Dairy consumption is an essential part of health, growth, and development as it provides a good source of nutrients. We have long revered the nightly glass of milk, and the rituals of your morning yogurt and yoga. But, is there anything that isn’t good about dairy? This comes as varied studies have shown links to risks in developing cancer from consuming specific dairy products. Much talk has been abuzz between the benefits of consuming yogurt and breast cancer and it would seem that not all dairy products are equally nutritious and beneficial.
Is Yogurt Good For You?
Fermented milk is what makes up most of what goes into your morning yogurt. A culture of healthy bacteria is introduced to the milk which is the key element in promoting a healthy gut. Generally, dairy products pack a healthy punch of the following nutrients :
Along with Vitamins D, A, and B12, people have depended on dairy for centuries as part of their nutrition, while women uphold it in their fight to maintain good bone health and keep osteoporosis at bay. Much can be said about dairy today as health-conscious people rely more on their power breakfast of yogurt, granola, and fruit to aid digestion instead of a greasy breakfast platter.
Then again, not all yogurt products out there are the same. The kind of yogurt you stack in your icebox shelves may not be as healthy as you’ve always thought it to be. Have you checked what’s in your favorite yogurt product? Remember, less is more! Meaning, the fewer ingredients it has listed on it — the healthier it is for you.
Types of Yogurt
- Low Fat / Reduced Fat – 2 % milk
- Non-fat – 0% or made with skim milk
- Kefir – a probiotic drink that can be made at home
- Greek Yogurt – higher protein content but less calcium
- Skyr – thicker than Greek and with triple protein value
- Non-Dairy – made from soy or coconut milk
What Type of Yogurt is Good for you?
The market is teeming with a variety of yogurt products to suit your taste buds. It all depends on what you need. Some yogurt brands may contain higher levels of protein for people who need to pack up on the protein and build muscle mass but have difficulty chewing food. This type of yogurt is a nutritious option.
If you’re trying to lose weight, low-fat yogurt is the best way to enjoy dairy without the silent nagging guilt. Being burdened with lactose intolerance no longer needs to put a damper on your breakfast, nor do you need to give up on frozen yogurt because there are non-dairy versions of yogurt.
When Is Yogurt Not Good for You?
Commercially processed dairy products usually contain “other” ingredients for longer shelf life and sugar to make it more appealing to the palette because not everyone sincerely likes the taste of anything fermented. Adding sugar is a trick of the trade to also get kids to like this fermented tub of goodness. What harm can added sugar do? Well, this is the healthy deal-breaker for yogurt. Check for hidden sugars because sugar comes in different forms and names. It is also important to note that any yogurt product that has undergone heat treatment no longer contains live bacteria which means reduced health benefits.
Dairy as a whole has even taken a bad hit from medical practitioners. Arguments on its actual benefits on human health bear on the fact that it is nature’s most perfect food on earth — but only if you are a calf! This is the reason why many people have digestive issues when they consume milk products.
It has also been found that milk does not make your bones stronger nor does it protect you from osteoporosis. Based on scientific studies and demographics, people from countries that have the lowest consumption rates of milk products such as Asia and Africa also have the lowest case rates of osteoporosis.
Can Dairy Cause Cancer?
Cancer research shows that men who consume more dairy products and calcium-rich food have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Eating dairy products also has been found to increase the body’s level of IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) which is known to promote cancer in the body.
However, taking calcium supplements is found to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Although, some of the findings still do not have a solid foundation of understanding — the association to cancer may lie in the type of dairy and the amount consumed.
Some studies show that women who consume more dairy products have a much lower risk of developing breast cancer. Data investigators pegged more than 1000 women who ate more dairy food showed a 15% reduced risk of breast cancer.
It is important to note that these figures show the effect mainly from women who consume more yogurt. Considering the other health benefits of yogurt consumption, the possibility of reduced cancer risk could be pinned on the impact of yogurt on one’s immune system and functions.
The potential of carcinogens invading the body through dairy food consumption may also stem from the fact that some milk products are stained with pesticides
Milk vs. Yogurt
Got Milk? Or would you rather have a cup of full-fat Greek yogurt? The food pyramid puts milk on the high hierarchy yet studies show that milk could be hiding a different story. The components of milk may have an inverse effect on breast cancer development compared to that of yogurt consumption.
There are certain dairy and milk products like whole milk and cheeses that can be more of potential risk for breast cancer. This can be attributed to the fact that such products typically have a higher content of fat than yogurt. Therefore, a diet high in creamy cheese and whole milk may pose a marginally increased risk of carcinogens in the body.
Yogurt, on the other hand, is already ahead in the game with its team of live and active bacteria that are armed and ready to guard your immune system. It is also a good healthy source of CLA or conjugated Linoleic acid known to hold down the growth of breast cancer cells.
Between controlled studies made in France and Uruguay — the reduced rate of breast cancer, bladder, colon/rectal in subjects who consumed low-fat yogurt and most notably stronger effects with Kefir yogurt.