Dairy is one of those controversial topics that always leaves the reader confused. You to begin wonder whether that glass of milk is going to make you fat and increase you risk of cancer or assist you in meeting your daily calcium requirements which is vital for strong bones and teeth. It’s time to finally put your mind at ease and bust these dairy myths once and for all.
1. Dairy Causes Cancer And Should Be Avoided
Firstly let’s take a look at the different types of cancer and the summary of the current findings.
- Prostate cancer
Studies suggest that high intakes of dairy are associated with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. The proposed explanation is that consumption of dairy causes an increase in levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) in the bloodstream which is a stimulus for cancer cell growth1.
- Breast cancer
Overall the studies reveal that there is no consistent evidence to prove a link between dairy consumption and increased risk of breast cancer2. On the contrary, studies have shown that dairy products excluding milk may in fact have protective effect3.
- Ovarian cancer
Galactose is a component of the milk sugar lactose. It has been pinpointed as a possible culprit for dairy increasing risk of ovarian cancer1. Studies are however limited and only make the possible link for high intakes of dairy.
- Stomach cancer
A few studies suggest that IGF-1 increases risk. On the other hand numerous studies have identified possible protective milk components such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)4. There is therefore no clear evidence linking dairy consumption to increased risk of stomach cancer.
- Colorectal cancer
Most studies link consumption of dairy with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer4.
So, what’s the verdict? As expressed by Cancer Research UK ‘studies looking into the link between cancer and dairy products have not given clear results’5. The Cancer Council encourages people to eat ‘at least two and a half serves of dairy foods (milk, yoghurt and cheese) or alternatives each day’6. One serve equals 1 cup milk, 200g yoghurt or 40g hard cheese (about the size of a matchbox).
2. Low Fat/Skim Milk Is Always Better Than Full Cream
Wondering why this this is a myth? Well, when examined holistically, studies comparing full fat dairy with low-fat dairy have revealed that full fat dairy is associated with a lower risk of obesity7. The proposed explanation for this is that people who drink low-fat dairy compensate for the missing fat with other foods, thus leading to a higher intake of calories and weight gain.
Milk consumption regardless of fat level may lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure. It also has a neutral effect on your cholesterol levels.
Cow, goat and sheep milk contains naturally occurring trans fatty acids. Humans convert the main trans fatty acid in dairy into a potentially beneficial trans fat called rumenic acid. Rumenic acid is however removed during the fat removal process for dairy products.
Full cream milk is therefore not always the best option. Every individual has different nutritional requirements and it is important to keep these in mind when you look at your total calorie intake as well as the source of these calories. For children, healthy fats play an essential role in growth and development. In this case, full fat dairy in the correct amount may be the most suitable option. Individuals with increased energy requirements may also benefit from the use of full fat dairy. Conversely, low-fat or fat- free dairy may still be the most beneficial option for weight management. Although the studies link full fat dairy to a lower risk of obesity, this does not necessarily mean that it is the best option for weight management. The participants of these studies who consumed low-fat dairy did not control their total calorie intake and compensated for the missing calories in the dairy with other foods. If your goal is to lose weight, your nutritional requirements will be lower. Consuming the correct amount of low-fat or fat-free dairy in combination with a healthy, balanced diet will help you to limit your calorie intake and assist in weight management.
Bottom line is low fat/skim is not always the best option. Children and those with increased energy requirements may benefit from full cream milk. Those who wish to lose weight may consume the correct amount of low-fat or fat-free dairy in combination with a healthy, balanced diet.
3. Milk Makes Mucus WORSE – Avoid It When You Have A Cold
The first thing your grandparents may tell you to do when you have the sniffles is to avoid milk, so this one may come as a surprise to many. Studies conclude that there is no link between milk consumption and mucus production or asthma. Interestingly, one study in particular revealed that participants infected with a common cold virus said that after drinking milk they had symptoms of an increase in mucus production. When mucus production was measured there was however no statistical difference8. Consumption of milk therefore does not increase mucus production. It is postulated that this sensation may be due to the texture and viscosity of milk.
Studies show that consuming milk when you have a cold does not cause an increase in mucus production.
4. People With Lactose Intolerance Can’t Have Any Dairy
Many people are quick to diagnose themselves with lactose intolerance and subsequently cut out all dairy from their diet. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products. This results from a shortage or deficiency of the enzyme lactase or lactose malabsorption. Lactase is produced in the small intestine. If an individual who has a lactose deficiency or lactose malabsorption consumes lactose in food and drinks then they may experience one or more of the following 30 minutes- 2 hours later10:
- Stomach cramps
There are numerous factors that could cause any of these symptoms so make sure that you either do an elimination diet or visit your doctor to confirm that you have lactose intolerance.
Despite popular belief, not everyone with lactose intolerance has to avoid lactose completely. Every individual has a different level of tolerance to lactose. Some people can consume up to 1 cup of milk whereas others may experience discomfort from a teaspoon of milk in their coffee. Those who don’t tolerate milk may be able to eat foods that contain smaller amounts of lactose such as yoghurt and cheese. These individuals may have lactose free milk, soy milk, almond milk or rice milk instead.
‘Research suggests that adults and adolescents with lactose malabsorption could eat or drink at least 12 grams of lactose in one sitting without symptoms or with only minor symptoms’10. This would be the equivalent of 1 cup of milk. Lactose may also be tolerated in small amounts throughout the day or with meals for people with lactose malabsorption.
Individuals with lactose intolerance have different levels of tolerance to lactose. Once they determine their individual tolerance, they can include different forms of dairy in their diet according to this limit.
5. Organic Milk Is Better Than Regular Milk
It is the norm to associate organic with better. Even just the word itself sounds fresh and healthy. The truth is that there is no difference in terms of the safety, quality and nutrition between organic milk and regular milk. The Dairy Council of California has made the statement that ‘cup for cup, organic and regular milk contain the same nine essential nutrients’9. So then what is the difference between the two? Organic milk comes from cows that have been fed an organic feed which is free from mammalian or poultry by-products. Throughout the grazing season these cows have access to grassland. They are not treated with synthetic hormones and also not given antibiotics11.
It is important to remember that milk is one of the most highly regulated and safest foods available. Both regular milk and organic milk is routinely tested for pesticides and antibiotics. In addition to this there are very strict safety standards that need to be complied with to ensure that it is nutritious, pure and safe.
There is no difference in terms of the safety, quality and nutrition between organic milk and regular milk.
So, there we go. A few of the most common dairy myths busted! Don’t believe everything you hear or read. Always look for credible sources and make your own judgements based on these.
Where Does FUTURELIFE® Fit In?
Now that you have the facts, go ahead and enjoy your favourite flavour of FUTURELIFE® Smart Drink™. This delicious milk based drink contains 50 essential amino acids and is a source of electrolytes. It contains full-cream milk, but the overall composition is low-fat. FUTURELIFE® Smart Drink™ is a convenient meal or snack for people with on-the-go lifestyles. The combination of carbohydrates and protein also make it ideal as a post training recovery drink after endurance or strength training. So go ahead and give your favourite flavour a try!