Chances are the answer to this popular slogan is yes (and plenty of it). Ever since you were a little kid, did your mom tell you to drink cow’s milk to help you grow strong bones and teeth? Did she tell you it’s a great source of calcium and vitamin D? While many of us grew up sporting milk mustaches, today, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding dairy. While U.S. health authorities still recommend people drink three glasses of milk a day, researchers are saying there’s greater benefit in ditching the creamy liquid altogether. To quote the famous Dr. Mark Hyman: “Dairy is nature’s perfect food — but only if you’re a calf.”
1) You’ll Strengthen Your Bones
Wait … what? While many people were raised thinking their bones would crumble if they didn’t drink enough milk, many researchers believe cutting the popular drink out of your diet could actually help to improve bone health.
According to a 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers who followed more than 100,000 people in Sweden over a period of 20 to 30 years found milk drinkers suffered more overall bone fractures and hip fractures.
Additionally, researchers in a 12-year Harvard study, who followed 77,761 women nurses, found no evidence that drinking milk decreases a person’s risk of bone fractures. In fact, they wrote:
“Women consuming greater amounts of calcium from dairy foods had significantly increased risks of hip fracture, while no increase in fracture risk was observed for the same level of calcium from nondairy sources.”
Some researchers also believe milk consumption has no benefit for people with osteoporosis, a progressive disease in which bones deteriorate over time. In fact, some think milk may actually contribute to the disease. In a review of 34 studies done in 16 different countries, researchers at Yale University found countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis (including the United States and England), also consume the highest amount of dairy products. While this certainly isn’t enough evidence to definitively link dairy consumption to osteoporosis, it isn’t something that should be ignored either.
So what’s the deal? Why isn’t dairy great for our bones like we once thought?
It may have something to do with the way dairy affects your body’s pH. If you think back to science class, you’ll remember that when you pour milk on top of a pH strip that it’s a base versus an acid. While that’s true, in the body, dairy has an acidic effect. When the body becomes too acidic, health suffers. So to balance out pH levels, your body turns to its natural acid blocker — calcium. It will draw calcium from your bones to fight the acid and return your body’s pH levels to a balanced state. So in other words, dairy actually takes calcium from your body.
2) Your Digestion May Improve
Around 75 percent of the world’s population can’t properly digest milk or other dairy products. It’s called lactose intolerance. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, virtually all infants and young children have lactase enzymes that split lactose into glucose and galactose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. However, the majority of people lose their lactase enzymes after weaning. For people who lack those enzymes, they may experience gas, bloating, cramps, and diarrhea after drinking milk.
3) Your Skin Will Clear Up
Pimples, red blotches, and scars … oh my! Today, around 60 million Americans suffer from acne. It’s pretty fair to say that most people would try just about anything to get rid of their pimples. Often times, people try different cleansers and creams, hoping they will zap their zits. While they can be helpful, it’s important to remember that a healthy outside starts from the inside.
Today, researchers are linking both dairy and sugar consumption with acne. Various studies found that consuming cow’s milk increased both the number of people who got acne and its severity. But if you think dairy is linked to acne because of its high fat content, think again. In fact, studies have shown people who drink skim milk suffer more breakouts than those who drink whole full-fat milk.
The problem partly lies in milk’s hormones. Remember, cows have to either be pregnant or lactating to produce milk. During this time, they are full of hormones. That’s why there really is no such thing as hormone-free milk. Did you know there are about 60 hormones in your average glass of milk (even organic, raw, and bovine growth hormone-free milk)?
Additionally, drinking a glass of milk can spike insulin levels 300 percent, which raises the glycemic index and can lead to breakouts. I used the word “lactose” earlier. Lactose is milk sugar and can be extremely problematic for many people since it not only raises blood sugar levels, but many have allergic reactions to it.
A third reason milk can sabotage your complexion is because it causes inflammation. Inflammation of the skin is called Dermatitis and can lead to rashes, red patches, bumps, and more. For healthy, glowing skin, try to fill your diet with anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, broccoli, blueberries, and salmon (the list goes on). There are also a number of herbs and spices that fight inflammation.
4) You May Lower Your Risk For Certain Cancers
Certain foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, have been known to fight cancer cells. Other foods, like sugar, have been known to feed cancer cells. Today, there have been many studies done on the relationship between dairy consumption and cancer. As of now, the results are mixed. However, there are certain types of cancers that researchers believe dairy can contribute to. For example, most large studies link high dairy consumption with increased risk of prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer among men in the United States.
Studies also show if you drank milk as a child, your risk may be greater. One study looked at 8,894 men, born between 1907 and 1935. Researchers found the men who drank large amounts of milk early in life had an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer as adults.
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