World Milk Day: Myths about this dairy beverage that need to be debunked



  • Being observed since 1 June 2001, World Milk Day is an international day established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to recognize the importance of milk as a global food.
  • Milk has been an essential part of the human diet for thousands of years. Domestication of cattle and agricultural practices gave mankind the ability to produce food to sustain and not depend purely on what nature held in its palms.
  • But, over the centuries, the importance of milk in the diet has acquired mythical proportions. Several myths have been built around the drink that is, no doubt, enriching, but certainly not the only source of vitamins and energy for us.

    5 milk myths that need to be debunked right away:

    Milk is essential to build strong bones: 
  • Most of us grew up believing that milk is important for children to build strong bones and for the elderly to prevent osteoporosis. But milk, a good source of calcium, isn’t necessarily the most critical factor for bone health, said Stanford University nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner, the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor and a professor of medicine.
  • “There are countries like Japan and India where the population is predominantly lactose-intolerant, where milk intake is low and hip fracture rates are also low. But many of those cultures do more weight-bearing activities than Americans,” he said. “
  • It’s better to be physically active than drink milk as a way to strengthen your bones.” Studies have shown that drinking milk can improve your bone density, but whether it helps prevent bone fractures is debatable, he added.
    Milk is the best source of Calcium: 
  • According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, calcium is important, but milk isn’t the only, or even best, source. Getting enough calcium from childhood through adulthood helps build bones up and then helps slow the loss of bone as we age.
  • It’s not clear, though, that we need as much calcium as is generally recommended, and it’s also not clear that dairy products are really the best source of calcium for most people. While calcium and dairy can lower the risk of osteoporosis and colon cancer, high intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer. Plus, dairy products can be high in saturated fat as well as retinol (vitamin A), which at high levels can paradoxically weaken bones.
  • According to the National Institute of Nutrition in India, 100 ml of milk contains 125mg of calcium while 100 grams of ragi contains a whopping 344mg of calcium. It is also believed that after the age of 3 our bodies lose the ability to break down the milk proteins (casein) which inhibits the absorption of calcium from milk.
    Raw milk is better, pasteurised milk is bad as it kills healthy bacteria:
  • Raw milk proponents argue that pasteurisation kills off important healthy bacteria, but Stanford University nutrition scientist Professor Christopher Gardner said that it is difficult to prove any health benefits from these bacteria.
  • Some raw milk producers also claim it is easier to digest. However, a study overseen by Gardner found that lactose-intolerant participants had the same symptoms with raw and pasteurised milk.
    Drinking more milk helps weight loss:
  • The old belief was that drinking whole milk will make you fat and skim milk will help you lose weight. But this was refuted by Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study, which followed the diets of over 100,000 nurses for more than 30 years, including how their diets changed. “The Harvard study found that switching back and forth from whole-fat to 2-per cent to 1-per cent was not associated with changes in weight,” Gardner said.
  • But does drinking more milk help with weight loss? Some small, short-term studies showed that people lost weight if they drank more milk. according to Gardner, this raises the always-present nutrition-research challenge: Was it drinking more milk or was it consuming less of something else that caused the weight loss?
    Humans aren’t designed to drink cow’s milk: 
  • Most people can easily digest milk, which humans have been drinking since they first domesticated animals around 10,500 years ago. Lactose, the sugar that naturally occurs in milk, requires an enzyme to naturally digest it, and almost, 60 to 65 per cent of people in India are lactose intolerant, which means these people cannot digest lactose, which makes it an even relevant question should we consume dairy?
  • If you’re lactose intolerant, you might still be able to tolerate dairy products where lactose is removed (such as butter), digested (such as cheese) or fermented (such as yoghurt) – or lactose-free milk.
    Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.


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