Is Dairy Good for Weight Loss?
Much conjecture surrounds the benefits of consuming dairy foods and whether or not it is good for weight loss. Let’s explore some of the potential pitfalls you may not be aware of.
ALL IN THE MARKETING?
Milk is a complete food …only if you’re a calf!
Humans are the only animals that consume the milk of another mammal well past their childhood. Through years of advertisements and commercials, marketing has presented dairy as an excellent calcium source and therefore good for your bones and muscles.
However, recent scientific studies have found otherwise. For example, one study examining women at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis past their menopause found no benefit with no evidence of a higher intake of milk preventing or reducing the risk of fractures.
The findings are counter-intuitive, considering what we have been told regarding the benefits of dairy and bone strength.
The truth is, there are aspects to dairy that are withheld in the marketing. Dairy is high in saturated fats, which are not good if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight. Dairy, and milk specifically, contains sugar in the form of lactose, which creates lactose intolerance in some people. But these facts are not the crucial elements. The following two points are critical in knowing why our society is experiencing a growing obesity epidemic and will help us understand obesity in a more holistic way.
INSULIN & INFLAMMATION
The first point is that milk is produced by the cow primarily for consumption by the calf. The milk contains a specific insulin-like growth factor that helps the calf grow quickly on a milk-only diet. The problem is that this insulin-like growth factor creates an acidic environment.
When humans consume the milk, the growth factor has a pro-carcinogenic effect which means it creates a medium for the growth of cancer cells. Studies have confirmed this by showing that dairy consumption can promote prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
The second point is that studies are linking dairy to the creation of inflammation in the body. For example, a 2015 study specifically looked at German subjects who were consuming high amounts of dairy. The study found a direct link between their dairy consumption and the need for hip replacement surgery. It seems dairy creates a degree of inflammation in the joints, thus leading to joint complications over time.
WHAT ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS?
When it comes to the big question of weight loss, we are beginning to understand that obesity is not just about calories in and calories out. Obesity is also an inflammatory condition that leads to the disruption of your metabolism, leading to disturbed gut health, creating further problems with metabolism.
As metabolism rests in the gut, a more acidic environment negatively affects gut health. Acidity is accentuated by several toxins present in milk in the form of chemicals such as permease and heavy metal antibiotics that the animals are being given during their lifetime.
Obesity is also an inflammatory condition that leads to the disruption of your metabolism, leading to disturbed gut health, creating further problems with metabolism.
THE BOTTOM LINE AND RECOMMENDATIONS
It is always better to limit your dairy consumption. Drinking almond, soy, hemp, or even oat milk is a good substitute for milk products. All of these will help maintain bone health in the absence of dairy milk. Vitamin D intake is also crucially important for bone health. It is recommended to take at least 1000 to 1500 international units daily, or a once-a-week capsule with 7000 units of vitamin D. Even more beneficial is to obtain your vitamin D and calcium from dark leafy green vegetables because of the added benefit of the fibre they provide. Fibre is critical for your gut microbiome, so this is vital in controlling weight and overall gut health.
Dr Arun Dhir is a gastrointestinal surgeon, author and health and wellness mentor. He has been performing weight loss surgery for over two decades and has authored several books in this space. His life mission is to educate and empower individuals to create lasting transformations.