Milk is a very good source of protein as it contains all of the essential amino acids needed to make a protein. It also contains about 300 to 350 mg of calcium (approximately 25% of your daily needs). Even though there are a couple positives to milk there are also a few negatives.
- Nearly half of the world population is lactose intolerant, which may cause bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea after milk is consumed. This is due to a lack of lactase, an enzyme that is required to digest lactose (milk sugar).
- Milk is also the most common food sensitivity and allergy. A milk sensitivity or allergy can contribute to skin rashes, eczema, sinus congestions, gas, bloating, indigestion, or even hyperactivity. The best way to test for a food sensitivity is a food sensitivity test (through a naturopath) or 4 weeks on an elimination diet.
- Higher fat levels in whole milk and 2% milk may increase cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels, which increases the risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Almond milk (preferably unsweetened)
- Coconut milk (preferably unsweetened)
- Soy milk (in moderation)
- Fortified rice milk
If you feel that eliminating milk is not an option, you seem to tolerate milk products well, are not overweight, and do not have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, or a family history of heart disease, choosing an organic milk or skim milk would be your best bet.
Made from whole milk, it is a high-fat/high-cholesterol food that is high in vitamin A. Although butter is high in saturated fat, this particular type of saturated fat is the fuel of choice for most of the cells in the large intestine and can help keep the digestive system on track.
- Choose butter over margarine. Many margarines contain “hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils” which is another word for trans fats. These are the worst kinds of fats for our body.
- Use butter in moderation. No more than 2 oz (57 g) per day.
- Choose unsalted butter over salted butter. 2 oz of salted butter contains 322 mg of sodium!
Yogurt and kefir are considered the health foods of the milk family. Both are the end product of the fermentation process of either whole, low-fat, or non-fat milk acted upon by good bacteria and yeasts. Incorporating these friendly bacteria and yeasts, also known as “probiotics” can help to improve digestion and help keep your gut healthy. Often people who have lactose intolerance do alright with yogurt and kefir.
- Avoid products with added sugars. Check the ingredients list to ensure that any fruit yogurts contain real fruit and not just fruit flavours. You shouldn’t see the words “sugar, glucose/fructose, cane, or syrup” in the first 4 ingredients.
- Choose a low-fat plain Greek yogurt. It contains all the probiotic benefits of yogurt, while reducing the fat, and increasing the protein. Add your own fruit if you prefer a sweeter flavour.
In general, cheese is a high-protein/high-fat food that can cause many of the same issues associated with a high-fat diet if not used in moderation. Cheese is even more commonly abused in the adult population than milk, and not all cheeses are made equal.
- Choose lower-fat cheeses made with skim milk.
- Avoid processed cheeses such as the “American” cheese slice. They are often high in sodium and unnecessary additives.
- Limit cream cheese. It is generally higher in fat and lower in protein and calcium.
- Choose cottage cheese as part of an occasional meal. It is higher in protein and somewhat lower in cholesterol, fat and calories than others (particularly low-fat cottage cheese).
- Use cheese in moderation. 2 oz (57 g) per day of all cheese except cottage cheese (3.5 oz; 100 g).