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Nutrimend comes to you with all the health benefits of milk

Cultured or fermented dairy products seem to be the most health-promoting, best tolerated and substantially

Nupur Arya And Neha Patodia | Published 28.03.22, 03:00 AM

For centuries, milk has been considered “the elixir” for good health and longevity. Milk’s health benefits have been promoted since history. However, over the last few years, in this vegan-frenzy age, milk has gained notoriety and is being avoided like the plague. It has been associated with being harmful, unhealthy, and being loaded with toxic chemicals, hormones and indigestible proteins. It has also been accused of causing gut issues, acne, skin diseases and increasing the risk of getting cancer. Therefore, the sudden villainizing of dairy, has left people wondering if it’s actually good or not and if at all it should be consumed!

The answer to this is: First, all dairy products are not created equally. It ranges from raw milk to highly processed ice creams. The nutrient content differs for each product, thus, influencing the digestibility and nutritional benefits of each. Secondly, people vary in their ability to tolerate and digest dairy depending on their unique make-up — genetics, age, digestive health and intestinal microbiota.

HOW DO DAIRY TYPES DIFFER?

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Dairy types differ based on the macro and micronutrient content — carbohydrates, proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, the degree and type of processing, the bacterial content, digestibility and fluid-to-solid ratio. The gamut of dairy products ranges from pure fats (ghee) to entirely protein (whey protein powders) to highly processed ones with added sugar, emulsifiers, flavourings etc. Decoding the different types of dairy:

1. Milk: It effectively delivers water and other nutrients needed by one to grow. If tolerated well, one should continue consuming it as it could offer an array of essential nutrients. If consuming milk causes any symptoms or discomfort, it should be discontinued and other food options can be easily incorporated in the diet to compensate for the deficient nutrients.

2. Fermented dairy products — yogurt, kefir:
Cultured or fermented dairy products seem to be the most health-promoting, best tolerated and substantially different from the other dairy products. They contain an abundant supply of gut-friendly probiotics, have a lower content of lactose, higher content of important nutrients such as vitamin K2 and more easily-digested proteins.

Scientific evidence strongly suggests that cultured and fermented dairy products can be extremely beneficial for health and should be included in one’s diet.

3. Cheese: Aged and bacterially fermented or cultured cheese contains a lot of friendly bacteria and has a nutritional profile similar to that of yogurt. Cheddar, parmesan, brie, feta are some examples of this and are likely to provide some health benefits. Processed cheese is made of 50 per cent real cheese and 50 per cent non-cheese elements such as soya bean oils, food dyes, colourings etc and may not be as healthy as the fresh and aged cheeses.

4. Butter and Ghee: Butter is a mix of butterfat and milk solids whereas ghee is butterfat from which milk solids have been removed, making it ideal for high-flame cooking and easily digestible. Ghee is considered relatively better than butter as the latter lacks a certain membrane that prevents the fat from negatively affecting our blood cholesterol and lipoprotein levels. Ghee, being rich in butyric acid, also helps regulate metabolism, immunity, gut health and inhibit cancer cells.

The diet of cows has a major impact on the quality of milk, influencing its protein, carbohydrate and fat content

The diet of cows has a major impact on the quality of milk, influencing its protein, carbohydrate and fat content

THE IMPACT OF DAIRY ON HEALTH:

1. Dairy and Weight: does it cause weight loss or weight gain? It depends on how one uses it to reach their goals. High-protein dairy products such as cottage cheese, whey protein, cultured yogurts are low in calories, high in nutrients and can be incorporated in one’s diet to maintain or lose weight. Similarly, high-fat or full-fat dairy products can be consumed to help one stay in calorie surplus. However, dairy alone isn’t responsible for one’s weight or body composition.

2. Building Muscles And Athletic Performance: Whey and casein, two very high-quality proteins that are found in some of the dairy products are great sources of essential amino acids and can be very helpful in maintaining/gaining muscle mass and recovery post-workout, thus helping with athletic performance.

3. Osteoporosis And Bone Health: Even though bone health depends on a number of factors such as exercise, general diet and lifestyle, age etc, dairy can be extremely beneficial in supporting bone density as it is rich in many nutrients that are important for bone health such as calcium, phosphorous, protein, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K2.

One could be called allergic to dairy if almost immediate reactions are prevalent after the consumption of milk or milk-based products

One could be called allergic to dairy if almost immediate reactions are prevalent after the consumption of milk or milk-based products

DAIRY INTOLERANCE, ALLERGY AND SENSITIVITY:

Dairy Allergy: One could be called allergic to dairy if almost immediate reactions are prevalent after the consumption of milk or milk-based products. It is an immune response which is just not restricted to the digestive system but also elsewhere such as skin, mouth, throat and respiratory system. One could develop reactions such as itching, rashes, swelling, hives and also difficulties in breathing. Dairy products should be completely avoided in such cases.

Lactose Intolerance: The production of enzymes needed to break down the sugars found in milk lactose and galactose depend on a lot of factors — genetic background, age, intestinal or gut health, the form of dairy consumed etc. People who don’t produce these enzymes effectively find it difficult to digest lactose, which is then passed on to the large intestine where it ferments, producing gas, bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. However, lactose-intolerant people don’t need to avoid all forms of dairy. Non-cow dairy such as goat milk, fermented dairy products such as yogurt, and low-lactose products such as cheese and ghee are usually better tolerated.

DAIRY-RELATED SENSITIVITIES:

Some people are sensitive to dairy but lactose isn’t the problem. They may be intolerant or sensitive to other components found in milk, like casein, whey, or other immunoglobulins. In such cases, the immune system could react to that particular component causing symptoms such as inflammation, rashes,  acne, respiratory issues etc.

It could be a little challenging to identify the dairy-related sensitivities. It is recommended to experiment with different forms of dairy and maintain a detailed food log to track the symptoms. The various dairy products can then be eliminated or included based on the experience.

ORGANIC VS CONVENTIONAL DAIRY FARMING:

The diet of the cows has a major impact on the quality of milk, influencing its protein, carbohydrate and fat content. Organic dairy usually comes from healthy animals that spend most of their time outdoors on fresh pasture eating lots of grass supplemented with hay, root veggies and grains. Organic dairy also comes from cows that have not been given extra hormones or antibiotics. Even though hormones used by conventional farmers have not shown any adverse effect on humans, they have raised concerns with animal rights activists and is considered inhuman. However, antibiotics used by the farmers pose serious concerns as it is leading to antibiotic resistance in humans, making it difficult to treat the problem of resistant bacteria. Therefore, if dairy is consumed on a regular basis, it is best to opt for organic over conventional.

To sum it up, milk or dairy is not a “magic food” nor a “demon food” and it’s definitely not the single factor determining one’s health and fitness levels. It’s a very small part of the big picture — one’s overall diet, lifestyle, environment, age etc.
If one does choose to consume dairy, it is important to understand the differences between the dairy products and making conscious choices that are in sync with their fitness/health goals.

If dairy is not tolerated well or one chooses not to consume it because of environmental or ethical concerns, other food options should be consciously included in the diet to compensate for the lacking nutrients.

Nutrimend is a diet consultancy clinic founded by sister duo Neha Patodia and Nupur Arya in 2016

Last updated on 28.03.22, 03:00 AM
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