Skim milk may do your body harm. As Independent Living reported last December, milk isn’t as healthy as its reputation would suggest. And the milk products long thought to be the healthiest – namely, low-fat and skim milk varieties – may be the least healthy of them all. That’s what the latest research suggests.
In October, scientists reported in the Journal of Nutrition that consumers of whole milk are less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome (a precursor to heart disease and diabetes). According to the researchers, “Dietary recommendations to avoid fullfat dairy intake are not supported by our findings.”
In other words, the government’s Dietary Guidelines, which have long recommended only low-fat or non-fat dairy products, are misguided.
The Real Skinny on Fats
Removing the natural fats found in milk removes some nutrients in the process. Moreover, low-fat milk contains a higher proportion of carbohydrates. A growing body of research suggests that it’s primarily carbs and sugars behind the obesity epidemic. Fats aren’t the main culprits.
As The Guardian (October, 2015) reports, “research has shown that because fat is more satiating, or filling, eating some higher fat foods can lead to lower calorie intake overall.”
The most important dietary decision you will make is not whether you include high-fat foods in your diet. Some fatty foods are fine – in moderation. What matters is how much total calories you take in.
Not all calories are created equal, of course. Highquality calories from fresh fruits and vegetables need to be included in your diet. But if you like butter on your broccoli and whole milk in your cereal, don’t feel guilty about indulging a little bit.
The extreme low-fat diet has been discredited again and again. Yet government health “experts” are so slow to get with the latest research, so resistant to admitting they were wrong, and so bound by groupthink, that it can take years or even decades for them to change the Dietary Guidelines.
Washington Post columnist Peter Whoriskey wrote that the latest findings on whole milk have “underscored the idea that millions of people might have been healthier had they ignored the government’s advice.”
Unfortunately, it’s true. Since 1975, consumption of whole milk has dropped by 60%. Over that same period, sales of 2% milk, 1% milk, and skim milk have increased between 105% and 170%, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Americans went low-fat because they thought it would help them get thin. Instead, their waistlines continued to expand. Because health officials spread the wrong advice.
Are Raw Milk Risks Overblown?
The government’s credibility when it comes to raw (unpasteurized) milk is also suspect. The Food and Drug Administration warns, “Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria.…raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family.”
Federal law prohibits the distribution of raw milk across state lines. And 17 states prohibit farms and grocers from selling raw milk to the public. Advocates of raw milk say it is healthier than the milk that comes from factory-farmed cows that are injected with hormones and antibiotics. Moreover, pasteurization can destroy natural digestive enzymes. Unpasteurized milk from organic farms retains more nutritional properties that may be beneficial to the immune system.
This isn’t an endorsement of raw milk. There are benefits as well as risks you should consider. But ultimately the choice should be yours. Since raw milk is largely an underground market, it can be difficult to get good information on whose raw milk products are safe. In general, if you don’t know where the raw milk came from, then don’t consume it.