Lactose: benefit or harm
The presence of an enzyme that breaks down milk sugar is determined by genetics. Asians, as well as people in Africa and South America, often have a lack of it. They do not tolerate milk and dairy products. Good tolerance of milk sugar is found in Denmark, Sweden, UK, Ukraine. In Russia, there are about 18% of adults who do not tolerate milk well.
Interestingly, among pregnant women, milk tolerance statistics is different. Up to 44% of women with signs of lactase deficiency begin to tolerate milk quite satisfactorily during the “interesting situation”. This wise evolutionary mechanism helps a woman to get enough calcium for herself and the future baby and not to lose all her teeth and hair during pregnancy and lactation.
Lactase deficiency is a lack of an enzyme that breaks down milk sugar, or, more rarely, its complete absence. This problem is also found in newborns, but it is much more often found in adults, since the production of the enzyme that breaks down milk sugar decreases in the majority with age.
Milk allergy is another problem.Allergen most often is protein casein, which is found in milk. Allergy symptoms are a rash, cough, edema. Their appearance does not depend on the amount of milk received by the body. Even its trace amounts can cause an allergic reaction. While the symptoms of lactase deficiency will be even brighter, the more a portion of milk sugar has entered the digestive tract.
Experimental data show that a person with signs of lactase deficiency can eat up to 20 g of dairy products without significant discomfort. With an allergy sufferer, this number does not work: he needs to lick ice cream once to get a "luxurious" urticaria, a Quincke's edema or even worse.
Milk composition: looking for healthy ingredients
Milk contains calcium - even a first grader knows this. And, judging by research, milk and dairy products are quite suitable, though not the only source for calcium production. Also, milk contains vitamin D. With this vitamin, Russians have problems, as their diet can hardly be called balanced on average. The problem is exacerbated by a lack of sun.Therefore, to whom in Russia do an analysis for the content of vitamin D, the result in one way or another will be deplorable (if the researcher does not specifically take vitamin D3).
Studies show a curious fact. The more people with a vitamin D deficiency in a population, the fewer will be those who do not tolerate milk sugar. Russia is among those countries that can not boast a large number of sunny days a year, and therefore very often doctors diagnose rickets in children, and adults - caries, poor resistance to colds and a lack of muscle tissue. These are typical symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. But many Russians tolerate milk well and do not complain about the symptoms of lactase deficiency, and this has a deep evolutionary meaning. Either a person lives all year round in the sun under a palm tree and gets enough vitamin D due to ultraviolet rays of the required wavelength, and therefore does not need milk, or receives a genetic “bonus” in the form of good tolerance of milk, since the sun has not lucky.
The composition of milk revealed to researchers another interesting fact.Several dozen cohort studies were conducted, which showed that drinking normal fat milk reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Meta-analyzes (which give us information with a high level of evidence) confirmed this data. Probably, such an unexpected effect arises as a result of calcium binding of excess milk fats, as well as due to the positive effect of the milk components on the level of “good” blood lipids.
Other useful components are found in milk: potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium and saturated fats.
Alas, the opponents of milk somehow ignore these facts. They report that calcium is not absorbed from milk badly, and terrible substances casomorphins have an effect similar to drugs on the brain.
Is milk a drug?
Casomorphines are substances that are formed as a result of the cleavage of the protein casein. They are credited with the “narcotic” effect of cheeses and ice cream, latte and cheesecake. Casomorphins allegedly bind to opioid receptors - and that's all, a person sits down on a “cheese igloo”, becomes a slave to Parmesan and a milkshake.
In fact, casomorphins are broken down even in the gastrointestinal tract. In a healthy person, they can not enter the bloodstream until they split into harmless amino acids - the simplest "bricks" that will then be used to build protein and other body needs. But even if the casomorphins are in the blood, they will be met and neutralized by immune proteins. And to the brain these "drugs" will not reach in any way simply because to the nerve cells access is limited due to a natural "checkpoint" - the blood-brain barrier.
Therefore, the idea that milk has a "narcotic" effect does not have any reasonable arguments.
Dermatologists don't really like milk, and there is a reason for this. After drinking milk, the level of insulin in the blood rises, which probably increases the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands. Therefore, a possible result of regular milk intake is acne.
There are also ambiguous data on milk: these are the results of studies that show a positive relationship between milk consumption and prostate cancer, ovaries, and colorectal cancer.However, these information need more convincing evidence.
So drink milk or not drink
There are regulations that regulate the content of microorganisms in milk products, antibiotics and other. How scrupulously they are followed by different producers and what kind of milk can be considered the best in composition, technologists will tell. However, high-quality milk can be recognized in another way: just try it.
Does this mean that absolutely everyone needs to drink milk? Of course no. The author of this article, for example, does not suffer from allergies to milk and does not have lactase deficiency, but does not tolerate the taste and smell of this product since childhood. That is why quietly ignores coffee with milk, cereal with milk, milk soups and other pleasures of life. If you do not like milk, do not pour it into yourself. Yet there are other sources of calcium in the world: almonds, sesame, legumes, figs, cabbage, dairy products. Some nutritionists even recommend fruits and vegetables as a priority source of calcium in the diet, because they have another valuable component - fiber. But if you like milk, drink it without worrying about health risks.
There is an unhealthy tendency in the world - writing pseudoscientific stories around habitual products, be it pasta or milk, potatoes or tomatoes. And it is still necessary to share objective information about the possible harm of milk and personal reasons for which a person does not drink it.
Of course, do not forget about a reasonable balance in the diet: for example, vegetables and fruits, whole grains, cereals, fish and white meat. Consuming large amounts of milk fat and a lack of fiber in the diet can at least cause abdominal discomfort and weight gain.
There is another aspect of drinking milk - ethical. Some refuse this product out of reluctance to maintain a system that exploits and makes animals suffer. But science on this subject remains silent. So, beliefs about the justice or injustice of the structure of this world are a private matter.