Dairy, Good or Bad?


Milk and other dairy products are high in saturated fats, which is not the good type of fat that we want to be consuming on a regular basis since it accumulates in the arteries and around the organs.

Consuming dairy products adds to the load on the body and can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as an increased risk for breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers due to the additional hormones and antibiotics found in many dairy products.

Most adults, and many children, are unable to break down the lactose in dairy products because they lack the lactase enzyme. This can lead to many unpleasant digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating.  

Many others struggle with sinus and allergies due to a dairy intolerance. Dairy products create mucous in the body so if you struggle with frequent infections, postnasal drip, or blocked sinuses, dairy products could be the problem.

There is not much evidence to confirm whether dairy products actually benefit bone health and since calcium is available from many other foods dairy is not an essential food item.  

Food is the best source of calcium. While milk, yogurt, and cheese are sources of calcium, green, leafy vegetables and sardines with bones are also good sources. Many milk alternatives, cereals, and snacks are also fortified with calcium.

Although plant foods can be a good source of calcium, they also contain inhibitory substances such as oxalates and phytates which bind to the calcium in the plant and may decrease absorption. 

Some research has shown that when fed a relatively low calcium diet our intestines become more efficient at absorbing calcium, and our kidneys conserve it better. However, when overfed with calcium our bodies adjust as well. Our intestines then block the calcium absorption, while our kidneys eliminate more.  If not eliminated, the excess calcium gets deposited in our soft tissues (heart, kidneys, muscles, and skin), making us vulnerable to illness and even death.

Calcium in fortified beverages such as soya milk and orange juice are comparable to that of milk, but studies show that the fortificant often settles to the bottom of the carton and even with vigorous shaking is not always sufficient to re-suspend the calcium salts, so some of the calcium may be lost.

Milk and dairy products are certainly marketed as the best source of calcium, but there are other non-dairy sources that can meet the necessary requirements if consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet.

Although many foods provide good amounts of calcium, we don’t absorb the full amount from any of them. When we compare what is actually absorbed, we can deduce that our calcium requirements can come from a variety of foods and not just dairy products.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 14 July 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am