We’ve long been told that dairy is an important part of a healthy diet. Even before the “Got Milk?” campaigns become popular, it was commonly believed that milk helped build strong bones and teeth. Does dairy really “do the body good?” There are strong arguments on both sides of this debate. Whether we should consume dairy is a very common discussion, yet we still don’t really have the definitive answer. So let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons to dairy.
“Milk: It does a body good”
Benefits of Dairy
Dairy is high in calcium and protein, and many milk products are supplemented with Vitamin D. All of these nutrients are important for increasing the strength of the bones and teeth. Many milk products are also supplemented with vitamin A, which is essential for improved immunity and for healthy eyes and skin. Some studies show that dairy assists with the growth of bone, reduces the loss of bone during the ageing process, and reduces the risk of fractures.
The nutrients potassium and magnesium can also be found in dairy products. Studies show that these nutrients can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension.
Some studies have also demonstrated that dairy reduces the risk of Metabolic Syndrome (insulin resistance). Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high glucose levels, and high body fat. People who suffer from metabolic syndrome are at higher risk for disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Downside of Dairy
Many people are allergic or intolerant to dairy because they lack the enzyme necessary to digest lactose (the sugar in dairy). When we’re born, most of us have sufficient amounts of lactase, the enzyme required to break down the sugars in milk. However, between the ages of 2-5, our bodies begin to produce much less of this enzyme. As a result, many people experience digestive problems such as gas, bloating, or diarrhea after consuming dairy products.
Non-organic milk is loaded with growth hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics. In addition, many non-organic, non-free-range dairy facilities are overcrowded, which leads to the development of various strains of bacteria.
Whether organic or not, dairy products are pasteurized, which kills some microorganisms, but also destroys dairy’s natural digesting enzyme (lactase). This is another reason why so many people experience digestive problems and other symptoms after consuming dairy. On that note, some people are able to consume raw dairy products without any symptoms.
Studies have shown that the proteins found in dairy products—casein and whey—can lead to a number of health problems. For example, casein has been linked to the growth of tumors. In addition, higher levels of estradiol have been associated with the consumption of dairy. Estradiol is a hormone that is known to stimulate the growth of tumors as well. There are many aspects of milk and other dairy products that are linked with cancer.
What About Organic
For me this comes to some common sense. For diary to be considered “organic” they require the cows to live in better conditions and eat better food. And I’m sure you’ll agree that when we live better and eat healthier food…we are therefore healthier. Can we think the same for the cows? And so eating food produced by a healthier cow would be healthier right? If this makes sense to you then I’d say that organic is better.
Dairy in Moderation
In moderation, dairy may provide you with a number of health benefits. To reduce your risk of health problems associated with dairy products, choose organic dairy products. If you would like to reduce or stop your consumption of dairy, you will find that there are many alternatives that offer you just as many benefits without the risks. For example, foods high in calcium and that will help you to maintain strong bones and teeth include dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, quinoa, oranges, black strap molasses, beans, dried fruits, and nuts.
Well, really there isn’t one. I’m sure this can be debated back and forth. I guess it comes down to how you feel about dairy. Personally I have just about cut out all dairy from my diet. In the Insanity:The Asylum nutrition guide Shaun T. specifically asks you to omit dairy completely from your diet for 14 days to judge how you feel without it. Shaun T. himself says he doesn’t take any dairy whatsoever. I’d say the final conclusion comes to this, we can consume dairy and be healthy, BUT we don’t have to consume dairy to be healthy.
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