Of all the topics I get asked about (or reluctantly pulled into a debate about) milk is, surprisingly, one of the most emotionally charged. People have very strong opinions about milk—and that’s okay. But opinions are one thing, and facts are another. There’s an awful lot of confusion and misinformation out there about milk. Whether you serve cow’s milk, plant-based milk, or none of the above to your family, it’s important to have the correct information. Here are five milk myths I hear the most (and the truth):
1. Milk is the Best Source of Calcium.
While milk is a great source of calcium, it is certainly not the best. For instance, two tablespoons of chia seeds have six times more calcium then milk! According to the National Institute of Nutrition in India, 100 ml of milk contains 125mg of calcium while 100 grams of ragi contains a whopping 344mg of calcium. It is also believed that after the age of 3 our bodies lose the ability to break down the milk proteins (casein) which inhibits the absorption of calcium from milk. Moreover, you need an optimum amount of Vitamin D in your body to be able to absorb the calcium from foods.
2. Boiling Milk Reduces its Nutrients
While raw milk procured straight from dairy farms must be boiled to remove bacteria, you can choose to decide whether or not you want to boil packaged milk that has already been pasteurized. Even if you do, it will not affect the quality of nutrients that milk contains. Delhi-based Nutritionist Shalini Manglani tells us, “There are no harmful effects of boiling the milk again and again. It wouldn’t lose its nutritional value.”
3. Drinking Milk Causes Bloating.
While this may be true for people who are lactose intolerant, in general milk may not cause bloating or gas but having it in combination with certain foods may. For instance, you should never have milk with fruits as this makes it an acidic combination that can lead to indigestion, suggests Nutritionist Shilpa Arora. “You can add spices like cinnamon and turmeric for better availability of milk’s protein to the body,” So, if you feel bloated, it is probably your gut that is unable to digest milk, In that case, try having it with a bowl of cereal or have it lightly brewed with tea leaves and Tulsi to improve your digestive functions.
4. Kids Need a Lot of Milk.
To get the calcium and nutrients they need, toddlers only need two cups of dairy a day. Kids ages 4-8 should get 2.5 cups, and older kids and teens need three. But keep in mind that one cup of dairy equals either a cup of milk, a cup of yogurt, or 1.5 ounces of cheese. So kids don’t need to be chugging milk all day. In fact, over-consuming milk can be a problem among young kids, whose appetites may be blunted by milk, resulting in iron-deficiency if they’re not eating enough food.
5. Humans Can’t Digest Cow’s Milk.
It’s true that some people have trouble digesting lactose, the natural sugar in milk. But this varies widely by ethnic groups, affecting as many as 90 percent of people of East Asian descent but only five percent of those with Northern European roots. Even among those with lactose intolerance, some people are still able to digest small amounts of dairy without issue.