Milk: good or bad?


Milk: good or bad?

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Dietitian Elena Motova answers the eternal question: is it possible to eat dairy products in adulthood without compromising health?

People constantly ask me whether a thinking person can eat this or that. Do I need to shove in useful oatmeal, if you can not tolerate it? Is it not harmful to drink milk in adulthood? At first, ask not your doctor, but your own organism. If you do not like a product, even the most useful, you do not need it. And vice versa, if you like milk, feel the need for it and digest it well, why not drink it? Some people have reduced the activity of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down milk sugar - lactose - into glucose and galactose, which are then absorbed into the blood. Therefore, after the milk, they may have a "rebellion" in the stomach: nausea, increased gas formation and even diarrhoea.

This genetic feature is characteristic of peoples who traditionally did without milk. As the experiment with the indigenous population of Chile in the 1970s showed, the Indians from milk are really bad. Eskimos, Chinese and some other ethnic groups practically do not assimilate it. The stable activity of the enzyme lactase throughout life is common in populations that engaged in dairy farming. 97–98% of the Dutch and Danes, 47–64% of Russians drink milk without problems. That is, a useful genetic mutation has emerged and consolidated, which allows you to consume animal milk throughout life. There is an interesting assumption that in the zone of insolation deficiency, where there are problems with the production of vitamin D, this mutation provided the normal state of the bones due to increased calcium intake.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance are due to the fact that the breakdown and absorption of this carbohydrate are impaired. Lactose, which is not absorbed by the small intestine, quickly passes into the large intestine, where intestinal bacteria are taken. To understand whether a person has a problem, we use the lactose intolerance test. The level of glucose in the blood is measured on an empty stomach, then the person drinks a solution of lactose, and the blood sugar measurement is repeated after 60 and 120 minutes. Since lactose does not break down in the intestines, the level of glucose in the blood will increase slightly. There is also a genetic test that helps to determine the same hereditary predisposition to decrease the activity of lactase with age. 

The severity of symptoms and the time of their appearance depends not only on the speed of motility but also on the dose: the amount of the dairy product and the lactose content in its matter. 

When lactase deficiency dairy products are still not excluded from the diet. In this case, yoghurts with live cultures and the natural content of the enzyme are recommended, cheeses in which lactose is already fermented by bacteria, or dairy products without lactose, or taking the enzyme lactase in addition. A small amount of milk is usually also acceptable. We must remember that dairy products are interchangeable. They are included in all official recommendations.healthy nutrition, providing us with calcium, protein, some vitamins and energy. The main reason for refusing them for medical reasons in adults is an established allergy to cow's milk proteins. Product allergies should not be confused with intolerance, these are different conditions that require a different approach. So drink milk if you want, and be healthy!

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