Your Thighs on Cheese

Controversial billboards try a shock approach to urge less cheese consumption.

These billboards are hilarious.  I can only imagine that the National Dairy Council is most likely not enjoying the same level of amusement that I am.  And I know that many people are thinking these are nothing more than vegan propaganda.  But really, is it any different from all that dairy propaganda?  We’re accustomed to seeing ads claiming that milk builds strong bones and they’ve been up on our school walls since we were in kindergarten.  But we don’t see them for what they truly are- advertisements by the dairy industry… and their one purpose is to sell dairy products; they could care less about your health.

I have to give a lot of credit to the folks at the PCRM for all the hard work they put into trying to get the American public to think outside of the box.  We’ve all been literally brainwashed by the dairy industry into believing that cow’s milk is a necessary part of the human diet, when in actuality it’s produced by mother cows for their calves in the same way that any other animal lactates to feed their young.

Does everybody who eats cheese have thighs or abs like the billboards show?  No, of course not.  Likewise, drinking milk is not going to help you look like the models in the “milk, it does a body good” advertisements.  We grew up exposed to all sorts of messages from the media in the form of television, radio, magazines and newspapers.  All too often the line between reliable dietary advice and marketing becomes blurred.

Based on what we’ve all been taught, you might be fearful of developing osteoporosis if you don’t consume dairy.  How about taking a look beyond the advertisements and checking out what the actual science tells us?  If you look up research on dairy and bone health you will find lots of studies that show a positive correlation, lots of studies that show a negative correlation and plenty of studies that show no relationship whatsoever.  It can be very confusing!  Various agencies with specific agendas are going to cherry pick which bits of research they show you to prove their side.  Hence the dairy industry and their ads along with the PCRM with theirs.  What I like to do is check to see if there have been any meta-analyses in situations where it’s barely humanly possible to sort through all the studies.

Dairy foods and bone health: examination of the evidence

The above study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed the outcomes from a number of studies to determine whether the scientific evidence supports the recommendation that dairy foods be consumed for improved bone health.  The results of most of the studies were non-significant and they conclude that the body of scientific evidence appears inadequate to support a recommendation for daily intake of dairy foods to promote bone health.

Have you heard of the calcium-paradox?  The countries that consume the most dairy and animal protein have the highest rates of osteoporotic bone fractures.  Interesting.  Bone health is actually more related to calcium balance than calcium intake. The best way to achieve this balance is to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption, limit animal protein, get physical activity and expose yourself to sunshine.  Eating dairy does not fall into the equation!  If you are a vegetarian (or anybody actually) and you consume milk products thinking that it is important for you bones then you must read this:

Should dairy be recommended as part of a healthy vegetarian diet?

I think Marion Nestle sums up dairy products quite appropriately in her book, “What to Eat” by saying that “if milk does increase health risks, these have to be small.  I think the science also suggests that if milk does have health benefits, these too are small.  Milk is just a food.   There is nothing special about it.  Cow’s milk is not necessary and it is not perfect (at least not for humans).”

Small amounts of dairy products can fit into a healthy diet.  However, they surely aren’t necessary.  And if you enjoy them in moderation your thighs and abs can stay slim and trim.  But please, oh please stay away from processed cheese products like American cheese slices.

What do you think about eating dairy products?  Do you consume milk and cheese out of what you always believed to be necessity for bone health?

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One Response to Your Thighs on Cheese

  1. I have indeed heard of the calcium-paradox and think it’s so interesting! I love cheese but try to limit how much I eat as it is high in calories.

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