Updated: May 20
“Dairy is nature's perfect food -- but only if you're a calf.”
-Mark Hyman, MD (Practicing Physician)
Dairy products or milk since then seem like an essential part of everybody's daily living. From the time when milk is delivered from house-to-house. It has been a daily staple for many people and has been for a millennia. While it is still a popular dairy product, recent studies suggest how milk can be harmful to the body.
If that sounds shocking to you, it's because very few people are willing to tell the truth about dairy. So, what’s the truth? Here are some of the pros and cons of milk, as well as some alternatives you may want to consider.
PROS Milk/Dairy is considered as a whole food, for it provides 18 out of 22 essential nutrients a human body needs: Calcium, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Vitamins A/B-12, Zinc, Iron, and Protein.
Aside from that there are a lot of benefits that can be acquired from milk that is: appetite control, bone development, bone and dental health, diabetes prevention, heart health.
CONS Such dairy products can have negative effects on your body as well: acne, other skin conditions, allergies, bone fractures, cancers, lactose intolerance are few of the negative effects.
The Truth about Dairy according to Dr. Willett, who has done many studies and reviewed the research on this topic, there are many reasons to pass up milk, including:
1. Milk doesn't reduce fractures. Contrary to popular belief, taking up dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses' Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!
2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
3. Calcium isn't as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.
4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man's risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, dairy consumption increases the body's level of insulin-like growth factor which is a known cancer promoter.
5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn't. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
6. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world's population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products -- a problem called lactose intolerance.
That is why milk/dairy alternatives were studied and promoted. Plant and nut-based milks are made-suitable for those individuals who are lactose intolerant or vegan:
Almond milk which is low in fat and sugars; high in vitamin E, good source of calcium, moderate amounts of potassium. Cashew milk that is low in calories and fat. Cashew milk is full of redeeming nutrients, like magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium and zinc. The fat in cashews is mostly unsaturated and they are a good source of protein. Soy Milk that contains similar amounts of proteins; half the carbs and fats a whole milk has. It’s a good source of potassium and can be fortified with vitamins A, B-12, and D, as well as calcium.
Coconut milk which contains low calories and carbs and half the fat. Coconut milk is safe for most people with nut allergies. It can be fortified to be a good source of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.
Oat milk that’s lower in fat and high on fiber. Oat milk is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber.
Rice milk that is low in fat. It’s the least allergenic of milk alternatives. It can be fortified to be a good source of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Rice milk is naturally sweeter than other milk alternatives.