Forum: Case for dairy not as clear-cut as proponents make it out to be

The dairy section at a supermarket at NEX on March 23, 2017.
The dairy section at a supermarket at NEX on March 23, 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

The case for dairy is not as clear-cut, rosy or salutary as its proponents make it out to be (Growing appetite in S-E Asia for dairy, Dec 7).

Asian societies, traditionally low consumers of dairy, are constantly exhorted to increase their consumption by businesses, and must be discriminating in their response.

There is evidence that dairy, because of its inherent sugar, protein and hormonal content, causes as many harmful as beneficial effects.

There is evidence that drinking milk not only doesn't help in bone strengthening, but is also linked to osteoporosis, which is a bone condition characterised by low bone mass or decreased bone strength. Western societies which ingest the highest amounts of dairy do not have the lowest incidence of osteoporosis, a disease best prevented by calcium and vitamin D from alternative sources, adequate weight-bearing exercise and discretionary exposure to sunlight.

That said, so many factors are involved in a diet that it is as often art as science. Factors such as the quality of dairy, the presence of additives and the complementary processes of fermentation play a role in determining research conclusions.

Meanwhile, caveat emptor (buyer beware).

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2019, with the headline 'Case for dairy not as clear-cut as proponents make it out to be'. Print Edition | Subscribe