We’ve been drinking milk for years and never had any problems, right? In fact, research suggests we’ve been drinking the white stuff for at least 6,000 years and look where we are now. We’re living longer than ever, we’re bigger, faster & stronger than ever, and we’re advancing as a species at an incredible rate. So if it isn’t broke, why try and fix it? Well, throat doctors used to recommend smoking and cocaine used to be used as “pep pills” by the military. The truth is, to evolve, sometimes we have to admit that what we’ve been doing hasn’t always been to our benefit. In fact, it’s the admission of our mistakes that have allowed us to advance as a species, which brings us back to dairy. Just because we’ve always drunk milk doesn’t necessarily mean we should be. So let’s take a look at whether dairy is bad for us and how the symptoms of lactose intolerance could hold the answer.
Dairy: Is It Normal To Drink Milk?
The fact of the matter is that we’re the only mammal species that drinks milk directly from other species. This shows that, generally, our consumption of cows milk is not the norm in the animal kingdom. Does this make it wrong? Well, not exactly. There are benefits to consuming dairy:
- Calcium – Dairy contains calcium, which is an essential component in the structure of bones and teeth.
- Protein – An essential macronutrient that is necessary for several vital bodily functions, including cell growth and repair.
- Weight Management – Several studies have shown that milk consumption is linked with a lower risk of obesity.
Great, pass the milk, right? Well, not necessarily. There are some cons to drinking milk:
- Increased fracture risk – Yep. You read that right. Research has found that drinking three or more glasses of milk a day saw a rise in bone fractures in females.
- Cancer – Drinking too much milk can increase your risk of certain types of cancer, including ovarian.
- Acne – Studies have shown an increase in instances of acne when dairy consumption is higher.
So there are arguments both for and against drinking milk. There is also something else to consider…
Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance
You may have heard adverts refer to “lactose-free” alternative products; these are developed to help people who have identified that they’re living with something called lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance occurs where your body is unable to produce sufficient amounts of the enzyme “lactase” to be able to break down lactose (which is the sugar found in milk). Lactose intolerance can have significant adverse effects on your body. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Bloated Stomach – A bloated stomach is one of the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance. If you get a bloated stomach whenever you consume a dairy product, you’re likely experiencing lactose intolerance. However, a bloated stomach can be a side effect of the consumption of many different food intolerances. Taking a food intolerance test can help you identify whether your bloated stomach is caused by lactose intolerance.
- Flatulence – It kind of makes sense that, when your stomach is bloated by trapped air, flatulence is one of the common symptoms of lactose intolerance. The gases which are produced during the difficult digestive process linger in the stomach until they are expelled, most often with flatulence.
- Diarrhea – In your body’s efforts to keep you feeling healthy and minimizing your exposure to foods that could cause you trouble down the line, it will often attempt to remove that food as soon as possible. The fastest way is to draw water into the digestive system from cells, where it mixes with feces to speed up the digestive process. Regular bouts of diarrhea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms of lactose intolerance, you should take an intolerance test to determine whether lactose is the culprit.
So, Is Dairy Bad For You?
The (potentially unsatisfying) answer is; maybe. There are both pros and cons to consuming milk. It is down to the individual to decide whether they feel the pros outweigh the cons. Experiencing symptoms of lactose intolerance would point towards dairy being something you should consider removing from your diet, but you should take an intolerance test to make sure.