy consumption may be restricted or eliminated if you already have a high risk for this disease.