Milk, a food as common as it is controversial

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Milk is an ancient food, there are testimonies of its consumption from 10,000 years ago and it has traditionally occupied a prominent place in the diet. Currently, milk and its derivatives continue to be very common on our menus. However, they have been the subject of harsh criticism, they are as common as they are controversial and, when we talk about feeding adults, expert opinions but also interested or pseudoscientific proliferate.

It is not easy to reach a final resolution. The experts consulted by CuídatePlus reject criticism as excessive as the association that has been made with the appearance of cancer. Although there is no unanimity regarding the benefits, it can be concluded that milk is a good food for adults but not essential for health, not even for bone health.

Eduard Baladía, from the Scientific Knowledge Management Area of ​​the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, attributes the criticism to a reaction to an equivocal message launched by the dairy industry in the sense that they are essential for health when it is not true : “If you maintain good lifestyle habits, dairy consumption is less important. This is what the literature says, we are not inventing anything ”.

According to this literature, it is physical activity that is most related to bone health and the prevention of problems such as osteoporosis or broken bones when we are older. Baladía clarifies that dairy products are a good source of calcium from which, fundamentally, the sedentary population or those with bad habits can benefit, "but the evidence does not indicate that a higher intake of these products reduces the risk of bone fracture due to osteoporosis" .

Jordi Salas, researcher at the Center for Biomedical Research in Red-Pathophysiology of Obesity and Nutrition (CiberOBN) and professor of Nutrition at the Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona, affirms that it is a complete food, containing proteins, vitamins and minerals, and promotes bone health. Anyway, he advocates not to simplify things and insists that there are no good or bad foods, but good or bad diets.

There are no undesirable effects

"There is sufficient evidence that dairy products do not have undesirable effects on weight, sugar, cardiovascular disease or cancer," says Salas, who agrees on this point with Baladía, who describes as excessive the claim that they have something to do with the appearance of oncological pathologies.

Both experts agree in advising adults to consume two units or daily servings of milk or milk, although the researcher from CyberOBN adds that there should be three during the menopause phase and the spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics point out that it can be none when life routines are healthy and include physical exercise because it insists that "consuming dairy is not essential for optimal health."

Whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed

And their views reconcile when they address another milk controversy. Is whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed better? The problem is that there is an important scientific discussion that has not yet been solved.

Scientific societies considered that whole milk was not the best for adults, especially for those with conditions such as hypercholesterolemia, diabetes or obesity. Today, there is no scientific evidence that clearly indicates the superiority of one or another type of milk.

Baladía understands that good studies are necessary, "which I think has not been" and, meanwhile, that each doctor make his recommendation adjusting to the specific case of his patient: "Uncertainty implies that the decision is different depending on the plane in the let one move. "

Does it protect from diseases?

Salas and Baladía disagree, however, regarding the benefits of milk on the prevention of certain diseases.

The CiberOBN researcher refers to several studies that show an inverse relationship between the consumption of dairy products and the metabolic syndrome, that is, the frequent consumption of these foods, especially milk and yogurt, reduces the risk of developing with time this disease, which is characterized by the presence of several cardiovascular risk factors at the same time, such as abdominal obesity, good low and high bad cholesterol, hypertension, high triglycerides, etc.

This was the result, for example, of the last meta-analysis carried out in 2018 by the Nutrition Group of the Rovira i Virgili University. In this investigation, the risk was 27% lower with dairy, 21% with milk and 26% with yogurt.

Salas also notes that the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Research (WCRF / AICR), the body that continuously monitors the effect of lifestyle on cancer, has concluded that there is important evidence that the Intake of these products protects against colorectal cancer, although against prostate cancer it is the other way around, "but with less level of evidence."

On the contrary, the person in charge of the Scientific Knowledge Management Area of ​​the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defends that milk and its derivatives do not protect against anything, but rather have a neutral effect: “We must take cautiously the information from that protect from something, may be associated with other behaviors but not only due to the consumption of dairy products. With the type of studies we have, which are practically observational, we can say that they have a neutral effect. ”

What both strongly reject is that milk is harmful to the body.

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Educative article. Well done.

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