Have you bought these common myths about dairy?October 14th, 2020
For most of our lives, advertisements have told us that cow’s milk is good for us, that we need it for strong bones, or if we are to have any chance of making New Zealand’s Olympic team. But is this backed up by science? Or is it just clever advertising? Mooove over dairy, because we’re about to debunk your health claims.
‘We need dairy for strong bones’
We need calcium for strong bones, not cow’s milk and other dairy products. In fact, the British Medical Journal has published an analysis that concluded that most studies have failed to show any link between dairy intake and prevention of broken bones, or fractures.
Any nutrients found in cow’s milk are not unique. We can get all the calcium our bones need from far healthier, plant-based sources. These include leafy green veggies such as bok choy and kale, as well as broccoli, black beans, oats, tahini, almonds, kiwi fruit, oranges and beans! Tofu and tempeh are great sources, too.
The bonus of plant-based sources of calcium? For one, they aren’t laden with the saturated fats and cholesterol that are found in cow’s milk and other dairy products. Plant-based sources of calcium are loaded with a bunch of extra nutrients like vitamin K, potassium and magnesium, which (alongside calcium) help to keep our bones healthy and strong. Not to mention the fibre, additional minerals and vitamins and abundance of cancer-fighting antioxidants that whole, plant-based sources contain.
‘Dairy is a health food’
Kiwis rank third in the world as consumers of fresh cow’s milk. But unfortunately, it’s doing us more harm than good. That’s because cow’s milk and dairy products are the main source of saturated fats in the Kiwi diet and contain high levels of cholesterol. This is okay for a rapidly growing calf who quadruples their weight in the first 10 months of life ‒ but in humans, it’s increasing our risk of serious health issues. And considering that a Kiwi dies every 90 minutes from heart disease, it’s a risk we need to minimise.
‘Cholesterol is good for you’
Cholesterol is an essential component of our cell membranes and plays an integral role in the synthesis of our hormones. But our livers can produce all the cholesterol our bodies need ‒ we don’t have to consume additional cholesterol in our diet. But by regularly eating cow’s milk and dairy foods we’re ingesting harmful levels of excess cholesterol, and the saturated fat in these foods triggers our liver to produce even more cholesterol. Yikes!
‘There are no hormones in New Zealand dairy’
While it is illegal in both New Zealand and Australia to administer hormones to dairy cows (a practice permitted in the United States to increase milk production) that doesn’t mean there are no hormones in cow’s milk. Dairy cows naturally produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone to facilitate the rapid growth and development of their calves. The whey proteins that are abundant in cow’s milk and dairy products cause our bodies to boost the production of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). There is growing research linking IGF-1 to an increase in our risk of breast and prostate cancers.
‘Dairy makes athletes strong’
The only help that dairy provides for athletes? Funding. But while Anchor helped New Zealand athletes by sponsoring them for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, eating their products will have done nothing for their performance.
That’s because cow’s milk, and therefore dairy products, induces an inflammatory response in our bodies. As any athlete will know, inflammation is not a good thing, as it can inhibit the ability of oxygen to access working muscles efficiently to provide the energy required to help us reach our peak performance. Inflammation also hinders muscle repair, meaning we won’t recover as quickly after exercise.
The best way to fuel your workout and facilitate a speedy recovery? A diet based on vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits and some nuts and seeds. That way you’re eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which will support and even improve your athletic performance.
Discover how great you’ll feel by giving dairy-free eating a try! Kickstart a healthier lifestyle by signing up to our Dairy-Free Challenge! You’ll discover just how nutritious, rewarding and delicious it can be to nourish your body with nutrient-dense dairy-free foods!