Should YOU drink milk or not?
As a nutrition professional, I have witnessed drastic changes in some of the basic concepts based on which diets are designed. A lot of unlearning in the past years had to be made for cracking some tough cases. Often asked these days, should I stop gluten rich grains or drinking milk, clients see it as a trend and jump into it without thinking if they indeed need to give up roti, dalia or their favorite wheat bread sandwich with cheese.
The protests around Jallikattu brought out a lot of facts around native cows, the A1, A2 milk which fuelled a much-debated issue of whether we humans need cow’s milk. Individuals do react to the SUGAR (lactose) or PROTEIN(casein/ whey) in milk . Absence of the enzyme lactase makes it difficult to digest milk and causes stomach pain, burping, flatulence, diarrhea that are typical symptoms of lactose intolerance. The tolerance varies with each individual, for some curd is easy to tolerate but a cheese sandwich can cause much discomfort.
CASEIN is a slow digesting protein, that is our humble paneer while the water that separates out is WHEY. Casein is similar in structure to gluten and some of those who are intolerant to gluten are also sensitive to casein.
Casein comes in 2 variants - A1 and A2 beta casein that was very much in the. A1 beta casein appeared as a result of cross breeding between native breeds and other imported breeds while A2 is the original one. So if one has a native cow which is grass fed and allowed to roam free in green pastures, the milk truly is nutritious with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which helps reduce fat and increase lean muscle mass. The saints and our great grandparents must have consumed this kind of high quality milk.
Concerns about milk in real life
Few years back, my friend who is a pediatrician mentioned about her research with Downs syndrome children, whose repeated chest infections reduced drastically once they children stopped dairy products. My mentor, a well known nutritionist had severe allergy issues, rhinitis for almost 8 years until her Ayurvedic physician recommended a dairy free diet .Her health improved tremendously and she has switched to other sources of calcium in her daily diet. One of my clients, who is a fashion designer saw tremendous improvement in her psoriasis when she stopped consuming dairy products.
Some of my clients were not losing weight inspite of the regular clean eating – exercise- high protein – high fibre – good fats routine and going dairy free made a difference. Trust me, they did not exhibit symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Wait before you arrive at any decision:
Milk is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, B complex vitamins but one needs authentic old-fashioned milk, then it carries all the nutrients that support good health.
The non IgE mediated cow’s milk protein allergy triggers allergy several hours after consumption.
Individual who have severe allergies, are lactose intolerant should perhaps try elimination diets and then reintroduce plain milk, curd, cheese in varying amounts to see if they can tolerate these various forms of dairy.
People who suffer from hives, eczema, psoriasis, bloating, gas, flatulence, wheezing, cough, nausea, stomach cramps can try going on dairy free diet for 30 days – in fact 3 months would be appropriate and then reintroduce and check for symptoms.
The non-dairy calcium alternative are
- Sesame seeds
- Green leafy vegetables
- Dried beans like rajma, chickpeas, black, urad dal ,figs
- Soya enriched with calcium
Note: The leafy greens have oxalates; millets have phytates that can interfere with bioavailability. Seek help from a professional to design a balanced meal plan.
For the fitness enthusiasts, plant protein powders (peas, flax, hemp) are easily available in the market.
Hence, each individual is different and reacts to various foods. Don't be a victim of fad diets and go with market trends. Check if you truly have a medical condition before you eliminate major food groups from the meal plan. Create your own template of foods that suits you well and helps you work at your optimal energy levels.