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Friday, July 21, 2006

Udder Confusion

The respected UC Berkeley Wellness Letter is a good place to find down-the-middle information on both sides of medical "controversies," even if the controversies are sometimes just propaganda masquerading as science.

The article Udder Confusion looks at many of the myths that have grown up around milk. Here's a couple of the most pertinent debunkings of interest to those of us who are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies.

Claim: Milk boosts mucus production in the throat.

Facts:
The scientific evidence says no. This myth may persist because of whole milk's thick consistency and because it may coat the mouth briefly. In one Australian study, subjects (many of them believers in the milk-mucus link) were given either chocolate-flavored cow's milk or an indistinguishable soy milk. About one-third of them reported that the cow's milk coated their tongue and throat, made them swallow a lot, and/or made their saliva feel thicker. But a similar proportion of those who drank the soy milk reported these same sensations, so the dairy product wasn't to blame. If you don't like the way whole milk coats your tongue, or if it feels as if it makes mucus hard to swallow, this is yet another reason to switch to low-fat or nonfat milk.

Claim: People who have problems digesting lactose can eat or drink no dairy products.

Facts:
Many people who believe they can't digest any lactose (milk sugar) without bloating and discomfort are not really lactose-intolerant. Moreover, as we've reported, studies show that even those who truly are lactose-intolerant are able to digest a cup or two of milk a day, if consumed at meals, with few if any symptoms. Beyond that, they can turn to lactose-reduced milk (store-bought or homemade).

But be sure to read the rest of the article to check out the other myths and mythinformation that they properly squelch.

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