Is milk bad for you?
For such a long time, dairy has been a great recommendation for good health. But now with more information becoming available to us, we have to wonder, is milk bad for you? Or should it be an essential staple? It’s believed to be a great source of essential minerals, especially calcium, beneficial to teeth and bone development in young children.
But apart from that, what else does dairy do to your body? While we can’t dispute the calcium content in milk, we can’t ignore the fact that dairy is harmful to your health and wellbeing. Besides, there are great plant-based sources that can fill your calcium requirements.
This article takes you through the side effects of dairy on the body and why you and your family should actually avoid it.
Effects of Dairy on the Body
Dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt are staples in many Western diets because they’re high in calcium, which helps prevent osteoporosis. But does that mean we need to drink cow’s milk to stay healthy? The answer is no—and there are plenty of reasons why you should ditch dairy in favor of plant-based milk instead. Here are 10 of them!
1. Dairy is high in saturated fat
High levels of saturated fats in dairy and its products can elevate your total cholesterol, especially the bad cholesterol leading to arterial blockages causing high blood pressure and increased risk for various conditions, including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
That’s not to say you don’t need cholesterol, because it’s essential. It’s necessary for different metabolic processes, including vitamin D production, brain function, hormone production, bile production in the liver, nerve transmission,
But, the body produces its own cholesterol, so you don’t need to supplement it in your diet.
Read more about the benefits of swapping vegetable fats with dairy ones in this study.
2. Dairy consumption may lead to lactose intolerance
Did you know that more than 75 percent of the world’s population is lactose intolerant? Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar in milk and dairy products. This may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, nausea, belching, and vomiting.
Most people are lactose intolerant and don’t know it. When your body doesn’t make enough of an enzyme that breaks down a natural sugar in milk called lactose, it can cause stomach problems. If you can’t digest milk products, they can rot in your gut and cause gas, which bloats your belly resulting in other digestive symptoms. You could also be allergic to milk. Symptoms of a milk allergy include:
- Diarrhea and vomiting or hives.
- Swelling of your tongue or lips.
- Trouble breathing.
But even if you don’t have an allergy, it doesn’t mean that milk is good for you. It may still contain hormones and antibiotics that can upset your stomach.
The best way to avoid lactose intolerance is to avoid dairy and its products. Read more about lactose malabsorption statistics here.
3. It robs bones of calcium
We’ve always been told how milk is good for building strong bones, but thanks to research, it turns out that dairy does the exact opposite. It robs your bones of calcium, causing them to become weak and brittle.
This is because when the protein in milk is digested, it produces acid. But since the body has to operate at a certain PH, and with calcium being a neutralizer, it will neutralize the acid to ensure a balanced metabolic environment for proper body functions.
So the calcium in the dairy and that from your own stores that should be utilized in building strong bones goes into getting rid of the acid. This also involves leaching calcium from the bones, leading to weak bones predisposed to easy fractures.
Here is a study discussing this issue.
4. It’s highly associated with acne
The biggest cause of acne is probably dairy. Dairy products contain hormones, which can interfere with your body’s endocrine system and contribute to acne. Cutting out dairy may help clear up skin. A small study by German researchers found that people who consumed a lot of milk had higher levels of androgens (male hormones) in their blood.
The same study also linked acne to high androgen levels and insulin resistance. As well as causing breakouts, androgens have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Also, animal products, in general, aren’t great for your skin because they slow down cell turnover and lead to a buildup of oil, dirt, and bacteria. If you have an acne problem (and many do), it may be time to say goodbye to any animal products.
Keep in mind that the side effects of dairy on the skin may vary with individuals, but either way, just because the side effects of dairy do not manifest as acne in some individuals doesn’t mean they are immune to other dangers of dairy.
Likewise, if you are a great fan of dairy and its products but you struggle with acne, maybe it’s time to let go.
5. Increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
The high-fat content and hormones in milk have been linked to breast cancer in women.
In one study, a high intake of dairy and dairy products was associated with new cancer cases after 7.9 years of follow-up in patients initially cancer-free.
In one epidemiological study, a high intake of dairy and its products increased the risk of developing breast cancer. The same study found that women who consumed high-fat dairy products had a higher mortality rate after a breast cancer diagnosis than those who consumed less.
A low-fat diet after breast cancer diagnosis reduced recurrence rates and increased survival in another meta-analysis.
Several studies have also shown an association between dairy consumption and ovarian cancer. For example, one large Danish study found that women who drank more than three glasses of milk per day were almost twice as likely to develop ovarian cancer compared to those who drank less than one glass per day.
6. Dairy consumption may lead to prostate and colorectal cancer
While milk may be considered a healthy drink for most adults, one serving can actually significantly increase your risk of developing certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer and prostate cancer, the most common type of cancer in men.
According to research, high consumption of dairy products, including low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, and calcium from dairy products, increased prostate cancer risk.
In another study published in the Journal of Nutrition, increased intake of whole milk was significantly associated with fatal prostate cancer and high mortality. In contrast, skimmed milk was associated with an increased risk for early-stage prostate cancer.
Researchers have also found that if everyone in America replaced just one serving of milk with an equivalent amount of calcium from other calcium-rich foods each day, there would be an estimated 80,000 fewer cases of colorectal cancer every year.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get all of your daily calcium without resorting to dairy products! Try eating more leafy greens, broccoli, beans, and soybeans. You’ll still be getting plenty of protein too!
7. Increases the risk of Parkinson’s disease
According to research, high consumption of dairy products is highly associated with Parkinson’s disease.
8. Drinking milk stunts growth in children
For decades, milk has been touted as an essential part of a healthy diet. But new research suggests it may actually stunt growth in children. The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that children who drank three or more glasses of milk per day experienced slower growth than their peers who did not drink as much milk.
Additionally, those who drank three or more glasses of milk a day during their adolescent years had lower bone density than those who did not drink as much milk. While previous studies have linked high milk consumption to shorter height in children, there has been little research into how it may affect bone health.
The new study included about 2,700 U.S. girls and boys aged 9 to 14 who were followed for three years as part of a larger national nutrition study. Researchers found that drinking three or more glasses of milk per day was associated with a 4 percent slower growth rate compared with kids who drank less than one glass per week. Each additional daily glass of milk was also associated with 0.2-inch (0.5 centimeters) smaller hip circumference at age 19.
9. Dairy makes kids hyperactive
A recent study of more than 12,000 children found that those who drank cow’s milk had higher levels of activity than their peers. Cow’s milk contains a stimulant called methylphenidate, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Cutting out dairy products can help many kids calm down and learn better.
10. Contributes to weight gain
There are three different types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Saturated fats increase your risk of heart disease and stroke by raising bad LDL cholesterol levels in your blood. Dairy products contain large amounts of saturated fat.
Additionally, many people think that skim or non-fat milk must be a healthy alternative to whole milk because it contains less fat than whole milk. However, studies have shown that consuming low-fat dairy products can actually lead to weight gain due to increased consumption of sugar. Read More.
11. Can trigger migraines and headaches
Dairy products have been known to trigger migraines and headaches in some people, which may not be surprising when you think about how loaded milk is with sugar.
Dairy can cause a spike in blood sugar levels that may lead to headaches and symptoms of pre-diabetes, such as fatigue and cravings. For those who suffer from chronic headaches or migraines, it’s worth cutting out dairy for a few weeks to see if your symptoms improve. See More.
12. Dairy may be addictive
Some studies show that dairy may be addictive. Why? Milk contains casein and whey, two proteins that, when digested, may release opiates called casomorphins into your system. The more milk you drink, the higher your level of casomorphins—and a growing body of research suggests that casomorphins can stimulate hunger, increase cravings, and addiction. Also, See This Study.
Best plant-based milk substitutes for dairy
Consuming dairy is usually a habit that we develop from childhood. And while it can be easy for some people to go dairy-free and not think about it ultimately, it can be quite challenging for some.
But the fact remains that you can’t consume dairy and avoid the side effects simultaneously. That’s where dairy alternatives come into play.
Thank goodness there is a variety of plant milk that you can choose from or at least try them out until you settle on your favorite.
The best milk alternatives to try include:
- Soy milk (go for organic)
- Coconut milk
- Almond milk
- Hemp milk
- Rice milk
- Pea milk
- Cashew milk
- Oat milk
- Hazelnut milk
- Tiger nut milk
Also, you can find different dairy products like ice cream and other milk products but with plant-based alternatives. Remember to always go for organic when possible.
And if possible, make your own, since most store-bought plant-based milk contains additives to thicken them and prolong their shelf life.
Another advantage of making your own milk over buying in-store is that you know exactly what’s in your milk.
In conclusion: is milk bad for you?
Dairy has been promoted as a healthy drink, especially because of its calcium content. However, dairy and its products can be very damaging to your health and wellbeing.
Regular dairy consumption may increase your cholesterol level, increase your chances of developing high blood pressure and heart disease, cause lactulose intolerance, acne, weak bones, and fractures, and increased the risk of developing different cancers, including prostate and breast cancer.
The best thing is that you have a variety of plant-based milk alternatives to enjoy and choose from.
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