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  • Writer's pictureYimin Xu

Is milk healthy: these 3 crazy facts may really surprise you

While the dairy industry promotes milk as a mandatory part of a healthy diet, we believe that the opposite is true. Milk and dairy products are both unnecessary and suboptimal for healthy living.

1) 75% of people are lactose intolerant

The human body is designed to digest lactose (a carbohydrate that makes up about 60% of breast milk calories) at the baby stage. However, as we grow beyond 2-4 years old, our bodies begin to produce less lactase enzyme as a result of weaning. The inability to produce lactase enzyme diminishes our ability to digest milk[1]. It is therefore unsurprising that 65-75% of the global population are actually lactose intolerant, although this percentage varies across different populations[2]. In short, we were never designed to continue drinking milk, let along the cow’s milk, beyond the natural age of weaning.

2) Dairy farming and estrogen

Like humans, cattle are pregnant for 9 months. Dairy cows produce milk for about 10 months after calving. In commercial dairy cattle production, farmers aim for their cows to calve every 12 months. This means every year, cows have only 2 months of dry period during which they rest. However, by the time they reach the dry period, they would have been 7 months pregnant, while producing milk this whole time[3]. Studies have shown that concentrations of estrogen in the milk from pregnant cows are over 30 times higher than in the milk from non-pregnant cows[4]. Together with the cheese, red meats, processed meats typically found in a standard Western diet, we are now much more exposed to increased estrogen levels from our food than 100 years ago. In contrast, eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are not associated with any sex hormones[5].

3) Whole milk and low-fat milk

The standard whole milk contains about 3.25% fat. This means per 100 grams of milk, there are 3.25 grams of fats, of which 1.86 grams are saturated fats. While this does not sound high, this translates to 48% of the calories in the whole milk. Even when you look at the 1% fat milk (aka “low-fat”), fats still contribute over 20% of the calories in milk, most of which are saturated.

How about cheese?

While the dairy industry often advertises cheese as a source of protein and calcium, cheese is actually both calorie-dense and high in saturated fats. For example, 100 grams of mozzarella is 300 calories (compared with 61 calories in whole milk), and 22 grams of fats, of which 13 grams are saturated fats. This means fats contribute towards 66% of the calories in mozzarella, over half of which are saturated. Consumption of saturated fats are positively correlated with heart disease, strokes, and type-2 diabetes[6][7].

Plant-based alternatives

There are now plenty of plant-based alternatives we could choose over milk that provide the right nutrients we need. Plant-based drinks contain very low amounts of saturated fats (even compared with 1% fat milk). They are fortified with the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk (120mg per 100ml), as well as Vitamin D, Riboflavin (B2), and B12. The best part? They taste great. Luckily, we have all of this detailed information on the Plantwise app, so you never need to wing it again.

If you are motivated to eat more plant-based in your diet but feel unsure about plant-based nutrition in general, Plantwise is here to help. Sign up for our Apple App Store launch at the bottom of this page or on our homepage today for free!


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