Milk and dairy products have been a staple food in many healthy cultures around the world for thousands of years. The use of whole dairy products was even a basic tenet of American medicine well into the 20th century. “The Father of Modern Medicine”, Sir William Osler, routinely prescribed fresh, whole cows milk to his patients. The combination of bed rest and (high-fat) milk was called “the milk cure.”
Modern “Low Fat Dairy” Opinion
Over the last 50+ years, experts have claimed that saturated fats such as those found in dairy products cause many problems including weight gain, heart disease and even early death. These experts have told us to eat low fat dairy products such as skim milk and fat-free yoghurt.
Scientific Evidence Surrounding Low Fat Dairy Products
- There is still no proof for the basic theory that cutting dietary fat helps people live longer or healthier lives.1,2 And many recent studies suggest that low-fat dairy is not so healthy after all. Recent scientific studies show that:
- Women who eat low-fat dairy have higher rates of infertility, while women who eat whole dairy are much more fertile. 3
- Skim milk may cause acne. 4
- Low-fat dairy actually may actually cause weight gain, while whole dairy does not. (In this Harvard study of over 12,000 children, the children who ate low-fat dairy got fatter, while the kids eating whole dairy did not).5
- Low-fat dairy is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. 6
- Dairy fat actually seems to lower the risk of colon cancer. 7
MY CONCLUSION: Low-fat dairy products may be bad for us. Human history and science seem to indicate that whole (full-fat) dairy products are a safer choice.
Note: Historically, most people have eaten dairy in its “raw” (unpasteurized) form which contains many nutrients and beneficial bacteria that are destroyed by processing. It is likely that uncontaminated raw dairy is the best tolerated and most nutritious form of milk.
1- Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease. Hooper L, Summerbell CD, Higgins JPT, Thompson RL, Clements G, Capps N, Davey Smith G, Riemersma RA, Ebrahim S. The Cochrane Library 2004, Issue 1. See p9.
2-http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/322/7289/757?ck=nck (see: BMJ 2001;322:757 (31 March)
3-Hum Reprod. 2007 May;22(5):1340-7. Epub 2007 Feb 28.
4-J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 May;58(5):787-93. Epub 2008 Jan 14.
5-Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Jun;159(6):543-50.
6-Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 May; 81(5):1147-54.
7-Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Oct;82(4):894-900.