Important health benefits
Many of us grew up with the idea that milk is a must-have for a healthy diet. But lately milk’s health properties have come into question. Some people avoid it, fearing it will make them gain weight, while a few grassroots groups have claimed it can cause diseases ranging from osteoporosis to Alzheimer’s. So is milk bad news?
It is for those with a true allergy to it, which accounts for about one percent of adults. They must avoid cow’s milk (and may opt for rice or soy beverages). Some with lactose intolerance-which affects at least seven million Canadians who don’t produce an enzyme to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk-may also opt for rice, soy or goat’s milk. ( “Goat’s milk has a slightly different protein structure that, for some people, may be more easily digestible,” says Desirée Nielsen, a registered dietitian in Delta, B.C.) But many people who are lactose intolerant can drink cow’s milk if they take the enzyme lactase with it, or they can try lactose-free milk instead.
What about everyone else; is milk good? “For most people, milk doesn’t cause any problems,” says Dr. Dara Maker, a Toronto physician. In fact, it offers important health benefits. Here are three.