We all grew up hearing our mothers tell us to drink our milk because it would make us strong and heal thy and we all know the slogan – “Milk, it does a body good”. However, more and more Americans are giving up milk and other dairy products. Since 1978, the consumption of milk by Americans has dropped from a cup per day to just over a half. In fact, 54% of Americans do not drink milk every day. Why are so many people fleeing from milk (and other dairy products) and should they?
Many people are giving up milk due to allergies or intolerance. A true milk allergy actually affects less than 1% of American adults and causes symptoms like vomiting, hives, or even anaphylactic shock. However, many of us do have an intolerance. As we age we tend to lose the enzyme that enabled us to easily digest milk when we were children. Thus, we notice that we may become bloated or experience gastrointestinal distress after we’ve had dairy. Most people can still handle dairy in moderation and diary that includes live active cultures (like many yogurts) can help us digest the lactose more easily.
Other people have given up dairy because of the fat it contains. Now, there are many low fat and no fat dairy alternatives at the grocery store but too often, the fat has been replaced by sugar. The British Medical Journal actually recommends eating small amounts of full fat dairy items rather than high sugar low fat dairy. Not only will you get more nutrients, the fat will help you feel full and help prevent overeating.
Finally, many people are afraid that dairy may cause cancers like breast, ovarian, or prostate. Some experts feel that it may be the growth hormones that are given to cows in order to boost milk production that are fueling the high rates of these cancers in the U.S. However, there are just as many studies that assert that dairy helps prevent cancer. Fortunately, more grocery stores are carrying dairy products from organic farms as well as dairy that has come from cows who are not given hormones. If you want to continue to consume milk but avoid the hormones, it’s relatively easy to do so.
Milk and dairy are excellent sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. We need all these for strong bones. However, milk and dairy are not the only sources of these vitamins and minerals. Foods like kale and broccoli contain plenty of calcium while we can get vitamin D from the sun as well as egg yolks, cereal, or fatty fish. Finally protein can be found in meat and nuts. There are also many other kinds of milk that can help provide these nutrients. Among them are soy, almond, hemp, coconut, and even rice milk. No matter whether you choose to go dairy free or not, it is important to make sure that you are getting everything you need from your diet. The physicians at Dream Body can help you determine whether your diet is providing all that is necessary for your health and well-being and can even recommend vitamin supplements to make up any shortfalls. Either way, milk is not the miracle worker we may have believed it was when we were growing up, but neither is it something to be avoided at all costs. A little bit of research, your personal preferences, and maybe a little bit of advice from a medical professional are all you need to make your own decision.