The Dairy Debate

There are a lot of people that firmly believe that dairy – milk in particular – has no place in the diet of adults. The arguments against consumption of cow’s milk are classically cited as the fact that humans are the only species that drinks milk after the growth stage of life. Well, how many dogs, zebras, pigs or other four-legged creatures have you chatted up in the grocery line recently… or ever?

It is highly unlikely that any of the furry creatures of the animal kingdom are capable of heading to the local grocer and picking up a gallon of milk, so let’s just not go there.

As a student of nutrition (at a 4-year university, not an online certification) who studied under the tutelage of some experienced, highly respected and educated professors, I never heard them refute the role of dairy in the adult diet. Here are a few “fun facts” discussed in class.

  • Cow’s milk is not suitable for babies under the age of 12 months. Children this young will not get enough vitamin E, potassium, iron or essential fatty acids and will get too much protein, sodium and potassium for their system to appropriately handle. Breast milk is best until this time. If breast-feeding is not an option, iron-fortified formulas are a sufficient replacement.
  • Raw cow’s milk has been linked to disease (like MRSA) and death among the populations that consume them and is actually a “black market” service in some states. There have been numerous cases of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in raw milk.
  • Under chemical analysis, cow’s milk is considered an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, calcium and B vitamins.
  • Cow’s milk is high in sodium – so if you are monitoring your sodium intake, check the milk label and realize it accounts for a lot.
  • Milk is fortified with vitamin D in the U.S. and is one of the few food sources where vitamin D is bioavailable (compared to a majority of other foods.)
  • Individuals who are lactose intolerant or suffer from other food allergies that may be exacerbated by dairy products should not consume milk.
  • Lactose intolerance is an allergy passed down from generation to generation. In some lactose intolerance may be developed due to injury to the small intestine or diseases of the GI tract, such as Crohn’s disease.
  • Cow’s milk is not an exclusive link to weight gain. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, consumption may inhibit healthy weight loss. However, just like any other food, excess calories contribute to weight gain. If milk is part of your diet, ensure that you are counting those calories when planning your daily intake.

Dairy is and, will likely remain, a source of debate in the industry. Much like gluten, dairy is linked to allergies that many individuals suffer from – unaware. These individuals may find weight loss success and other benefits by eliminating these foods from their diet. Suddenly, it becomes a sensation that they simply must tell everyone about. Before you know it, someone writes a book, opinions surface and a debate emerges among experts and the general population.

If you struggle with healthy weight management or GI discomfort, there may be a link to a specific food in your diet. Check out 7 Food Destroying Your Good Health for the foods most commonly linked to allergies and intolerance. The article also includes tips for a diet plan to determine exactly which foods might be to blame.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, whatever you decide, make it a choice for good health and not a fad.

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