Dairy and How it Impacts Your Body

“If you want to grow up big and strong, you better drink your milk.” This phrase is a common classic from many childhoods across America. Dairy products were a staple substance and belonged in a food group that our parents greatly pushed onto us. It was such an essential staple to so many families that some believed that it was one of the healthiest products to have. This was also perpetuated by developing dairy factories and producers that wanted to sell more of their products as well as scientists at the time praising dairy for having various nutrients needed to sustain a healthy life. Times have since rapidly changed and now more developments about dairy and the complex reaction that it has when humans consume it are starting to appear. 

For years, dairy was seen as an essential substance to anyone’s diet if they wanted to be considered healthy. The outdated food pyramid that so many people were shown when they were younger seems to have shown that having dairy was almost as important as fruits and vegetables. In the 90s and early 2000s, the American government pushed the idea of needing dairy and the importance of milk, and this was most notably seen through the campaign featured slogans like the infamous ‘Got Milk?” posters that were ingrained into families’ minds at the time. 

Recent studies have now shown that a large portion of people are lactose intolerant to some degree, with some estimating that as high as 1 in 4 people are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance means that someone doesn’t create the proper enzymes needed to consume products that have lactose in them, which includes products like dairy. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, inflammation, stomach cramps, constipation, and other digestive issues. Scientists have now started to publish important findings that say dairy causes some forms of inflammation in most people, and this inflammation can lead to varying degrees of discomfort and pain. Although various studies have concluded many different findings, other studies have come to the previous conclusion that dairy causes inflammation. These developments pushed health agencies in America to change the amount of dairy that was said to be needed by people. The food pyramid was thus deemed outdated and now we have The Healthy Eating Plate, where dairy is much less essential in this diagram. 

More and more scientists have started to push the idea that dairy is completely unnecessary in an adult human. Although dairy has calcium and protein which is needed to have a healthy life, too much dairy can lead to a host of ailments later on in life. Dairy may have these essential components needed but many healthier alternatives can also have them. A dairy rich diet has been linked to high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, digestive issues, and many more ailments that can have negative impacts on the human body. These health and medical developments also come at a time when animal and environmental rights are on the rise. As dairy is slowly pushed away from its once ‘healthy standard’, animal and environmental activist begin to point out the unhealthiness that comes with dairy as a main talking point when bringing up the negative impacts that dairy and dairy farming has on the environment as a whole as well as the atrocities that come with factory farming which is the main method of dairy farming in America and around the world. 

For decades scientists have looked back on previous data only to come to new developments and realize that something we once thought was healthy and acceptable for people has now been found to have negative and chronic impacts on people and their lives. This scary development allows for introspection on the way we conduct research, how we listen to experts and their findings, and how we develop laws and actions regarding these findings. As people become more and more knowledgeable and technologies continue to advance, we will hopefully be able to further create a world that is the safest for the people living on it.

References:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-pyramid/

https://www.vox.com/2016/5/2/11565698/big-government-helps-big-dairy-sell-milk
https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/healthy-eating/dairy-and-inflammation.php

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/dairy-health-food-or-health-risk-2019012515849

https://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/dairy/

Carlos Martinez-Mejia