MILK MYTHS BUSTED
Myth: Raw Milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk
Reality: Some people believe that raw milk is better because it tastes better and contains higher levels of nutrients than processed milk. While taste is an individualistic phenomenon, nutrition needs to be viewed holistically and scientifically.
In reality, raw milk can naturally carry disease causing bacteria which can cause serious illness and even death. Young children, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women are specifically susceptible to infections from raw milk.1
Thus, theoretically, raw milk may appear to contain slightly higher amount of certain nutrients (e.g. certain vitamins), but consuming it may not necessarily be a wise choice.
Myth: People with lactose intolerance need to avoid all milk and milk products
Reality: Lactose intolerance is the inability of the person to digest lactose (milk sugar). However, lactose intolerant people can comfortably consume certain dairy products. The products like certain cheeses and fermented products have low lactose contents due to its breakdown by starter culture bacteria during fermentation. Aged cheeses are also low in lactose. Further many people with lactose intolerance can drink up to 1 cup (around 240 ml) of milk daily without any problem.2 Thus, most people with lactose intolerance can enjoy milk and milk products with a little care on their part.
Myth: Consuming dairy products can lead to weight gain
Reality: Weight gain occurs when anyone consumes more calories than required. Contradictory to the above myth, scientific evidence shows beneficial role of milk and milk products in adult weight management with energy reduced diet. Research shows that consumption of 3 to 4 servings a day of dairy foods (high in calcium and good source of protein) in an energy reduced diet may help obese and overweight adults.2
Myth: Consuming dairy foods can increase the risk of heart disease
Reality: There is no scientific evidence that consuming milk or other dairy foods leads to heart disease. On the other hand, milk fat contains several components like conjugated linoleic acid and sphingolipids that might protect against heart disease.2
Myth: Milk causes asthma
Reality: There is no scientific data that supports that consuming dairy foods makes a person asthmatic. According to investigations, milk consumption does not aggravate symptoms of asthma.3
Myth: Drinking milk can cause kidney stones
Reality: Dietary calcium, including calcium from milk, actually protects against the formation of kidney stones. On the other hand, calcium taken as supplements appears to increase the risk of kidney stone formation.4, 5
Myth: Milk contains some growth hormones, so drinking milk causes early puberty
Reality: There is no scientific evidence that drinking milk causes early puberty. Milk has always contained natural bovine growth hormones in very small amounts. 90% of these hormones are destroyed with pasteurization. The remaining trace amounts are broken down into inactive fragments in the gut.6
Myth: Powdered milk is unhealthy
Reality: Milk powder contains most of the important nutrients such as amino acids, minerals and vitamins of milk. The nutritional value may slightly vary when compared with milk, but powdered milk has a longer shelf life and is the best choice in the times of low availability of milk.
1. American Academy of Pediatrics Advises Pregnant Women and Children Not to Consume Raw Milk Products. Accessed on 07.01.2015 at: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Advises-Pregnant-Women-and-Children-Not-to-Consume-Raw-Milk-Products.aspx#sthash.3EUD20L6.dpuf.
2. Miller GD, Jarvis JK, McBean (2000). Handbook of Dairy Foods and Nutrition. 2nd Edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
3. Wuthrich B, Schmid A, Walther B, Sieber R (2005). Milk consumption does not lead to mucus production or occurrence of Asthma. J Am Coll Nutr, 24 (6): 547S-555S.
4. Curhan GC, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ (1993). A Prospective Study of Dietary Calcium and Other Nutrients and the Risk of Symptomatic Kidney Stones. N Engl J Med, 328: 833-838.
5. Curhan GC, Willett WC, Speizer FE, Spiegelman D, Stampfer MJ (1997). Comparison of dietary calcium with supplemental calcium and other nutrients as factors affecting the risk for kidney stones in women. Ann Intern Med, 126(7): 497-504.
6. Edelstein S (2013). Food Science: An Ecological Approach. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, Burlington, MA. pp. 219-252.