Ask Will: Dissing Dairy

Dear Will, 
Our son and daughter-in-law have informed us that based upon advice of co-workers in the medical profession, they will give our grandson almond milk rather than regular milk once he’s off formula. 

I may be old school, but I’ve never heard of such a thing unless a child is allergic to regular milk.  Is there medical evidence that this is better for a toddler or for that matter a child of any age? 

Thank you, 

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Hi Bob, 

I totally understand their concerns, as it’s so common lately to hear how milk has become the secret cause of every health problem from obesity and heart disease to colic, constipation, and cancer! Even high profile organizations (such as the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine) aggressively market this way of thinking that turns out to be very anti-dairy.  

Fair enough, and groups like this are certainly entitled to push their perspective, but there’s far more going on and, for our kids’ health, we need BOTH sides of the story to truly get a clear picture.  

The first and most pedestrian reason to avoid dairy would be due to milk allergies. But 97.5% of all children under 3 years old do NOT have an allergy to milk (source here), and most of the remaining 2.5% outgrow as they grow. If you happen to have a child with a dairy allergy, don’t give them dairy. 

But the biggest reason cited to eliminate dairy for our kids comes down to the claim that it causes systemic inflammation in the body. 

In this article “The Dangers of Dairy”, we read that Dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet, second only to gluten. How could they possibly make such a strong assertion — that your yogurt is THE MOST inflammatory food behind gluten — unless there were definitive evidence? 

Does Dairy Cause Inflammation?

If this were true, the consumption of any form of dairy would lead to a closet full of health problems: cardiovascular disease, asthma, allergies, arthritis, auto-immune disorders, cancer, and others. Anyone who eats any dairy would suffer from all of these ailments.  

Reading claims like this is very frustrating, and feels like someone who is simply echoing what everyone happens to be saying right now. So I took the time to look up some actual studies that investigated the claims. 

Here are some highlights: 

1. In a systematic review of randomized controlled nutritional intervention studies, they found that circulating inflammatory and atherogenic biomarkers are NOT increased following meals of dairy foods.

2. “Dairy product consumption does not exert adverse effects on biomarkers of inflammation in overweight or obese adults.” 

3. Study: Dairy Product Consumption Has No Impact on Biomarkers of Inflammation among Men and Women with Low-Grade Systemic Inflammation. As a matter of fact, Among subjects, significant falls occurred … in inflammatory biomarkers after cream and butter

4. “Consistent with data from previous work, these results suggest that short-term consumption of a combination of low- and high-fat dairy products as part of a healthy diet have no adverse effects on inflammation.” 

Not only do these studies show that dairy is not inflammatory, in this review we indicate how milk proteins could be useful for the prophylaxis and therapy of intestinal inflammation in infants and children.” 


For intestinal inflammation. 

In children. 

So Bob, your sense of things is spot-on. If your grandchild is one of the 97.5% of people who do not have a dairy allergy, then there is really no reason (based on nutrition research) to move them away from dairy.  

Of course, as with all things, you do have to eat it in control. But this is the case not matter what you’re eating. 

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower’s website.

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