The Truth About Milk: Is It Good Or Bad for Your Health?

The Truth About Milk: Is It Good Or Bad for Your Health?

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There’s one Indian tradition that refuses to die – of mothers trying to force milk down their kids’ throats and kids draining glasses of milk in the basin. But questions were raised when some studies started claiming how milk is bad for your health.

So, what is this confusion all about? How was such a staple part of so many diets painted as bad? Is it really bad or does its health benefits win over? The relevance of these questions increases considering India is the largest producer of milk. Our milk consumption is above the world average – 360 grams per person per day... and growing.

FIT spoke to two clinical nutritionists, Dr Rupali Datta from Fortis Hospital and Dr Shikha Sharma from NutriHealth, to clear the doubt – is milk good or bad for your health?

The source of milk makes it good or bad. Milk in itself is healthy. But these days factory-oriented milk production is causing a problem. Hundreds of cows are cooped up in a small area and fed with hormones and antibiotics to increase the yield of milk.
Dr Shikha Sharma
(Photo Courtesy: www.puremilk.co.in)

But Dr Rupali Datta feels this doesn’t mean we stop consuming milk which is an essential food group.

Instead of saying stop drinking milk, we should get our government to ban these hormones that are being used on the animals.
Dr Rupali Datta

Hormones in Milk: Should You Be Worried?

Dr Sharma explains, “There can be adverse effects. For example, if hormone-injected milk is consumed by women, they’ll have hormonal imbalances. It also effects hormones of growing kids and teenagers, that’s the time they have rapid change in hormones.”

Some studies and Dr Datta disagree.

I’m quoting a study done by the American Cancer Society, it has found that the hormones injected in the animals do not mess or get into our chemical functions. It is, however detrimental to the health of the animal.
Dr Rupali Datta

A lot of stores have started keeping milk where they’re labelling it as ‘this comes from cows which have not been injected with hormones.’ So you can seek those out.

Broken Bones, Cancer, Acne? Is Milk Bad for Our Health?

Some studies claim that milk can cause adverse effects in our bodies and harm our health. How much merit is there in these claims?

See, milk directly causing ill-health is a tall order. The reason being that health is a factor of multiple things. If the person otherwise is not on a healthy diet, the pH of the body becomes extremely acidic. So it’s a cascading reaction, it’s not like one thing.
Dr Shikha Sharma

What Are the Health Benefits of Milk?

(Photo: iStock)
Milk is one of the A-class protein sources. It is one of the best sources of calcium. It also has a positive effect on our heart’s health. A lot of studies have shown that intake of milk according to your requirements actually protects you against diabetes.
Dr Rupali Datta

Milk consumption, however, is not evenly distributed in the country. Northwestern states have a much higher consumption level but drinking milk is rare in the northeastern states, with per capita consumption on the state-level varying widely.

In non-milk-drinking northeastern India, the lack of protein in the diet is generally made up by the consumption of meat, eggs and fish.

What Are the Alternatives for Milk?

Here are some foods which you can have if you don’t consume milk and milk products.

(Photo: FIT)

Nutritionists say that there are various other sources for protein and calcium. But for people who don’t have non-vegetarian food, it becomes essential to include these alternatives in adequate amounts daily. Otherwise you won’t get the same amount of nutrients as a glass of milk.

So, should you have milk or not?

Dr Datta says:

Unless you have a debilitating or limiting medical condition do not take it out of your diet completely. You don’t need to have a litre of milk a day. No adult needs that. But between 200-500 ml of milk in any form is what is required by the body.

Dr Sharma says:

But if you don’t like milk don’t worry, there are many other alternatives that you can consume.

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Cameraperson: Athar Rather and Shiv Kumar Maurya

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