Processed Dairy Consumption: Pros and cons

chrisboshgiraffeMy body’s aversion toward processed dairy and my mind’s aversion toward highly processed products have significantly restricted my dairy intake throughout my life. But milk and milk products are often spun positively in the media. For example, about 90% of Americans are aware of the got milk campaign that the National Fluid Milk Processor Education Board licenses to dairy boards across the country. [1] But does dairy deserve the positive media profile it maintains?

Pros

  • Studies have found that regular dairy consumption reduces your likelihood of developing chronic a metabolic or heart disease[2][3]
  • Dairy consumption is positively correlated with children’s growth and development[4]
  • Consuming dairy products also boosts the effects of weight loss regimen[5]

Cons

  • Most of the dairy we consume has been highly processed, and comes from animals that are unnaturally fed and poorly treated. Processing includes pasteurization and homogenization, which significantly alter the chemical make-up of the dairy most people consume.
  • The protein:carbohydrate:fat ratio of whole milk (the least processed dairy) leans heavily toward fat[6] but this can and should be compensated for through eating naturally fat-free foods like vegetables.
  • Milk is also high in sugars [7]
  • Many people are lactose intolerant, which prevents their body from properly digesting dairy

From my perspective, there are enough dairy cons and not so many pros to justify a daily dose of processed dairy. Most of the research that is semi-official seems to be funded by the industry it supports, which lends itself to inherent bias. Furthermore, the media coverage and studies I’ve found about unprocessed dairy products seem to be even more biased. Nevertheless, I’m not going to stop consuming it because I enjoy dairy, but I am planning to look further into unprocessed dairy to determine if it’s a healthier alternative to the pasteurized and homogenized products with which I personally struggle.

Here is the original got milk commercial that aired in 1993. Since then, per capita dairy consumption in the United States has increased 6.1% according to the USDA.[8]