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Is Milk Really White Poison? See What Experts Have To Say

New Delhi: The claim that milk is a ‘white poison’ is a controversial one, and opinions on the matter are divided. While some individuals and groups say that milk is harmful to human health, others argue that it is a valuable source of nutrition. Now, an important thing to note here is that the process of pasteurisation reduces the milk’s nutritional value while it extends the shelf life of the product. It strips the milk of its enzymes and vitamins A, B12, and C, introducing antibiotics and hormones into the milk during the procedure.

Additionally, the beneficial bacteria present in raw cow milk are destroyed by pasteurisation. It eliminates all of the phosphatases and kills the natural enzymes, both of which are necessary for calcium absorption. Together with vitamin D, calcium strengthens the immune system and is essential for children’s growth and health. So, does that mean milk is really a ‘white poison‘? 

To answer this, ABP Live sought the opinions of experts who explained both the pros and cons of consuming milk.

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Pros Of consuming Milk:

Dr Sauren Panja, Senior Consultant & Administrative Lead- Critical Care Services (Critical Care, Internal Medicine) at RN Tagore Hospital Kolkata explained that milk is consumed on an almost daily basis by millions and has its own potential health effects. While milk is a healthy source of calcium, protein and other nutrients, the hormones and additives in modern dairy farming practices may have negative impacts on people’s health.

Additionally, Dr. Rajkumar, Sr. Consultant- Internal Medicine at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi added that milk provides various essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, and protein, which are important for maintaining strong bones, healthy teeth, and fostering muscle growth. It is also a source of vitamin B12, which is needed for the formation of red blood cells and neurological function, and it helps in keeping the body hydrated and provides energy throughout the day. Additionally, it is important for older men and women to consume low-fat milk to maintain bone density and retain calcium levels in their bodies. 

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Reasons For Calling Milk ‘A White Pison’:

Experts claim that milk might be called ‘white poison’ owing to the respective dietary requirements and prevailing health conditions of people. It is not suitable for people who are lactose intolerant or those who have any underlying disease.

Dr Sauren Panja said, “Milk being called ‘white poison’ is likely due to concerns about lactose intolerance, which is a common condition that causes diarrhoea and different digestive symptoms after consuming dairy products. High amounts of dairy intake also increase risks of certain health conditions, such as prostate and ovarian cancer and bone fractures (though debatable). It is extremely important to determine your milk intake on the basis of your dietary needs, age and health concerns for making it a healthy addition to your routine diet.”

Emphasising the point raised by Dr. Sauren Panja, Dr. Rajkumar also said that it might be unsuitable for people having lactose intolerance. He then went on to provide healthy alternatives for people who cannot consume milk. He said, “For those, there are many alternative sources like leafy greens and fortified plant-based milk like soy or almond milk which can help them in maintaining the calcium and protein required. Eating a well-balanced diet in addition to consuming dairy will definitely help one achieve their nutrition goals.”

Clinical Dietitian and Food Scientist Priyam Sharma added, “Some PCOS sufferers also believe lactose is an aggravating sugar for their problems. Milk and other dairy products contain a hormone known as Insulin-like Growth Factor 1, which promotes the production of androgen hormones such as testosterone, which can worsen hormonal imbalances not only in cases of testosterone dominance but also when there is an excess of oestrogen as testosterone.”

“So, lactose-rich milk or dairy products must be avoided in some conditions. The non-dairy milk like cashew milk, almond milk, peanut milk, coconut milk, oat milk etc. are good to go.”, she further continued.

Also, Anupama Menon, who is a Nutritionist and Lifestyle Coach further confirmed this saying, “Women who are estrogen dominant or have high levels of prolactin, whether due to stress or other causes, may benefit from avoiding milk.”

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The Quality of Milk Matters:

In this regard, Anupama Menon said, “One key factor that influences the perception of milk is the quality of the product available in the market. In the modern world, milk often comes from cows that are injected with hormones beyond the permissible limit. This compromises the health benefits of milk. However, if you can obtain authentic organic milk, I believe it can be consumed in moderate quantities. Additionally, milk derived from buffaloes is also a viable alternative.”

Milk, like any other food, can be subject to adulteration due to farming and grazing practices. However, this issue extends to other food categories such as meats, crops, vegetables, and fruits. To mitigate these concerns, it is essential to strive for organic options whenever possible, particularly when it comes to dairy products, select fruits, and vegetables. Additionally, practising proper washing, cleaning, and storage techniques can further enhance food safety.”, she further added.

The notion of milk being labelled a “white poison” is a complex and multifaceted issue. While the quality of milk available in the market and individual sensitivities must be considered, it is important to approach nutrition on an individual basis. Adhering to organic options, implementing proper food hygiene practices, and developing an understanding of one’s own body are key steps toward making informed dietary choices. Ultimately, the decision to include or avoid milk should be based on personal health considerations and preferences. 

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