Milk is one of the most basic and essential foods, and we’ve consumed it for decades. We drink it daily, we cook and bake with it, but according to a 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal, it’s consumption can be a double-edged sword. The study followed more than 100,000 people in Sweden over periods of 20 to 30 years, and the results were really shocking! The milk drinkers were more likely to die from heart disease and cancer – and among the women – the milk drinkers suffered more from osteoporosis. Does this sound ridiculous to you? Let’s investigate what would happen if we consumed at least three glasses of milk a day.
Common statements about milk would have you believe that its protein and calcium content is essential to support our health – in particular your bones. However, this is actually a misconception stemming from the fact that milk contains a high calcium level – around 300mg per cup, to be specific.
Scientific studies have shown a range of different health effects directly linked to milk consumption. Perhaps the most surprising of these discoveries is that not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cows’ milk (especially if it’s been pasteurised), but regular consumption actually increases calcium loss from your bones. As a result, drinking milk can be a hindrance to healthy bone development and can cause a loss in the calcium level in your bones.
But how could drinking such a calcium rich food lead to lower calcium levels? Well, like all animal proteins, milk acidifies your body’s pH level, which in turn triggers a biological correction. Calcium is an excellent acid neutraliser – and as you might expect – the biggest storage of calcium in your body is within your bones. As a result, the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is also utilised to neutralise the acidifying effect of milk, leading to lower calcium levels in your bones. Once the calcium leaves your bones, it leaves the body via urine, leading to the surprising net calcium deficit. For more information, Save Our Bones has some fantastic information on the link between milk and osteoporosis.
Nowadays, many people have become sensitive to milk sugar (also known as lactose intolerance), leading supermarkets to stock a wide range of lactose free products. At New You Boot Camp, we have a completely diary free diet for therapeutic reasons. Lactose is made from two main building blocks – galactose and glucose -and people who can digest milk will break lactose down into these simpler sugars. In yogurt, bacteria does the work for us, breaking down the lactose into these two separate components.
We suggest taking a break from dairy products for two to four weeks, to see how you feel. Does your postnasal drip go away, and do your sinuses clear up? Does your acne go away? Do you stop having bloating, gas, and diarrhoea? Do you have more energy? Does your eczema clear up? Do your allergies get better? These are some of the more obvious symptoms of lactose intolerance which should be most noticeably cured if you eliminate dairy. If you’re unsure about a link between these symptoms and your dairy intake, try eating dairy again and see how you feel. If these symptoms return, it may be time to look at some dairy alternatives!
If you really insist on consuming dairy products again, try to stick to sheep or goat dairy, and avoid cow dairy to ensure your previous symptoms don’t return. For more information, Dr Hyman has some great information on how milk can be dangerous for you, and Forbes has some fantastic information on the problems with cow dairy products.
At New You Boot Camp, our milk substitute is unsweetened almond milk or oat milk. This is not only because it is alkalising (as almonds are), but also because it’s delicious and tastes almost identical to milk! We even cook all of our food and make all of our desserts with it! You can easily make these milks at home, and if you put them in the fridge, you can safely store them for a couple of days. If you’d like to try making some dairy altenrative recipes, why not visit our recipes section for some ideas and inspiration?