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The view that cow's milk is linked to type 1 diabetes is an old theory that was only reported in some Scandinavian countries. Subsequent studies have disproved the theory

By Dr V Mohan and Dr JB Prajapati

Milk is a nearly complete food with a unique balance of nutrients. Some people may have difficulty in digesting milk sugar (lactose) but humans have, in general, valtrex and yeast infections developed the capacity to digest lactose over the years, and hence milk can be consumed for the entire lifespan. Lactose helps in brain development; milk proteins are good for muscle development and calcium is a must for bone strength apart from other health benefits.

Recently, however, people have been debating whether milk is unhealthy and a leading cause of diabetes. But scientific evidence is contrary to what they say. The fact is that milk is actually beneficial for diabetes. It is evident from both cross-sectional as well as longitudinal data from India.

The first evidence stating dairy and milk could be protective came from the Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study (CURES) which showed that dairy has a protective effect against diabetes. Cross-sectional studies, however, cannot establish a cause and effect relationship and for this; we need longitudinal, long-term, follow-up studies. The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study conducted in 21 countries in five continents on 150,000 individuals in which five parts of India were also involved, showed that dairy consumption was associated with lower incidents of (new-onset) diabetes, hypertension, as well as metabolic syndrome.

The view that cow’s milk is linked to type 1 diabetes is an old theory that was only reported in some Scandinavian countries. Subsequent studies have disproved the theory. It is well known that mother’s milk is protective against various diseases. In some western countries, breastfeeding is not popular and the newborn is, therefore, exposed to cow’s milk early in their life, especially in the first six months of life. Their immunity, thus, may go down as they have not had exclusive breast milk and may therefore develop infections and low immunity. It is not the cow’s milk that is producing the problem but the lack of protection by mother’s milk since exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months after birth.

Regarding type 2 diabetes, there is no evidence that shows any positive association with milk. The fact that India has the second-largest number of people with diabetes in the world is actually because India also has the second-largest population in the world. The first three countries with the largest number of diabetic patients follow the population of those countries. Thus, China has the largest number of people with diabetes, followed by India and then the United States. As India’s population increases, we will have more people with diabetes even if the percentage of diabetes remains the same. Moreover, the increase is not due to milk consumption but due to the obesity epidemic which has parallelly developed. Right from a young age, children eat junk food and do not exercise enough. Hence, they put on weight, develop insulin resistance and guts develop polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD). All of these are reversible if children are made to exercise regularly and cut down on junk food.

Finally, excess carbohydrates in the form of polished white rice and refined wheat have been linked to diabetes in India in several of our studies as well as others. This along with decreased physical activities are the strongest risk factors for diabetes and they are preventable by proper educators.

Milk has many essential ingredients including calcium, riboflavin, phosphorous, vitamin D, pantothenic acid, potassium, vitamin A and niacin. Milk is a very good source of protein and thanks to the milk revolution in India, the growth and the nutrition of children in India has improved considerably. Milk has been used right from our Vedic times and it is part of our cultural heritage. Lord Sri Krishna’s fondness for butter is well-known. Milk in India is also a source of livelihood for millions of marginal and landless farmers. Stopping milk consumption can lead to more undernutrition in India, which already has the largest number of undernourished children in the world. Milk is also essential for pregnant and lactating women as it provides much-needed protein and calcium to them. We make a humble plea to consider the scientific facts properly so that the public is not confused or misled.

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