We are constantly bombarded with the message that we ought to drink milk to ensure strong healthy bones. We are told that milk is a vital part of a balanced diet by governments throughout the Western World, who publish guidelines recommending that we consume 3 or more glasses per day in order to prevent osteoporosis.
It is correct that our bodies require calcium for many important functions; building strong teeth and bones, and helping the blood to clot among them. It is also true that milk contains many essential nutrients including calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. But is it as simple as that?
This article will examine the health concerns that have been linked to dairy products and suggests some alternative foods to build strong bones.
Many people are lactose intolerant to some degree, meaning that they struggle to digest the sugars present in milk and suffer from symptoms including bloating, cramping and gas. Dairy products are also high in saturated fat, which is known to contribute as a risk factor for heart disease.
A study published in October 2014 in The British Medical Journal has taken these worries a step further, associating milk consumption with increased fractures and even higher mortality rates.
It was conducted across 3 counties in Sweden, where 2 community based cohorts were used, a group of more than 45,000 men aged 45-79 and a group of more than 60,000 women aged 39-74.
Milk is the main dietary source of ‘D-galactose’, which is the result of lactose digestion by the enzymes in our body. It had been shown that mild exposure to D-galactose appeared to promote ageing in animals.
“Even a low dose of D-galactose induces changes that resemble natural ageing in animals, including shortened life span caused by oxidative stress damage, chronic inflammation, neurodegeneration, decreased immune response, and gene transcriptional changes.”
The Swedish study therefore hypothesised that the high content of lactose in milk may increase oxidative stress and inflammation within the human body, which would in turn affect the risk of mortality and fracture.
Copyright © 2002-2013. All rights reserved