Five Dairy Myths Busted

Five truths about milk products and how they affect your performance

Posted: 29 October 2010
by Kelly Bastone

Dairy can be as polarising as politics. Some athletes claim cow's milk causes stomach aches, aggravates inflammation and produces phlegm; others tout its benefits.

Milk products contain loads of vitamin D, calcium and high-quality proteins that provide the full spectrum of amino acids necessary for rebuilding muscle cells. In fact, several studies have shown that milk's blend of protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes (such as potassium and magnesium) make it as effective as a sports drink.

"Milk is good for you, but there's a time and place for it," explains Robert Kunz, of endurance-specific sports nutrition company First Endurance. Here, we explain where and when dairy does your body good.

Myth 1: Dairy helps you lose weight

The truth
A clinical review published in May 2008 found that among 49 studies examining dairy and body weight, only five produced evidence of weight loss. Most concluded that dairy has no effect, and a few studies resulted in subjects gaining pounds. "Dairy is nutrient-dense," says dietician Cara Marrs. Don't expect to shave pounds with low-fat versions; one cup of two per cent milk contains 138 calories - eight fewer than a cup of whole milk.

Myth 2: Dairy increases mucus production

The truth
Several studies, including a 2005 review published in the Journal
of the American College of Nutrition, found no measurable mucus increase among milk drinkers. "Yet I've had cyclists tell me that drinking milk makes them cough stuff up during their ride," says Roberta Anding, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. The culprit could be certain genes that may cause increased mucus production. Anding recommends triathletes perform a self-test: if dairy produces phlegm that clogs your breathing, don't drink any until after your ride.

Myth 3: Dairy triggers inflammation

The truth
"There's mixed evidence on whether dairy is pro- or anti-inflammatory," says Anding. One study published in the June 2008 Journal of Nutrition suggests that milk products reduce inflammation, but other trials have documented increases. That's why Kunz recommends that triathletes eliminate dairy for several days before a major endurance event. "It seems to cause inflammation in the gut," he says, which can keep triathletes from efficiently absorbing carbs, electrolytes and other nutrients that are critical for their peak performance.

Myth 4: Dairy is difficult to digest

The truth
For some individuals, this is true. "Some people lack lactase, an enzyme that digests lactose, a sugar found in milk," Marrs explains. Genetics, ethnicity and age (over time, some people's lactase levels decline) can influence the ability to produce lactase. But Marrs cautions against eliminating dairy from your diet. "When you cut out entire food groups, you're limiting your nutrition intake," she says. If milk upsets your stomach, try yoghurt or experiment with various cheeses (aged cheeses are lower in lactose). "Try to pinpoint the aggravating foods rather than assuming that all milk products are indigestible," adds Marrs.

Myth 5: Dairy strengthens bones

The truth
A 2009 trial published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that milk-fed rats had stronger, denser bones than those that consumed calcium carbonate (a supplement). 

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Uhm, this doesn't make ANY sense:

Myth 5: Dairy strengthens bones

The truth 

A 2009 trial published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that milk-fed rats had stronger, denser bones than those that consumed calcium carbonate (a supplement). 


 That basically states that milk DOES strengthen bones, ergo, it isn't a myth... 

Posted: 07/11/2010 at 05:01

If thats the case how come levels of osteoporosis are much higher in the high milk consuming countries than those where consumption of dairy products is a rarity

First question you need to ask in these cases is who funded the research

There is no such thing as pure science and research these days.  You probably find research to backup any view you like provided you are careful about the sources you select


Posted: 07/11/2010 at 13:05

Spot on!  There is definitely no such thing as pure science and research these days.  Other things there are no such things of are politicians that aren't corrupt, dogs that don't bite runners at every opportunity, and people who spout ridiculous generalisations on the internet who aren't complete bell ends.
Posted: 07/11/2010 at 15:46

Thats rubbish, I often spout generalisations  and I just looked in the mirror and I wasnt a complete bell end. That proves it!!
Posted: 07/11/2010 at 19:26

Or did it prove your statement?!?!
Posted: 07/11/2010 at 19:28

Interesting to read something that isn't funded by the MIlk Marketing Board. The below is another view on it all, I've stopped all dairy for a while now and feel great, I get all my calcium from green veg as it's far more efficient than dairy.....

Posted: 07/11/2010 at 20:04

Can't beat breast milk!!
Posted: 07/11/2010 at 20:28

"bell end" is such a pretty phrase. So sad that it refers to something...quite...LESS pretty...
Posted: 07/11/2010 at 21:01

Here's a dairy myth - Mcdonald's cheese is actually cheese.
Posted: 07/11/2010 at 21:22

AndrewSmith wrote (see)
Can't beat breast milk!!

Is that what you told Ferret !!
Posted: 07/11/2010 at 21:27

You CAN beat it - but don't expect to make butter out of it.
Posted: 07/11/2010 at 21:29

No whey!!!
Posted: 07/11/2010 at 22:40

So how do they get the holes into that rubbery holey cheeses( emantal??)

Posted: 07/11/2010 at 22:46

well trained robot mice.


Posted: 07/11/2010 at 22:54

Re Maddy's comment:

Could be more sunshine or more weight bearing excercise. Comparing countries isn't like for like- too many confounding variables! Correlation does not mean cause.

Posted: 17/11/2010 at 16:59

Yes but when Maddy posted that I thought it was interesting and a quick bit of looking around the internet suggests that what research there is suggests there might be something in what she says.   Interesting as  most of us probably believe milk would help with bone density - or at least not decrease it.   

I know a quick google isn't conclusive proof.

Posted: 17/11/2010 at 17:51

Dairy Facts we do know

1. McDonlads cheese isn't cheese

2. Cows can't motorbike (but can ride in side cars)

Posted: 17/11/2010 at 17:57

Posted: 17/11/2010 at 18:05

Many thanks for pointing out the error DTB
Posted: 17/11/2010 at 18:08

lol, pleased to be helpful!
Posted: 17/11/2010 at 22:06

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