Why 3 Servings a Day is Outdated
David Ludwig, a Harvard professor of Nutrition, noted in a 2013 publication that there is little evidence to support the benefits of milk for building strong bones. Although dairy products are a great source of calcium, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are essential for bone health. Eating 3 servings of dairy per day has been inculcated by the government for over 20 years, so what’s changed?
New research shows that higher milk consumption does not reduce the risk of bone fractures nor is it vital for building strong bones.
Along with calcium, milk is also rich in D-galactose: a substance produced by the body when processing high levels of lactose and other compounds. Experimental evidence in several animal species indicates that chronic exposure to D-galactose is detrimental to health. D-galactose has been shown to accelerate ageing, induce memory loss, neurodegeneration and increases oxidative stress which researchers have found leads to a shortened life-span in both animals and humans.
Oxidative stress is something we always want to keep to a minimum. Essentially, it’s an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract their harmful affects through antioxidant defenses. That’s why foods high in antioxidants like berries, nuts and green leafy vegetables are important for health – actually, most plant foods are rich in antioxidants. Their job is to scavenge free-radicals, reducing the amount of oxidative damage done to our body tissues.
Oxidative stress plays a role in the development of certain diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. It is also a mechanism of age related bone loss and sarcopenia (the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength associated with ageing). Researchers state that the recommendation to increase milk consumption for prevention of fractures therefore is a ‘conceivable contradiction’ because the negative effects of D-galactose outweigh the benefits of the calcium in dairy milk.
What about Cheese & Yoghurt?
It’s important to note that fermented dairy products and cheese may not have as much of a negative impact on health compared to milk. This may be because of their lower to non-existent lactose and galactose content. Yoghurt and soured milk in particular have possible probiotic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and beneficial effects on gut bacteria with higher intakes actually associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.
Should You Keep Eating Dairy Anyway?
Before you start emptying your milk cartons into the sink and heading out to buy extra yoghurt and cheese, remember that there are plenty of other great sources of calcium out there. It’s also good to know that throughout the world, bone fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk compared with those that do. Many populations don’t drink milk for biological reasons (lactose intolerance), lack of availability and cultural preferences.
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Have a lovely weekend, everyone.
Love Stace x