Dairy Myths Debunked

Dairy has been getting a lot of negative press lately, especially due to the increase of plant- based diets.  There may be some truth to that particularly ethical and environmental related factors but some of the claims surrounding dairy are not true. 

Dairy has important nutritious benefits: 

  • High quality protein
  • Important minerals such as: calcium, iodine, phosphorus and potassium
  • Vitamin B2, B5 and B12

Diary is also great for muscle recovery and hydration after exercise, and some types of fermented dairy (like kefir and live yoghurt) contain probiotics which are great for our gut health. 

1. Milk Causes Mucus

  • According to different investigations the consumption of milk does not seem to increase the symptoms of asthma and a relationship between milk consumption and the occurrence of asthma cannot be established.
  • However, there are a few cases documented in which people with a cow’s milk allergy presented with asthma-like symptoms 
  • Milk does leave a film coating in the mouth but that does not link to any mucus formation 
Text Box: No evidence that supports that milk causes increased mucus production

2. All dairy is full of sugar “

  • Dairy contains a natural type of sugar called lactose – but this does not count as “free sugar” that we need to limit, because it is combined with many beneficial nutrients within dairy foods
  • Labelling can be confusing as it states “sugar” which could be confused as added sugar 
  • Free sugars include: table sugar, honey, syrups, jam (and products which contain these ( Normal Cow’s milk does not have ADDED sugar) 
  • Milk usually contains 3-5g of sugar per 100ml, which falls into the low sugar category (less than 5g sugar per 100ml) 
  •  Natural yoghurt usually contains 5-9g of sugar per 100ml, which falls into the ‘medium sugar’ category. 
  • Flavored yoghurts are the ones that  have a lot of free sugar added to it, it is often a good idea to either read the label to choose lower sugar options (less than 5g per 100ml of added sugar) , or to go for natural yoghurt and add your own fruit for sweetness.
Text Box: Not all dairy is full sugar, cow’s milk does not have added sugars. Natural, Plain yoghurt contains much low or no sugar compared to flavored yoghurt – Choose natural, plain yoghurt

3. Raw milk/ Unpastureized milk is healthier than regular milk 

  • Raw milk is the Cow’s milk that has not been pasteurized – this poses the risk of food poisoning from bacteria that might be present in the milk. This is more of concern for the vulnerable group of people e.g.  Pregnant & lactating Women, children, immune compromised 
  • Claims related to improved nutrition, prevention of lactose intolerance, or provision of “good” bacteria from the consumption of raw milk have no scientific basis and are myths.
  • There are some epidemiological data that indicate that children growing up in a farming environment are associated with a decreased risk of allergy and asthma; a variety of environmental factors may be involved and there is no direct evidence that raw milk consumption is involved in any “protective” effect.
Text Box: Raw milk does not have any better health benefits compared to regular milk – It is advisable to consume pasteurized milk particularly for vulnerable groups of people

 

5. Dairy causes Acne 

  • There is some evidence that dairy (especially low-fat versions) is associated with a higher risk of acne. But this isn’t very strong as the studies have been small and observational (so no direct link can be identified). 
  • Diet may not play a role in acne risk for everybody, as this is influenced by a number of factors including our genetics and hormones.
  • However, eating a balanced and nutritious diet which is good for our overall health is also good for our skin and may reduce the risk of acne for some people (i.e. Mediterranean-style diet which includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, not too much sugar, healthy fats from nuts, avocados, oily fish etc).
  • So it is possible that dairy might impact acne risk for some people, but there isn’t enough evidence to say that this is a definite link.  Adding dairy as part of a healthy eating plan has more benefits than its link to acne 
Text Box: There is also much more evidence for other more well-established dermatological treatments for acne, as compared with cutting out dairy

References 

Yours in health, 

Mbali 

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