Turns out that all those years of milk and cookies haven’t been doing Santa any favors. This year, he’s finally breaking his silence and letting the world know that he is lactose intolerant.
Up to 65 percent of people in the world are unable to digest lactose, with that number rising to 90 percent within certain ethnic groups. Data show that approximately 79 percent of Native Americans are lactose intolerant. So are 75 percent of African Americans and more than 50 percent of Hispanics. Asians have a 90 percent statistic of lactose intolerance. Some say that, prior to moving to the North Pole, Santa Claus used to be Saint Nicholas, a Greek bishop. Since there is a lactose intolerance rate of 75 percent among people of Greek descent, it’s no surprise that Santa wants to ditch the dairy.
Consuming dairy products can actually have worse consequences than ending up on Santa’s naughty list. Just two and a half servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese per day can increase the risk of prostate cancer by 34 percent. Mrs. Claus would also benefit from switching to plant milk, since dairy milk consumption has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer, with dairy products contributing up to 70 percent of the estrogen intake in the Western diet. A 2012 study debunked the idea of milk building strong bones. Researchers found that active girls who consumed the most dairy double their risk of bone fracture than girls who consumed less dairy. The study linked good bone health with vitamin D consumption—a nutrient not naturally found in dairy products.
The saturated fat and cholesterol in dairy also contribute to heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Trying to lower fat intake by switching to skim adds a new complication—sugar. One cup of skim milk has just about as much sugar as five Hershey’s Kisses.
Instead of leaving Santa a glass of dairy milk, why not try an energizing green smoothie? Not only is the color more seasonally appropriate, a green smoothie is packed with fiber and antioxidants to keep Santa feeling full between rooftops.
Science Contradicts Milk Marketing
This week, another study has illustrated that milk actually has a negative effect on bone health. Researchers in Sweden published findings in the British Medical Journal showing that women who drink milk have a higher incidence of bone fractures—and an increased risk of mortality from heart disease and cancer.
According to the study, women who consume three or more glasses of milk per day have a 60 percent increased risk of developing a hip fracture and a 93 percent increased risk of death. And each glass of milk increases mortality risk by 15 percent.
However, this news should not come as a shock to anyone outside of the dairy industry’s advertising department. A 2005 review in Pediatrics showed that milk has no effect on preventing stress fractures in girls. In fact, the research linked higher milk consumption with higher fracture risk.
For strong, healthy bones, it’s important to have enough calcium and vitamin D. However, animal products tend to leech calcium from bones, yet plant foods do not have this effect. One cup of collards has 268 mg of calcium. Spinach has 245 mg in a single cup, while a cup of soybeans has 261 mg. When you take fortified orange juice and fortified tofu into account, it’s easy to obtain more than the daily calcium recommendation of 1,000 mg.
Regardless of what milk marketers would have you believe, vitamin D is not naturally occurring in dairy milk. Last week, we examined a recent Canadian study suggesting that children who consumed dairy milk had higher levels of vitamin D. After reviewing the research, we learned that the dairy milk was fortified—while the plant milks were not. Any fortified non-dairy beverage can provide the necessary nutrients, without the cholesterol and saturated fat found in milk.
The science is there: milk does a body bad. Let’s wipe off the milk mustaches and remove milk from the school lunch line. To learn how you can help get milk out of schools, visit www.HealthySchoolLunches.org.
Breakfast is in trouble. From McDonald’s Egg McMuffin to Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco, breakfast trends continue to veer into unhealthy territory and skyrocket in fat and cholesterol. And now, even one of the most healthful breakfast options – oatmeal – is at risk. Starting in October, the Quaker Oats man will be sporting a milk mustache.
MilkPEP, the milk promotion program sponsored by the dairy industry, has splashed its marketing campaign across the iconic Quaker Oats logo. Marketing milk is a disservice to Quaker’s customers who may not know that milk has zero health benefits. In fact, milk is associated with many health risks. In the American diet, dairy products are some of the top sources of saturated fat and cholesterol – major contributors to heart disease, America’s No. 1 killer. More than one glass of milk per day can increase the risk of breast cancer by 73 percent, and two and a half servings of dairy products can raise prostate cancer risk by 34 percent. Skim milk is not a better option – it still holds many of the dangers as whole milk, including cholesterol and sugar. Just one cup of skim milk has more sugar than a serving of Lucky Charms!
Additionally, 65 percent of people are lactose intolerant and experience abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, and other symptoms of gastrointestinal upset roughly 30 minutes after drinking milk. Certain populations are more likely to be lactose intolerant than others. Data show that approximately 90 percent of Asians, 75 percent of African-Americans, more than 50 percent of Hispanics, and 79 percent of Native Americans are lactose intolerant.
Fortunately, oatmeal can be easily prepared with water or nondairy milk to create a healthful breakfast. Half a cup of Quaker old-fashioned oats has 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, which will help you feel full until lunchtime. Oatmeal also helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Adding heart-healthy and cholesterol-free options – like fruit or plant-based milks – will help you reap the benefits of oatmeal, rather than wash them away.
By wiping off his milk mustache—or making it a plant-milk mustache—the Quaker mascot has the opportunity to help save breakfast. Customers who want to let Quaker know that they love their oats dairy free can sign this petition. Let’s all work together to keep breakfast healthful for everyone!