The debate has gone on for a while now - is dairy good or evil?
We often hear all the good things and the bad things about milk from different sources. And the hopelessly misguided Canada Food Guide of course says to have lots of dairy (and wheat!) products a day. But, did you know that the Canada Food guide is majority funded by the dairy and wheat industry?
There are definitely pros and cons to eating/drinking dairy products.
A study by Dr. David Ludwig and Dr Walter WIllet from Harvard Unversity found no data to support the claim that consumption of dairy leads to better bones, weight loss, or improved health. They did find some risks tied to dairy consumption, including weight gain, increased fracture risk, and even increased cancer risk. This study was done on US dairy, where farmers are allowed to use hormones with the dairy cattle, but weight gain and increased fracture risk has been found in Canada as well. Why? In terms of weight gain, milk has, on average about 12g of sugars for each cup. Drink 2 cups of milk and you have just ingested a quick 24g of sugar. In terms of increased fracture risk, milk is also acidic to the body, causing it to pull calcium out of bones to buffer the PH of the blood to keep you alive.
Even organic dairy has hormones in it, albeit natural ones, since cows are often milked when they are pregnant. Adding artificial hormones in dairy/cows is illegal in Canada (NOT so in the US!), so even if we are not getting hormones artificially, there can be an average of 60 different "natural" cow hormones in a glass of milk at any one time. Hmmm....
Consuming milk when you are sick can also keep you sicker longer, by promoting excess mucous production, which bacteria love. If you do drink milk, try cutting it out when you are sick, and replace it with some lemon and honey in hot water. The enzymes in the honey will help break down the mucous, getting you better faster!
The only other problem is that dairy is very allergenic - not just due to people with lactose intolerance, but because many people are allergic to the proteins in dairy (usually casein - which is why people allergic to casein can still drink whey protein isolate powder). If you get frequent bloating, gas, eczema, allergies, sinus issues, low energy, joint pain, autoimmune conditions, diarrhea or acne, try eliminating dairy for 2-3 weeks to see if things improve. If not, you are probably not allergic/sensitive to dariy. If you feel better not consuming dairy, this might be food for thought. Literally :)
Now, for the benefits of dairy: yogurt - especially greek yogurt - has lots of protein in it, and not a lot of sugar (as long as you get the plain variety!). Why? The beneficial bacteria have consumed most of the sugars. Ditto for cottage cheese, although it is usually slightly higher in sugars. Yohgurt also tends to be less acidifying to the body than milk, which is better, plus it has all the beneficial probiotic bacteria for your gut! Just try to make it greek yogurt as the protein content is many times higher than found in "normal" yogurt.
Also, the protein in dairy (all dairy) is some of the most bio available protein on the planet. It is absorbed more easily, quickly, and completely than most other protein sources.
Also, if you have access to farm fresh dairy, this is significantly different, and quite likely better than the homogonized, pasturized and processed milk we get from the grocery store. I don't recommend this to young children or pregnant mothers because of potential bacteria, but perhaps it makes sense for you.
If you do choose to stick with dairy, especially milk, try sheep or goat dairy (ie. goat cheese or goat/sheep milk). It's a healthier option,