Milk – drink, restrict or abstain?…

WOW, the milk debate is pretty huge and once you start doing your own research it seems to get more and more complicated!  Have you noticed how there are more & more ‘new’ variances of milk available today ? – I guess this is a consequence of a growing and more demanding consumer market and of course greater technology to enable us to produce these specialised options.

However it can be very confusing when popping down to your local supermarket!

Some of the options available:-

Whole milk – good range of nutrients, but tastes too ‘creamy’ for me!

Skim or semi skimmed milk – low fat, but tastes like water!

Low lactose or lactose free – good if you’re intolerant

Half fat (Lite white) – choose this if you’re calorie conscious!

Modified, may be protein enriched, high in calcium/iron, good for specific dietary requirements (eg A2, Farmers Best,Casein free)

Long Life (ultra heat treated) not the best, it will last, but enzymes are killed and it tastes terrible!

The whole debate as to whether milk is good or bad for you is too big to answer in a few short paragraphs – when I have been researching this, it appears that people tend to be either too pro or too anti to give a reasonable account of whatever reality is! It’s hard to find information based on facts and not just biased opinion, and studies are often flawed. I personally tend to not be taken in by a totally biased dairy website (I believe you can quite happily equate the Dairy industry with the Pharmaceutical one – it’s all about money!) – but neither is milk the cause of all disease! The facts are that humans ARE designed to drink milk, from their mothers – for a certain amount of time any way. One argument against milk is that they say we weren’t ‘designed’  to drink other species milk & are the only ones to do it – well, that doesn’t mean that we CAN’T drink another species milk, or adapt to it and it is kinda hard to imagine a giraffe milking a goat to try its milk, & why would they?!

Milk DOES have many nutrients in it which are certainly beneficial to health and it’s easy to consume…this point is quite relevent. The nutrients you get in milk are easily found in other forms, particularly green leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and nuts. Calcium, despite what we are lead to believe from the diary industry, is not the only, or main factor in bone strength and density, in fact some studies have shown the opposite. What is also important to note here is the relevance of Vitamin D (from either the sun or now some great supplement sources) and performing resistance training is actually known to be more effective. In fact countries with the lowest intake of calcium /dairy (Africa & Asia), also have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. There are other studies however showing milk consumption as having a protective effect on fractures (- Journal of Adolescent HealthVolume 15, Issue 3, May 1994, Pages 210-215), especially with diets containing soda or carbonated drinks.

Most ‘studies’ however, even ones done by reputable journals, usually have too many variables to make them totally accurate, so I tend to take them with a pinch of salt… or calcium in this case!

So what do you do? There are some people who have different levels of lactose tolerance and may suffer various side effects by consuming dairy or milk products and obviously need to be aware of their consumption. If you are having gut problems and are not sure of the cause it may be wise to see if you are lactose intolerant. However, most people who are lactose intolerant CAN consume up to 12 grams a day.

Many people are concerned and rightly so, about the amount of hormones given to cows to extend their milking potential, plus they may have to be given antibiotics to counteract infection from being over milked – these can be passed into the cows milk and hence onto us – much like pesticides and herbicides on our vegetables. These, plus other toxins DO pose a threat to our health – DeTOX is a whole other topic which I will be addressing soon, but buying ORGANIC is a definite advantage, and the price is becoming more competitive as well. My advice remains the same –

..Be aware of what you are consuming, in quality and quantity. A balanced diet is always the way to go. Be aware of calories without having to necessarily spend valuable time counting them. Restrict or eliminate packaged / processed / fast food, and thereby unwanted chemicals & toxins, eat at regular (3-4 hour) intervals, drink actual water everyday (i.e not just coffee!). If weight control is your concern limit your dairy intake, keep it low fat but allow for treats. If taking IsoWhey go for the semi skimmed/ low fat option if you decide to use milk – or try RICE, SOY or even ALMOND milk (the ‘lite’ ones though!) In fact Janine, IsoWhey’s resident chef, is about to release a new video on great healthy new ways to take your IsoWhey! Other options include to mix it with water or even fruit juice (no added sugar) – or both! Like I say to my Yoga students – LISTEN to your body, perhaps try new ways of eating & see how YOU feel, we are after all, individuals!

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