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11 Things you should know about milk

Updated on March 6, 2016

These days we're told not eat or drink so many things. Milk has had a bad press for a while now, there are myths like milk creates mucous. Unpasteurised or raw milk should not be consumed. There is no scientific basis for milk creating mucous.

Milk has been seen as a key source of minerals, especially calcium. Health experts would say it should be taken alongside cheese and yoghurt as part of a balanced diet.

These myths come from inaccurate information, causing an impact on milk and health. Going along with myths and changing your milk intake may be damaging to your health.

You should never drink raw or unpasteurised milk.

1. Health Conditions

Many people believe that by restricting their dairy intake they will lose weight. They think that saturated fats associated with high cholesterol levels are to blame. Surprisingly dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurt and milk are not a threat if they are eaten in moderation.

Research information includes:

  • Type 2 Diabetes - A study of 10 year's of 3,000 overweight adults showed that instead of eating carbohydrates and refined sugars, drinking milk would protect young adults from developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Blood Pressure - Research from a study taken in the US showed that drinking milk with a high intake of fruit's and vegetables lowered blood pressure more than eating fruit and vegetables alone.
  • Colorectal Cancer - Dietary guideline from Australia suggest people should eat more than one dairy product a day thus reducing the risk of colon cancer.

2. Osteoporosis

Removing milk and milk product's from a diet will lead to an inadequate calcium intake. For women over the age of 50 this is a major concern. They require a high level of calcium. Calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis.

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3. Nutrients

Milk has a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate, including other nutrient's such as:

  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamins A and B12
  • Phosphorus
  • Riboflavin

4. Flavoured Milk

Children require milk as a vital source of nutrients. Put a level teaspoon of chocolate powder in a glass of milk. This is a healthier option than sugar sweetened or soft drinks, cordials, fruit drinks and flavoured water.

If you do choose to give your child flavoured milk it should be given in moderation.

Many children drink less milk as they approach adolescence. Encourage them to drink a reduced fat flavoured milk drink instead of soft drinks.

It goes without saying water and milk are the best drinks for adolescents and children.

5. Tooth Decay

Milk along with milk product's protect your teeth against decay. By eating cheese and other products this will:

  • Decrease tooth decay
  • Decrease plaque formation
  • Stimulate saliva flow
  • Reduces oral acidity (tooth decay)

6. Different Kind's of Pasteurised Milk

Many types of milk on the supermarket shelf include:

  • UHT (ultra high temperature-treated) milk - Treated with high levels of heat so milk can be stored for longer.
  • Flavoured - Can be full cream or reduced fat. Contains a lot of sugar.
  • Calcium enriched - 250 ml glass contains 408-500 mg of calcium.
  • Skimmed Milk - Maximum 0.15% fat. Some brands of reduced fat or skimmed milk have vitamins A and D added to replace the naturally occurring vitamins that are removed in the process of milk being skimmed.
  • Reduced Fat - Half as much fat as full cream. Children over the age of 2 can drink reduced fat milk.
  • Full cream - Contains about 4% fat. For children up to the age of 2 year's old, full cream is recommended.

7. Unpasteurised

You'll find that most milk is pasteurised (heat treated and cooled). Pasteurised milk has the bacteria killed off, it also reduces the vitamins found naturally in milk. Unpasteurised should never be drunk as it will increase your risk of gastroinstestinal illness as a result pathogens (bugs and bacteria) found in untreated milk.

8. Mucous

Many people believe that drinking milk encourages nasal stuffiness. There is no scientific evidence to prove this.

9. Milk vs Goat's Milk

People may switch to goat's milk because of the perceived sensitivities to cow's milk. Allergic reactions are due to more than one thing. Goat's milk proteins are closely related to cow's milk, so replacing one with another won't make a lot of difference. Allergies are more common in children. Over time most children will grow out of their allergy and grow a tolerance towards milk.

10. Lactose Intolerance

Mammals including human's have naturally occurring lactose in their milk. An enzyme in the small intestine normally breaks it down to be absorbed into the blood stream. Not everyone produces enough lactose, this causes bloating, diarrhoea and pain.

It can develop later in life or you can be born lactose intolerant. See your doctor if you think you may be lactose intolerant.

If you suffer from lactose intolerance don't give up milk products completely.

On the whole most people can tolerate a small amount of lactose, this can be found in:

  • 3/4 of a cup of unripened cheese such as ricotta or cottage cheese.
  • 3/4 cup of yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup of milk

11. Dairy Foods Containing Less Lactose

Foods containing less lactose for lactose intolerant people are:

  • Heated products such as evaporated milk
  • Fermented milk products like yoghurt, mature cheese (mozarella, feta and cheddar) butter

Stuff to Remember

  • Flavoured milk (ie chocolate added to a glass of milk) should be drunk instead of soft drinks.
  • Most lactose intolerant people can tolerate small amounts of milk.
  • There's a great choice of modified milk available.
  • Milk is an excellent source of natural vitamins and nutrients.

© 2015 Helen Bolam


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    • Ragini Vashya profile image

      Ragini Vashya 2 years ago

      I know...I've read so many articles against milk, but I can't imagine my diet without it. Cheese, butter and yogurt is part of our daily diet. And I lost most of my post pregnancy fat by high skim milk diet!