Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Mark Bittman continues to weigh in on dairy

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It certainly seems easy to experiment: give up all dairy products for a month and see what happens. Apparently for some, what happens is quite good and surprising. Bittman writes in the NY Times:

Not surprisingly, experiences like mine with dairy, outlined in my column of two weeks ago, are more common than unusual, at least according to the roughly 1,300 comments and e-mails we received since then. In them, people outlined their experiences with dairy and health problems as varied as heartburn, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, eczema, acne, hives, asthma (“When I gave up dairy, my asthma went away completely”), gall bladder issues, body aches, ear infections, colic, “seasonal allergies,” rhinitis, chronic sinus infections and more. (One writer mentioned an absence of canker sores after cutting dairy; I realized I hadn’t had a canker sore — which I’ve gotten an average of once a month my whole life — in four months. Something else to think about.)

Although lactose intolerance and its generalized digestive tract problems are well documented, and milk allergies are thought to affect perhaps 1 percent of the American population, the links between milk (or dairy) and such a broad range of ailments has not been well studied, at least by the medical establishment.

Yet if you speak with people who’ve had these kinds of reactive problems, it would appear that the medical establishment is among the last places you’d want to turn for advice. Nearly everyone who complained of heartburn, for example, later resolved by eliminating dairy, had a story of a doctor (usually a gastroenterologist) prescribing a proton pump inhibitor, or P.P.I., a drug (among the most prescribed in the United States) that blocks the production of acid in the stomach.

But — like statins — P.P.I.s don’t address underlying problems, nor are they “cures.” They address only the symptom, not its cause, and they are only effective while the user takes them. Thus in the last few days I’ve read scores of stories like mine, some of which told of involuntary or incidental withdrawal of dairy from the diet — a trip to China (where milk remains less common), or a vacation with non-milk-drinking friends or family — when symptoms disappeared, followed by their return upon resumption of a “normal” diet.

Others abandoned dairy for animal cruelty reasons, or a move towards veganism, and found, as one reader wrote, “My chronic lifelong nasal congestion vanished within a week, never to return.” Still others (I’m happy to report) read my piece and, like one writer, “immediately gave up dairy … and quit taking my medications.  After nine days … I have had no heartburn, despite the fact that I have eaten many foods that would normally bring it on…. It feels like a miracle.”

There is anger as well as surprise, because . . .

Continue reading. I actually haven’t had milk in a long time, though I do have yogurt and a pat of butter each morning with an egg. But no milk.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 July 2012 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Food, Health

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