With “What the health” spitting science in the face, we feel that Instagram needs an update on the ACTUAL SCIENCE behind all the negative claims made about milk products. We will leave the ethical side of cutting dairy from your diet to you as this is nothing we can take a stand on using studies. This is STRICTLY a breakdown of dairy’s effect on HEALTH.
Two Things You Need to Know About Using Studies to Draw Conclusions:
- What the Health selects specific observational studies which find negative “links” between dairy and various diseases. This means we don’t know if milk is CAUSING the diseases or if milk drinkers also have other unhealthy habits which are the ACTUAL causes of disease.
- If you want the truth you need to look at ALL available studies (using a so called “Systematic Review”). This includes experimental studies which don’t just prove “links” but also cause.
What You Need to Know When it Comes to Dairy Products and Health:
- Dairy products REDUCE the risk of OBESITY (1, 2) and HEART DISEASE (6)
- MILK CONSUMPTION does NOT seem to affect BODY COMPOSITION (3, 4)
- Dairy, particularly yoghurt, seems to REDUCE the risk of TYPE 2 DIABETES (5)
- When it comes to death from CANCER IN GENERAL, risk is UNAFFECTED (10). COLON CANCER (7) and BREAST CANCER (8) risk DECREASE while PROSTATE CANCER risk may INCREASE (9)
- As for the BONE HEALTH, milk is NEITHER BENEFICIAL NOR HARMFUL in risk for fractures. Evidence for if calcium helps prevent fractures is weak. (11)
- Milk does NOT increase INFLAMMATION in the body. (12)
What does all this mean for your health? If we define health as the risk of DEATH, dairy products have NO IMPACT (13, 14).
Dairy doesn’t either seem to cause any meaningful suffering in terms of disease (1-13). This means that the health benefits of milk balance out the negative effects.
Who should avoid diary products?
The only reason to avoid dairy products is if you are lactose intolerant or have a milk protein allergy. If you are lactose intolerant, the problems you can experience include loose stool, gasses and bloating after consumption of milk products. The diagnosis lactose intolerance is made by going lactose free for 2 weeks and then drinking a large glass of regular milk to see if stomach problems return. In that case you should go lactose free, but symptoms vary and are dose dependent, meaning you might still be able to have some lactose in your diet if symptoms aren’t extreme.
Milk protein allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance. When allergic reactions can be mild or severe and life threatening, but the diagnosis is usually made at a young age. In that case any food with milk protein should be avoided, including lactose free products. Consult with your doctor if you are unsure of if you are allergic to milk protein or lactose intolerant.
Let us know if you have any questions about this post or if you have additional systematic reviews which we have missed.