The Dairy Catch-22

It’s not impossible you've read or heard conflicting researches or news about dairy products. Some research findings suggest that weight loss is promoted by drinking milk. Other findings show that weight gain is linked to drinking milk, and even likely to increase the risk of diabetes or other diseases. Some unconfirmed report also suggest that milk is a no go area for older people. This is definitely a catch-22 situation: to drink or not to drink milk? 

The positives of drinking milk
Milk naturally contains calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.
Calcium is an essential mineral that not only helps build strong bones and teeth, but also regulates heartbeat. 84% of the calcium in our diet comes from milk and other products made from cow's milk, such as yogurt.
Potassium is another mineral essential for normal blood pressure levels. In fact, people with high blood pressure can often lower their blood pressure to healthy levels by eating more foods that contain potassium: fruits, vegetables, and milk.  
Phosphorus yet another critical mineral helps build healthy bones. One more added benefit is that milk is now fortified with vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin needed for bone mineralisation and a healthy immune system. 

One eight-ounce cup of skim milk provides 25% of your daily vitamin D needs, which is no small measure considering vitamin D is only present in a few foods such as egg yolks, liver and fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, and salmon.
Several scientific studies have shown positive health benefits in people who routinely drink milk. Hence if you want to lower your blood pressure, maintain strong healthy bones,  lessen your risk of dental cavities, and probably avert some types of cancer, select three eight-ounce servings of milk products per day.
As regards reports that drinking milk helps you to lose weight, some research studies actually show that drinking three cups of nonfat milk per day helps people lose weight, but other studies show no weight loss at all, unless you restrict your total calorie intake at the same time.

The negatives of drinking milk
Cow's milk is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, two major things known to increase the risk of heart disease. One cup of whole milk or one ounce of regular cheese contains almost one-quarter of daily quota of saturated fat. If you want to lose weight, a better choice will be fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt. 

One in four adults is probably lactose intolerant.  This means they don't digest lactose, the form of carbohydrate present in cow's milk. Lactose intolerance causes gas, bloating and diarrhea. Milk from the cow is a top allergy food. If you're strictly allergic to cow's milk, you can't eat anything that contains milk in any form, including butter, ice cream, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt, as well as many cakes, cookies and breads. Moreso, casein, a protein found in milk, is often used as a binder in meat products such as bologna, hot dogs, pepperoni and salami. 

Some scientific studies show a link between drinking cow's milk and diabetes in children. The concept is that contact with the protein in cow's milk creates antibodies that destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas of genetically susceptible children. These nutrition scientists point to the exaggerated benefit of milk hinting milk is unnecessary for a healthy diet. They also went further to question the study that links drink consumption to weight loss, and itemised many nondairy foods that provide calcium, potassium, vitamin D and other essential nutrients for healthy bones, for example calcium-fortified orange juice, canned salmon with bones and greens are good sources of calcium. Potassium is plenty in many fruits and vegetables, and vitamin D is often added to cold breakfast cereals. To this group of scientists, milk is optional, not a need.

What to do
If like me you love milk, yogurt or cheese, go ahead and enjoy them. To avoid unnecessary saturated fat, choose fat-free or reduced-fat products as often possible. Some types of yogurt are high in sugar, so be sure to read labels for both fat and sugar content.

If you don't like dairy products or they don’t agree with you, you have lactose intolerance or are allergic to dairy, ensure you choose either a replacement beverage that is fortified with vitamin D and calcium or get these essential nutrients from other food sources.
If weight loss is your main goal, don’t depend simply on drinking milk to melt those pounds away. Restricting calorie intake as well as engaging in more physical activity is the best way to lose weight and maintain it. Fat-free, or low fat, milk can be a part of your calorie controlled diet, because whole milk will add 200 extra calories to your daily intake which is enough to make you gain more than 10kg in 12 months! 
Photo Credit: Creative Commons.


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