I hear the most interesting things about milk all the time. I have friends that don’t drink milk for various reason. I wanted to set the record straight, and provide some information about milk that is both scientifically based AND information that I share with my patients as a Registered Dietitian. I think milk can be a good part of a healthy well balanced diet and here is why…
1. Pasteurization: Pasteurization Is the process of heating a liquid for a period of time then re-cooling. This process does not kill all organisms, but it does reduce the number. It has helped reduce spread of E. coli and Salmonella which can be present in raw milk.
2. Hormones: The hormone bovine somatotropin is naturally found in cows and stimulates milk production. A synthetic version of this hormone has been created and can be used to increase a cow’s milk production. The pasteurization process destroys a lot of this hormone. Once milk has been pasteurized milk from cows with the synthetic version of the milk hormone is the same as milk from cows without it. In addition our digestive tract breaks down any hormones ingested. This is why people with diabetes can’t take insulin as a pill. If insulin was swallowed it would be broken down and would become completely useless. Insulin is injected so that it can be utilized by the body. The same process occurs with any natural or synthetic bovine somatotropin that is in milk.
3. Lactose intolerance: One interesting fact about lactose intolerance is that often people can tolerate yogurt and cheese. They contain only small amounts of lactose. For people that can have yogurt and cheese this is a great way to continue to get foods from the dairy group which are high in protein, calcium, vit D, and more.
4. Soy Milk vs Cow’s Milk: Soy milk is naturally lower in Calcium than cow’s milk, however extra Calcium is often added to soy milk. Soy milk is a great alternative for those that can’t tolerate other types of milk, however, calcium is better absorbed from cow’s milk.
5. Organic Milk. Organic milk, also known as raw milk, must follow specific guidelines. For milk to be classified as organic cow’s must be fed organic feed with no animal or poultry products, no synthetic hormones or antibiotics. They must be able to pasture during all grazing seasons. Nutritionally there is no difference between milk and organic milk. The same amount of protein, carbohydrate, fat, calcium, etc is found in both.
6. Milk and Mucus: Milk thickens saliva, but it doesn’t increase mucus production. There is no reason to decrease milk intake because of asthma or a cold. It will not aggravate or make is worse.
7. Antibiotics in Milk: When antibiotics are used to treat animals there is concern that there will be increased drug resistant bacteria. I personally am very concerned with all over prescription of antibiotics. I am concerned that antibiotic use is abused in livestock, pets, and people. Whether regular or organic, milk is tested regularly for antibiotics and pesticides with very strict standards.
8. Good source of Nutrients: Milk is a great source of many essential nutrients: Calcium, Protein, Magnesium, Potassium, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin D.