Will Drinking Milk Help You Live Longer?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

There are plenty of people (I’m not one of them) practicing or believing in alternative health who think that drinking milk is simply bad to the bone.  A new meta-analysis from 324 milk-related studies1 by European researchers concludes that regular milk drinking may reduce the chances of dying from illnesses such as coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke by up to 15-20 %.

Milk is not for everyone.  Some are allergic to it.  Some are lactose intolerant.  Some get too much mucous from consuming it.  Some simply don’t like it.  However, painting it as an evil food that should be avoided if you want to be healthy is not supported by human science.

I personally think that skim and 1% milk should be avoided, as the increased concentration of milk proteins may lead to increased risk for allergy.  Ideally, you would get milk from cows that are allowed to graze in pastures so that the omega 3 content of the milk is increased.  There is a milk quality issue in our country based on fast food agribusiness.  So it does pay to drink better quality organic milk as much as possible when you have the choice.

There are many bioactive factors in milk that are very good for your immune system.  Lactose as a form of sugar is not nearly as glycemic in nature as other simple sugars.  The cholesterol content in milk has been incorrectly villified.  The calcium in milk is protective to your digestive tract and good for bones, as well as a helper to your metabolism.

Most of the people promoting the anti-milk rhetoric in alternative health have personal problems consuming milk.  That does not mean that their personal shortcomings are science for everyone.  I could tell you something wrong with any food.  Keep in mind – we must eat. 

The conclusion of this study is that on the whole, milk consumption as part of your diet is associated with less mortality. 


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Milk and Longevity   J Am Coll Nutr.  Elwood PC, Givens DI, Beswick AD, Fehily AM, Pickering JE, Gallacher J.

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