Dairy related to chronic systemic inflammation and osteoporosis.
A large Swedish study found that drinking more milk was actually associated with a greater risk of fractures and higher mortality in women.
Women who drank three or more cups of milk per day (average of 680g) had almost double the rate of an early death, and were 60% more likely to have a hip fracture over the 20-year study.
Men who consumed more milk were also at a greater risk of early death, although the link was not as strong as in women.
Milk is the main dietary source of D-galactose. Experimental evidence in several animal species indicates that chronic exposure to D-galactose is deleterious to health and the addition of D-galactose by injections or in the diet is an established animal model of ageing. Having a lot of milk is therefore thought to be problematic for us.
But what about the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating's Recommendation of 2-3 serves a day? Have they got it wrong?
Before you get hot around the collar dairy-lovers, or the polar opposite, start saying 'I told you so' to all your dairy-consuming friends…..The findings DID contradict the message of drinking milk being good for our bones. But what the research also found, was that consuming dairy that has been fermented/cultured - think yoghurt, cheese, kefir etc was actually beneficial for our bones - reducing fractures and rates of mortality (death) in those examined.
How does bacteria in my dairy fix things?
It seems to be the difference in the levels of lactose and galactose between the two which could explain things.
While milk has high amounts of lactose and galactose in it, these sugars are found at lower or non-existent levels in cheeses and yoghurt. Lactose and galactose sugars are eaten by the bacteria as food.
In animal studies, these sugars have been associated with a shorter lifespan caused by oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. When the bacteria eat them, there's less in the product for us to consume. Thanks bacteria!
Not to mention their possible probiotic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and effects on our gut microbiota. Research has found a high intake of fermented milk products has been associated with a decreased risk of heart diseases, and a high intake of milk seems to have the opposite effect for both diabetes and heart disease.
So should I cut dairy?
No. Not necessarily - just opt for more of the fermented choices rather than milk. If you do want to cut dairy and are concerned about your calcium intake - you don't need dairy to get your fill, though it makes it much easier. Here's how.
Whilst it may not be 'dangerous' to consume a glass or so of milk a day, your best bet it seems is to have your dairy fermented - in the form of yoghurt, cheese, or kefir. Especially if you have a strong family history of osteoporosis or chronic disease. Keep in mind that cutting out dairy to reduce your risk of chronic disease, inflammation and osteoporosis isn't going to do much if you don't look after the rest of your diet and lifestyle. If you'd like some assistance with this, I'm here to help, regardless of your dietary preferences. Book a consult or diet analysis here.