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The adverse health effects associated with dairy and dairy products should urge people to ditch dairy from their diets
The biggest lie we’ve been told as children is to drink milk.
At school, children are given free milk and encouraged to develop the habit of consuming cow’s milk for the rest of their lives. We’ve been told that we need milk for strong bones, healthy teeth, and in order to grow tall.
A big glass of cold milk with dinner stirs images of health and a happy family life, doesn’t it?
But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
No benefits to bone health
A 2008 study published in The Journal of Pediatrics showed that dairy consumption does not have any beneficial effects on children’s bone health.
In fact, another study published in 2014 showed that milk consumption throughout one’s formative teenage years is associated with a higher risk of bone fractures later in life.
Furthermore, researchers have shown that consumption of cow’s milk is linked to chronic constipation in children and increased risk of developing food allergies and cancer, especially breast and prostate cancers.
What is shocking is that up to 75 percent of the world’s population is lactose intolerant.
Lactose intolerance is not the same as having a milk allergy, which is life-threatening and occurs in about three percent of children in the U.K in the first year of their life.
Lactose intolerance is a digestive problem where the body cannot digest lactose - a sugar found in dairy - and can occur at any time in life.
The prevalence of lactose intolerance is very high among Blacks, Asians, Arabs, Hispanics, Native Americans, Jews, Italians, and Greeks. In fact, 90 percent of South Asians and 75 percent of black people are believed to be lactose intolerant.
Suffering in silence
The symptoms of lactose intolerance are similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and as a result it is often mistaken for IBS.
Sadly, there is no cure for IBS, and that may be why a large number of people with a presumptive diagnosis of IBS tend to not seek medical advice.
Instead, they suffer in silence, despite how the correct diagnosis and removal of dairy from their diet would provide them with tremendous relief.
There are even more reasons to eliminate dairy from our diets. Studies have shown that dairy consumption can increase the risk for developing asthma as well as exacerbate the symptoms of acute asthma.
A 1985 study showed significant improvement in asthma symptoms when dairy was removed from diets, as well as a reduction in medications, including steroids.
One in five UK households is affected by asthma. As well, emergency hospital admissions related to asthma are three times more prevalent among South Asians in the U.K.
Although suffering from asthma does not raise the risk of someone getting infected with the coronavirus, it certainly does increase the risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease.
Dairy and obesity
What’s more: cheese, which is milk in a highly concentrated form, contains up to 70 percent fat.
Consumption of cheese and other dairy products such as cream and butter is linked to increased levels of obesity. In the U.K, Black African and Black Caribbean adults have the highest rates of obesity and being overweight. Like asthma, obesity increases the risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness.
Furthermore, emerging evidence suggests that those from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds have a higher chance of needing admissions to intensive care units and dying from COVID-19.
Currently, governments around the globe are considering enacting new measures in order to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infection, and removing dairy and dairy products from our diets should be part of those measures.
Dairy and health
In summary, the adverse health effects associated with dairy and dairy products should urge people to ditch dairy from their diets.
As Drs. David Ludwig and Walter Willett state in a 2014 study published in JAMA Pediatrics: "Humans have no requirement for cow’s milk."
By Leila Dehghan, MD, MSc (Nutr), ANutr is a doctor-turned-nutritionist and a member of the Advisory Board for Plant-Based Health Professionals UK
World Plant Milk Day is calling on people to sign our 7-day dairy-free challenge. Already ditched dairy? Nominate your friends and family to take part! Find out more here