Lactose intolerence: Do we need cows’ milk?

Lactose intolerance produces uncomfortable or even painful symptoms after dairy consumption. Do we need cows’ milk? According to Michael Klaper, MD, "The human body has no more need for cows’ milk that it does for dogs’ milk, horses’ milk, or giraffes’ milk."


Lactose Intolerance Do we need cows’ milk?

By CyberParent Staff

The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance are uncomfortable abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and even diarrhea, after consuming dairy foods.

Do we need cows’ milk?

What about those of us who can’t drink milk without pain, bloating, and gas? What will happen to our bones?

Let’s start with people who can’t drink milk.

Virtually all infants and small children have the lactase enzymes that split lactose into glucose and galactose. Lactase persistence, the retention of the lactase enzyme into adulthood, is not consistent among individuals or even among ethnic groups.

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According to Michael Klaper, MD, "The human body has no more need for cows’ milk that it does for dogs’ milk, horses’ milk, or giraffes’ milk." A decline in lactase activity with age is normal and it is termed lactase nonpersistence, better known to the general public as lactose intolerance.

Those who lack entirely or have a greatly reduced amount of the lactase enzyme may experience the signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance: uncomfortable abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and even diarrhea, after consuming dairy foods.

Patricia Bertron, RD, Neal D Barnard, MD, and Milton Mills, MD, in the Journal of the National Medical Association, Vol. 91, No. 3, write, "Symptoms can occur even with modest milk servings,"

Although yogurt and cheese products are less likely to cause the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance, most cheese is high in fat, which could lead to other health problems.

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Commercial milk products can be modified to split lactose into glucose and galactose thus allowing dairy consumption while avoiding the symptoms of lactose in tolerance. Pills are even available to stop the pain from milk consumption.

But, why?

Although milk is currently advocated for one primary nutritional purpose–a source of calcium to slow osteoporosis–calcium can be obtained from other sources. In fact, there is increasing controversy over the merits of calcium obtained from milk for bone density.

Bertron, Barnard, and Mills write, "Bone integrity is influenced, not by calcium intake alone, but by calcium balance, which is affected by genetic, dietary, and lifestyle factors, including animal protein, sodium, tobacco, physical activity, Vitamin D, medications, and possibly caffeine."

R.P Heaney wrote for the Journal of the American Diet Association that animal protein increases calcium losses. This is due in part to the action of sulfate produced in the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids. Sulfate filters through the kidneys, carrying calcium with it. Doubling protein intake increases urinary calcium losses by about 50%.

In fact, the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, which included 85,900 women in 1980, showed that high consumption of animal protein was associated with an increased risk of forearm fracture.

Other reviews of fracture rates also report a positive relationship between animal protein intake and fracture rates.

Dairy products are high in animal protein.

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The goal of CyberParent is to bring you true, correct, and up-to-date nutritional information that is not influenced by the financial considerations of advertising and advertisers. The opinions expressed herein are those ofthe authors. They are not medical advice and do not necessarily express the position ofCyberParent. Please consult your medical professional.

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