Last Updated on September 16, 2020
There are very strong opinions when it comes to drinking cow’s milk. Still, I think it’s important to talk about the science related to milk and lactose.
For many people, the ability to properly digest the lactose in cow’s milk decreases after childhood. Most children can, at least to some degree, tolerate lactose due to having sufficient lactase supplies. As time goes on, the ability to produce an adequate amount of lactase drops off. We consider this an epigenetic phenomenon. Epigentics means the change in lactase production doesn’t reflect damage to a gene but another factor that influences gene expression.
I read a study out of Norway, done by a microbiologist, that stated approximately 80-90% of people in that country tolerate milk well. This scientist shared the experience of his friend who could tolerate milk all his life until suddenly, poof, he began to have problems. With a little investigation, it turned out his friend was taking antibiotics. The antibiotics had altered the expression of the gene responsible for producing lactase – hence, an epigenetic response.
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I don’t have a problem with small amounts of unpasteurized and unhomogenized milk in my diet. If I drink commercial dairy, I get stuffed up with mucus. For me, having a nice cup of espresso with a frothy bit of milk on top is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
For many people, milk is not a problem, particularly if it has been modified in a yogurt making process. However, be careful about drinking several glasses of milk a day. High milk consumption has been linked to an increase in inflammatory proteins in the body. I’ve had many clients over the years who were hooked on milkshakes and went on to have heart attacks and strokes.
My recommendation is to be careful about milk unless it is fresh, unhomogenized, and unpasteurized. But in small amounts, I consider it perfectly fine.
Also, your lactose tolerance can change if your gut health changes. If your gut is leaky or if you have a genetic lactase intolerance, then keeping milk out of your diet makes sense. The same is true for those with eczema, asthma, or known allergies.