Rethink Your Choices this 2021: Is Dairy Milk Good for You?
Ever since we were young, we’re led to believe that drinking cow’s milk makes us strong. We’ve been bombarded with advertisements telling us that cow’s milk delivers calcium, protein, and vitamins, but contrary to popular belief, there may be a downside to dairy that may hurt us more than help. As moms, it’s time to educate ourselves on the facts. Is cow’s milk really safe for our family?
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
Bloating, kabag, stomach cramps, indigestion, diarrhea – these are the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance. If you experience this after consuming milk, don’t take it lightly. It may be bearable while you’re young, but the long-term implications may take a toll on your health.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. Normally, bodies need the enzyme lactase to breakdown lactose into simple sugars that can easily be absorbed by our body. When a person is lactose intolerant, the body cannot produce lactase. In effect, the lactose remains in the gut and interacts with bacteria, forming gases that cause the discomfort in your stomach and eventually, the sudden rush to the toilet.
Lactose intolerance may be common but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. In fact, 50% of Filipinos have it but many are not aware that it can lead to more health concerns. Constant exposure to its symptoms causes distress in the digestive system. Over time, it can lead to a leaky gut, which can compromise your body’s immunity and ability to absorb nutrition. If you’re experiencing symptoms, that’s your body telling you to stop. Be kind to your body and start cutting back on the dairy.
FATS WE DON’T REALIZE
One major downside of whole cow’s milk is the high saturated fat it contains, which many of us are consuming too much of. Milk along with other dairy products – including cheese, ice cream, butter and yogurt – contain this artery-clogging fat which poses serious health risks if consumed in excess. Studies have shown that a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes. Even for kids, consuming too much saturated fat at a young age would expose them to higher risk from these diseases later in life.
Milk may be widely advertised as a potent source of nutrients, but don’t rely on it to deliver all your nutritional needs. More so if your family has a history of heart disease, it might probably be time to eliminate dairy altogether.
HORMONES AND BREAKOUTS
In the recent years, it’s been a common practice in the dairy industry to use growth hormones and antibiotics in cows for increased milk production. Unfortunately, this comes with a price. Each time you consume a glass of cow’s milk, you also take in these hormones which may be too much for your body to absorb. These hormones flow through our bloodstream and could alter our body’s insulin levels causing hormonal imbalance. Suffering from acne breakouts, mood swings and sluggishness? Consider cutting back on cow’s milk which may have caused your hormones to go out of whack.
Aside from the immediate effects of dairy, studies also show that lowering dairy consumption decreases the risk of hormone related cancers, such as breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. With this in mind, isn’t that enough reason to cut back on dairy?
Not only is dairy milk counterproductive for the body. It also encourages the cruel cycle of animal and environmental abuse.
Like humans, cows can only produce milk for their offspring. In order for the dairy industry to increase the production of milk, cows are forcefully impregnated every year and separated from their calf after birth to conserve its milk for human consumption. Milk is then harvested by hooking up the cows in machines while confined in small, crowded cubicles. As for the male calves, they are usually raised for 1-2 years before they can be slaughtered and sold as meat.
Aside from the controversial animal cruelty that the dairy industry poses, there are also environmental implications that are rarely discussed. Did you know that dairy milk requires 3x the greenhouse gases to produce compared to plant-based milk? The negative impact of the dairy industry on our planet should already be a major motivation to quit consuming animal milk.
GO FOR PLANT-BASED MILK
Cow’s milk may be widely advertised as a potent source of nutrients, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest source of nutrients. Fortunately, there are a lot of plant-based milk alternatives that are available, affordable and safe for you and the whole family. You’ll be surprised that even your kids will love it – just give it a try! Choose from soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, rice milk, or oat milk, among others. All these have their own advantages and many brands offer just as much nutrition without you noticing that it’s dairy free.
Among all the dairy milk alternatives, the closest one in terms of taste, mouthfeel and nutritional value is soymilk. It offers the same creaminess and protein content as cow’s milk, yet it’s lower in calories and doesn’t contain saturated fat. Soymilk is also more nutrient-dense because aside from offering the same vitamins and minerals as dairy, it also contains Omega 3,6,9 fatty acids which support brain and heart health. In terms of practicality, it’s also the most affordable and available among all the alternatives which makes it an easy switch for those who want to ditch dairy for good.
RETHINK YOUR MILK
Whichever milk you decide, remember that the key to achieving optimum health is by eating a balanced diet. There’s no specific food or drink that can deliver all the nutrients that your body needs, so don’t rely on milk alone. It’s best to be more mindful in choosing what will truly nourish you. Listen to your body, when it’s telling you to cut back on the excess. Choose plant-based options as much as possible and cut back on cow’s milk because chances are, you’re consuming more dairy than your body can take.
ALSO READ: How I raised my lactose intolerant daughter