Dairy is one of those areas of nutrition that is talked about a lot, yet, some of the information associated with milk products can be rather misleading. Milk products are very widely used in fitness whether in milkshakes, easy breakfast recipes or on-the-go snacks. Sometimes, however, we do not fully understand the impact that excessive dairy consumption can have on our health and for that reason, I wanted to expand a little bit on the health benefits of limiting dairy consumption or going dairy free. Let me talk about a few instances where the general perception of milk products consumption clashes with scientific studies.
Bone Health & Lactose
Every day we are reminded that milk equals calcium which equals strong bones, white teeth, and nutritious body. However, as science expands on the subject of dairy consumption and more studies are conducted on the impact of milk on the human body, one trend is becoming evident. One 12-year long study among over 77,000 women aged 34 through to 59 examined the differences between higher consumption of dairy products (two or more glasses per day) and its effects on osteoporosis and bone fractures in comparison to people consuming nearly no dairy at all (one glass per week). The study found no evidence of reduced bone fractures among the people consuming larger amounts of dairy.
My perception of dairy has always been in favor of bone supporting properties, however, certain conclusions about dairy consumption and its effects can be made from studies like the one just mentioned. The scientific evidence among many other studies seems to point out the fact that dairy consumption in a regular diet does not result in any significant benefit in terms of bone health or improved skeletal condition in general.
Another study done by the Nation Institutes of Health (NIH) examined the reasons for lactose intolerance among people and researched the effect of calcium on the human body. The results were quite interesting as well as those of the previous study. Lactose intolerance is caused by the decreased ability of lactose digestion in the digestive tract. The malabsorption is mainly caused due to deficiencies in the levels of the enzyme lactase. Lactase helps break down lactose found in dairy products and such malfunction in the intestines can result in your body pretty much not accepting dairy as a food option. The study noted that many people do not necessarily have lactose intolerance and in many cases, the individuals simply fail to consume enough calcium from their diets. However, lactose intolerance has been shown to cause bloating, stomach pains, and digestive issues.
Benefits Of Dairy Exclusion
Evidence seems to point out that dairy consumption may have many negative consequences, especially among people with a decreased ability to digest the sugar from milk – lactose.
One of the benefits of going dairy-free is definitely not having to worry about lactose intolerance and the negative effects associated with its consumption. You may be “missing out” on the protein, fats, and silky smooth texture of a protein shake made with whole milk after a gym session, but you may be doing your body (and your gut) a favor. As shown in the study done by NIH, bloating is one of the lesser evils as a result of lactose intolerance. By excluding dairy from your diet you can be sure that your body will not have negative reactions to lactose and you may feel less constipated, experience less stomach and digestive issues and feel much lighter.
Many people view milk products as the only food source of a strong calcium content. In fact, many plant-based sources of foods offer much larger quantities of calcium than milk or dairy products. In addition, plant-based sources rich in calcium such as leafy greens, romaine lettuce or broccoli can add up to a recommended daily calcium intake within a couple of meals. Tofu, collard greens, or bok choy are amazing calcium-packed foods that offer not only high levels of calcium but also many other health benefits such as vitamins and minerals, fiber, or other phytochemicals that can positively impact your health.
The scientific evidence is unfortunately not in favor of high dairy consumption and many studies are showing the negative and detrimental effects of dairy consumption on the human body. Milk and dairy products are widely used in terms of nutrition among many of us on a daily basis and such evidence may give us something to think about. Maybe the best thing for long term health is not to indulge in a tub of yogurt after every meal or to drink a gallon of milk between every grocery store trip.
Turning into wholesome vegetables and other sources of nutrition to get the appropriate levels of calcium may be the smarter move in terms of health and overall wellness. Going dairy free is definitely not a bad move, given the fact that you will increase the consumption of other calcium-dense foods to support the maintenance of bones and teeth and overall keeping your skeletal system in a good shape!