Since childhood, milk is a staple drink for breakfast. Our parents instill us to drink a glass of milk in the morning and before we sleep at night. Why are we encouraged to drink it? It is a rich source of protein. It also contains calcium and vitamin D to keep our bones and teeth strong. Likewise, it has choline, a protein essential for the brain as well as potassium that helps protect the heart.
However, certain studies show that drinking too much milk poses health risks. Our minds are conditioned that milk is a healthy drink but these researches say otherwise.
Most of us drink cow-produced milk. This kind of milk contains hormones that help calves grow. One study estimates that 60 to 80 percent of female hormones we get from our food come from cow’s milk, including the hormone IGF-1. IGF-1 is a hormone that induces cells to multiply. According to the director of the division of cancer prevention at McGill University, this hormone is potentially bad considering that too much cell multiplication is a symptom of cancer.
A Swedish study revealed that women who drink more than two glasses of milk per day are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
In a 2011review published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research discovered that drinking milk did not reduce the risk of fractures in women.
In addition, 2014 study in the Bone Mineral Journal suggested that women who consume a lot of milk may actually have higher fracture risk and a higher risk of death compared to those who drink less. Researchers looked at data from more than 61,000 women and about 45,300 men who answered series of food frequency questionnaires over two decades. The findings show that drinking three or more glasses of milk per day was associated with higher prevalence of hip fracture for women and a greater risk of death from any cause for both men and women compared to those who had less consumption of milk (one glass per day).
The problem lies as to how many of the hormones found in milk can enter the body as digestion breaks some of them. It is unclear whether concerns raised about milk apply to other dairy products.
Meanwhile, researchers are checking the possibilities that milk drinkers may do other things that may affect or put them at increased risk for cancer or other aforementioned diseases. Hence, they could not make a conclusion that milk per se is the main cause of these health issues.
Because of that, health experts recommend the public to drink one to two glasses of milk a day and no more than that. For adults, consume skim milk as it contains fewer hormones than cow’s milk. Experts emphasize that you don’t need to skip milk. Drink it based on the allowed consumption required. As said earlier, milk is rich in calcium and protein so you cannot really discount the goodness the milk can offer.
Lactose intolerant cannot endure milk in their bodies. But no need to worry. If they cannot get the nutritional values that milk can offer, they can obtain them from other sources like dark leafy green vegetables, tofu and almonds. Get vitamin D from salmon, whole eggs and fortified orange juice.
You can also try other milk alternatives.
Here are some known milk alternatives and the pros and cons of consuming them.
- Almond milk is low in fat and calories yet high in calcium, vitamin E and sugar.
- Soymilk is also a good option. Drinking soy is seen to help halt heart disease. The downside is that too much of soy may adversely affect fertility.
- If you are prone to allergy, rice milk is your best bet, as it has no lactose, soy and nuts. It is a light and super thin version of cow’s milk so you can add them when you eat oatmeal or cereals.
- Camel milk is a milk alternative that delivers 10 times more iron and three times more vitamin C. You can use this for sauces and batters.
Just a friendly reminder, always check the sugar content of your milk as some milk alternatives contain sweeteners. If you want to stay healthy, go for fat-free and unsweetened ones.