by Caroline O’Connor, RD, CPT, FHC
I know, shame on me! I’m a dietitian and I drink cow’s milk? Unheard of.
2015 me thought it was super cool to pull up at Starbucks with a long, obscure recipe that was a ‘healthier, low calorie’ option.
“Hi, can I get a grande iced caffe americano with unsweetened almond milk, ½ packet of stevia and just a tiny splash of your sugar free vanilla syrup? Oh and light on the ice please.”
2021 me says GIVE ME THE REAL STUFF! So, let’s chat about why I’m not scared of dairy and why you shouldn’t be either!
Reason #1: Contrary to popular belief, dairy has been shown to be Anti-inflammatory.
Let’s clarify. If you have a food allergy, or lactose intolerance then by all means, please skip the milk. You may also need to eliminate/reduce dairy with underlying conditions like autoimmune.
If that’s not you, then listen up. A meta-analysis of 52 dairy studies found consumption of dairy was associated with anti-inflammatory activity. One condition to this (still being studied) is that high-fat dairy might be pro-inflammatory due to saturated fat content. However, this is a controversial topic because there are also studies indicating the important role of saturated fats in the strength of our cell membranes.
Reason #2: Milk is a highly bioavailable source for Calcium, Iodine, Vitamin D, B2 & B12.
Molecules specific to dairy (lactose, casein, whey proteins) are actually what help with high nutrient absorption. For example, intestinal absorption of calcium from dairy is similar to vegetables, but the dairy calcium has higher retention in body tissues. We need to absorb AND store our nutrients for later use.
Reason #3: It’s nature’s Gatorade.
I know, I’m crazy!!!
Hear me out. Post-workout muscles need to replenish and repair. They’ve used up muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) and are ready to re-stock for next time.
Milk has lactose, a highly absorbable carbohydrate. To be clear, lactose is a sugar (ever wondered why sports drinks have so much sugar?) It helps TRANSPORT nutrients into the cell. Without it, electrolytes have a hard time unlocking the door to your cells.
Milk has a naturally occurring sugar to help with transport, it has all your electrolytes AND (bonus!) it has protein.
Drink your milk and feel good about it. ☺
If you’re concerned about reactivity to dairy, an MRT food reactivity test might be in your future. See https://nutritiondynamic.com/products/mrt-food-sensativity-test?_pos=1&_sid=2b0a3de8d&_ss=r for more information.
Dairy products and inflammation: A review of the clinical evidence. Alessandra Bordoni, Francesca Danesi, Dominique Dardevet, Didier Dupont, Aida S. Fernandez, Doreen Gille, Claudia Nunes dos Santos, Paula Pinto, Roberta Re, Didier Rémond, Danit R. Shahar & Guy Vergères (2017) Dairy products and inflammation: A review of the clinical evidence, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 57:12, 2497-2525, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2014.967385
Bioavailability of Micronutrients From Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods: Zooming in on Dairy, Vegetables, and Fruits. Melse-Boonstra A (2020) Bioavailability of Micronutrients From Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods: Zooming in on Dairy, Vegetables, and Fruits. Front. Nutr. 7:101. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2020.00101
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