American children have been raised to think that drinking milk will help them to grow strong. In reality, dairy products like milk contribute to significant health problems and, generally, they are not as healthy as you think!
Myths About Milk
I have never been a fan of milk as a beverage – I just do not like the taste. I used to use it all the time in cereal, however. When my doctor diagnosed me with lactose-intolerance, I became curious and did some research into the health problems that are associated with milk and other dairy products. What I found was shocking.
The main health benefit that has been associated with milk for years is its calcium content – calcium is needed to help build strong bones. With a little research, however, I found that the calcium content in milk is not actually very high.
In fact, you can easily get your recommended 600 mg of calcium from non-dairy sources! Claims that milk consumption can help to reduce the risk of fractures have very little scientific evidence. In fact, almost no milk is consumed in Asian countries and these countries have lower fracture rates then the United States.
The Reality of Dairy
If you think about it, humans are the only species that consume milk outside of infancy. Furthermore, we are the only species that consumes the milk of another species. Don’t you think that is a little strange? When I first heard them, these two facts surprised and concerned me. If the rest of the animal kingdom isn’t doing it, can it really be that healthy for us? Upon performing further research, I discovered other downfalls associated with drinking milk and consuming dairy products.
Compared to other beverages, milk is very high in calories – depending what kind you drink, it also contains a lot of fat. Even skim milk contains an average of 90 calories per cup while almond milk (unsweetened) contains around 30. Milk does contain certain nutrients like potassium, but in much higher quantities that your body actually needs.
Many medical professionals worry that drinking too much milk could actually cause health problems, rather than prevent them. As a common ground, some nutritionists have suggested that consuming small amounts of dairy may not negatively impact your health, but they also say that you do not have to drink milk to be healthy.
If you have been inspired to join the dairy-free movement, you will need to stock up on a few dairy-free alternatives. Luckily, there are plenty of options to choose from! When it comes to milk, most grocery stores carry almond milk, coconut milk and soy milk – some may even offer rice milk or hemp milk. To replace cream and thicker dairy products, try using canned coconut milk. For cheese, look into vegan cheese alternatives.
Going dairy-free is not as difficult as you might think. For me, making the change from dairy has been a delicious adventure, especially almond and coconut milk for both drinking and cooking. Try it yourself and see what a difference it can make for your health and for your body!