Modern man is a man of choice. We are already accustomed to comparing similar products in terms of performance, composition and cost, and to choose what suits our needs. On the issue of food, as noted by many consumer research studies in recent years, we put the health and safety of the product at the forefront. The desire for a healthy lifestyle is largely dictated by modern tastes.
Disputes about the benefits and harms of such a seemingly integral product as milk have erupted especially sharply not so long ago. Some doubts and special cases develop into frightening myths about milk intolerance, about its harm to humans and make us doubt - are we still mammals?
However, you shouldn't sweep aside doubts in the bud - it's better to try to figure them out.
Adults don't need milk
One of the most famous myths about milk is that it is useless and even harmful to adults. Allegedly, with age, a person loses the ability to digest it. In fact, with the exception of a small percentage of people with lactose intolerance, adults can and should do milk. The main plus of milk is a balanced composition of many substances and microelements useful to humans. For example, calcium from dairy products is absorbed much easier than from other sources, because in milk it coexists with protein, which makes it easier for the body to "extract" it.
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A person does not tolerate lactose
Intolerance to milk sugar - lactose - develops due to the lack of the enzyme lactase necessary for its breakdown. This feature is not encountered as often as people say about it. According to the observations of scientists, it exists only in 15-30% of people, and in Europeans it is much less common than, for example, among residents of Africa and Asia (where the percentage can reach 80). Interestingly, in our ancestors, lactose problems were much more common. Anthropologists claim that the gene responsible for this appeared in humans only 4.5 thousand years ago. We can say that the ability to assimilate pure milk is a gift of evolution to pastoralists, greatly expanding and enriching their diet.
In any case, lactose intolerance has obvious symptoms - bloating, pain, diarrhea and even vomiting. It's hard to miss them. If the symptoms are subtle, and the suspicion is strong, it is easy to check your body - just give up milk for a couple of days, and the symptoms should disappear.
But even milk intolerance is not a reason to refuse its benefits. Today, more and more manufacturers offer low-lactose or completely lactose-free milk. In addition, lactose is absent in fermented milk products.
Skimmed milk leads to weight gain
It is time to recall the same warnings regarding sugar-free products. There is a risk, but it lies not in milk at all, but in any low-fat products. The body needs fats for normal functioning, and it will receive them. If you "deceive" him with low-fat food, then he will begin with a vengeance to stock up on fats from wherever he can get them. Skim milk is a good way to cut down on calories, but you shouldn't cut fat entirely.
Milk can be "live" and "dead"
"Milk teeming with life" - you must admit that it sounds far from appetizing. Contrary to common misconceptions, milk is good for microelements, not bacteria. Microorganisms in milk are at best harmless, at worst - they lead to sourness and can cause dysbiosis.
For the same reason, you should not confuse sour milk and yogurt. The latter is obtained in the process of correct production, with the addition of safe starter cultures. And sour milk at home is spoiled, and E. coli could also cause it to sour.
Useful only from a cow
Fresh milk does have antibacterial properties - but only for the first two hours after milking. After that, bacteria that enter the milk upon contact with the environment begin to multiply in it. Therefore, it is risky to buy bottled milk, even if it is from a respected farmer.
At modern farms and industries, they have been doing everything possible for a long time to exclude the contact of milk with a harmful environment, even with air. Gentle mechanical milking not only does not cause any inconvenience to the cow, but also protects milk from the "human factor" - bacteria on the hands, possible diseases, and so on. Milk flows through sealed pipes into equally sealed containers, which deliver milk to the plant. Ideally, as committed by responsible producers, it takes less than the two hours from milking to processing.
Mechanical milking of a cow © Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg via Getty Images
Milk has a long shelf life due to preservatives
UHT milk can indeed be stored for several months even outside the refrigerator, but this property is provided not due to the composition of the milk, but due to proper processing and packaging. Ultra-pasteurization is one of the most gentle milk processing methods today. It is heated to a temperature of 137 ° C, held for a few seconds, and then quickly cooled. The whole process takes place in a sterile sealed environment. Thus, all harmful microflora is killed, but nutritional value and saturation with useful elements are preserved. This method is much more gentle than boiling, which some resort to at home - prolonged heating destroys both harmful and useful components of milk, it becomes almost sterile.
UHT milk is filled in aseptic multilayer packaging that prevents contact with air, light, moisture and bacteria. In it, milk can be stored for a long time without any preservatives and refrigeration - it simply does not get something that can deteriorate and turn sour. However, opened packaging loses its properties - unpacked milk, even UHT, should be stored in the refrigerator, and no more than 3-5 days.
Modern milk contains antibiotics, GMOs and no control
Antibiotics are not allowed to be added to any kind of milk, be it pasteurized, UHT or sterile. Thoughts about GMOs are often aroused by the term "homogenized" - but these are completely different concepts. Homogenization is bringing milk to a single fat content indicator, the very familiar 1.5%, 2.5%, 3.2% and others. After all, even the same cow, depending on nutrition and mood, gives milk that is different in fat content, so it is brought to a common denominator either through enrichment with fats, or vice versa, skimming.
Control over the quality of milk is carried out not only by government agencies, such as Rospotrebnadzor and Rosstandart, but also by the producers themselves in the struggle for the sympathy of buyers. For example, in Russia and the CIS countries for more than 10 years there has been a "Highest Dairy Standard" developed by the milk producers themselves. Product compliance with high requirements is a matter of self-respect for a responsible business. It is easy to recognize milk of such a high standard - the packaging has a round quality mark with a picture of a cow and the inscription "Highest milk standard".>