Living with Lactose

Frida Alvarado, staff writer

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Cow’s milk has been labelled as one of the easiest and efficient ways to get calcium and other nutrients for decades; however, in recent years, the consumption of milk has decreased. More people are asking themselves if milk is actually healthy.

Today, the average person drinks 18 gallons of milk a year, but in the 1970s, that number was about 30 gallons a year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Along with that, the sales of milk alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, and others increased 61 percent from 2012 to 2017, according to Mintel, a company that focuses on market intelligence.

“I know that when you go to a dermatologist, they ask you not to drink too much milk, which is why my opinion on almond milk being superior is valid,” said Gianna Palanzo, a sophomore.  

Dairy has been praised for its high nutrition profile. It is rich in protein, fat, and calcium. Just one cup of milk has 28 percent of the recommended daily amount of calcium. A study done in 2013 by Nature Research showed that dairy helped people feel fuller and reduced how much fat they intake overall. Along with appetite control, it also helps with kids bone development and have better bone health later on.

“I like regular milk, but I really don’t like almond milk. I really wanted to when I tried it, but it’s disgusting. I know being dairy-free is better for you and that there is dairy-free milk, but I just don’t see the hype about it. I have milk about five times a week because I drink it in my coffee,” said Sammy O’Connor, a sophomore.

Although milk provides many nutrients, there are claims and research to show that milk may not be all that great. The consumption of milk has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, an increase in acne, and more.

In excess, calcium, phosphorus, or vitamin D may disrupt biochemical processes. But milk contains nutrients that are necessary for bone health, maintaining heart health, and reducing the risk of cancer,” said Susan Duncan, the vice president of American Dairy Science Association.

Despite the nutritional benefits of milk, there are continued issues with allergies. About 65 percent of the worldwide population is lactose intolerant, according to the US National Library of Medicine. Some people with lactose intolerance can still tolerate yogurt or other products containing dairy, they just cannot drink a glass of milk.

The prevalence of food allergies in children has also increased approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, now affecting 1 in 13 children in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the most common allergens is dairy. Along with that, people can have a sensitivity to casein, one of the proteins found in milk. It is different from an allergy and lactose intolerance because it can trigger inflammation throughout the body, producing symptoms like sinus congestion, acne flares, skin rashes, and migraines.