Doctor's Note

Dairy industry policies have also been accused of racial bias, as profiled in this article published in the Journal of the National Medical Association.

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Vitamin B12: how much, how often?

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Dairy industry policies have also been accused of racial bias, as profiled in this article published in the Journal of the National Medical Association.

    • MsAdventuress

      I can’t begin to thank you enough for posting this video. When explaining this issue as the reason I can’t consume dairy, people tend to think I’m a tad wacky. But seeing it here makes me feel…sane. ♥

  • maybush1

    Very good information. I was literally asking myself this very same question a couple of days ago, since I had recently heard it mentioned many times.

    Thanks again Dr. Greger. Keep up the great work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=638542017 Bo Novak

    Love, love, love these videos. Proper science with the important bits underlined. The connection between milk and allergies / asthma and mucus / phlegm is well known. Many singers avoid milk for this second reason. And the opiates in milk serve an obvious purpose in mother-child bonding – which begs the question why so many of us drink the breast milk of another species.

  • vegdeb

    I’m a singer, and many singers avoid dairy before a performance because of this. I even heard the director of an elementary school musical warning her cast about this before the show. Go, Maimonides!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=676800493 Benjamin Stone

    “Dairy industry blames Jewish physician” Ha!

    Of course most Jews are in fact lactose intolerant. The Dairy Council must be perturbed at ethnic groups that can not digest their products!

    Good catch Doctor. I think the Dairy Council is in need of some new copywriters.

  • EH

    As someone in a position of trust, you may want to review some of the statements in your video.

    First off, what is it that told you that the source article was a review, was it the title of the journal: “Medical Hypotheses”, or was it the long list of references?

    Secondly, what makes you think that article states that it is indeed fact? There is nowhere in that article that states that this is what happens. Perhaps I missed that part and you can quote it for me so that I can better understand.

    Finally, while you do indeed say that ‘this may affect that’ and ‘this may cause that’, most of this hesitation is invalidated by the fact that you earlier stated that this is certainly what happens since it is a fact.

    That being said, while I have little doubt in my mind that the milk industry is bending facts like every other large industry with rumours or myths or even evidence against them, I abhor when people with presumably noteworthy credentials say things in a way to make the general population think something is true, when it is simply a hypothesis. And so I must apologise for the somewhat hostile tone.

    -a Ph.D. Candidate in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Protein Dynamics, and Drug Design

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Thank you so much for your feedback! It’s very sweet of you to take the time to leave a comment. It’s a dream come true to have science-minded folks like yourself reviewing the site and it would be a great favor to me personally and to those visiting the site if you had time to review as many other videos as you can. If you don’t have institutional access to any of the articles I cite please let me know and I can email you PDFs.

      With specific regard to your comments, you’re absolutely right: “review” is only correct in the colloquial sense and not in the technical sense. So I should have said the “latest paper” on the subject instead. In fact I’ll add it to the queue of videos I want to rerecord just to make sure it’s crystal clear. I am indebted to you and all those who have noted site search glitches, videos with sound problems, etc. as I am constantly trying to improve on the site (while at the same time working on coming up with new content every day!).

      The Bartley and McGlashan paper I highlight is indeed more of an explanatory paper, trying to figure out the “why” rather than the “what.” Although reports of mucoid impaction tied to milk allergy go back nearly 30 years, such a large percentage of the population recognizes a milk/mucus link (see for example, here, here, and here) that allergies alone couldn’t account for such a widespread perception. That’s why this new paper is so interesting, offering a non-allergy explanation of why so many people report increased respiratory mucus production with milk consumption. Is their hypothesis (i.e. educated guess) correct? It hasn’t been tested, but hopefully it will lead to a fruitful line of research and I will make sure to keep everyone in the loop.

      And EH, good luck on your thesis!

  • EH

    I appreciate that you responded and are willing to improve and review your descriptions.

    While I cannot access the article titled “Recurrent mucoid impaction in an asthmatic infant with cow’s milk protein allergy”, the article titled “The Milk Mucus Belief: Sensations Associated with the belief and characteristics of believers” states that even in non-believers there was a sensation of needing to swallow, of coating of the throat, etc. They also refer to a similar double blind study they did in which they report that the subjects also experienced the same effect with soy milk, and so conclude that these sensations are just something that comes with this type of drink and is not actually associated with cow’s milk itself.

    The next article titled “Patients’ perceptions of food-induced asthma” found that approximately 35% of respondends reported that dairy products had “made you start to cough, wheeze, feel short of
    breath or get a tight feeling in the chest?”, but with that same questionnaire, about 40% reported those same symptoms with fruits and vegetables. They conclude that ‘confirmation of these perceptions will require well conducted challenge studies’. More importantly here, they say that ‘health professionals need to be aware of their own beliefs.’

    The last study “Do You Believe Milk Makes Mucus?” found that there are equal proportions of people who think milk causes increased mucus production when considering those that have illnesses that could affect that effect (asthma, cystic fibrosis, and allergies). There are also an equal propotion of people that believe it across different ethnicities. The part of this article I personally find interesting is that the stated sources for the idea that milk causes more mucus is 9.8% pediatricians, 18.7% other physicians and 2.6% other healthcare professionals.

    Your argument that allergies alone could not account for such a widespread perception falls under the argumentum ad populum fallacy of argumentation that states that something is true because many people believe it is. Nobody has yet confirmed that milk does indeed cause increased mucus production, and until somebody does so, be it for some small percentage of the population, it is irresponsible to advertise it as being a true effect.

    I do look forward to seeing the results of that study though, being asthmatic myself.

    • BPCveg

      I too read this paper and think Dr. Greger’s video was representative in that all he actually stated was that it “appears to be fact” that milk increases mucus production.

      In fact, Bartley and McGlashan cite a number of studies that support dairy elimination and conclude that “These observations would suggest that in some situations a cow’s milk exclusion diet can be beneficial.”

      To support these observations the authors provided a plausible and testable mechanism to explain why a certain type of milk (A1) could increase mucus production in a subgroup of people who have increased intestinal permeability.

  • EH

    Like I said, most of the wording in the video does indeed have a note of doubt in it, but most people will assume it is just turn of phrase. Scientists will often state things this way because they are aware that discoveries are rarely certain and even more seldom absolute, whereas for the general population, if you tell them it appears that drinking and driving cause accidents, the will take it as a fact because it is something they already think or know to be true.

    When you saw this video, before looking at the sources and reading the comments, were you not under the impression that milk did indeed cause mucus production?

  • http://www.facebook.com/EFVOnline Angel Duran

    I got this from Dr. Mercola’s site on raw milk. What’s your take on it. (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/01/cdc-misrepresents-raw-milk-statistics.aspx?e_cid=20120101_SNL_Art_1)

    Raw Milk is a Healthful, Living Food

    High quality raw milk has a mountain of health benefits that pasteurized milk lacks. For example, raw milk is:

    Loaded with healthy bacteria that are good for your gastrointestinal tract
    Full of more than 60 digestive enzymes, growth factors, and immunoglobulins (antibodies)
    Rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer
    Rich in beneficial raw fats, amino acids, and proteins in a highly bioavailable form, all 100 percent digestible
    Loaded with vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K) in highly bioavailable forms, and a very balanced blend of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron) whose absorption is enhanced by live lactobacilli
    It is not uncommon for people who drink raw milk to experience improvement or complete resolution of troubling health issues—everything from allergies to digestive problems to eczema. It is also common for people who have “milk allergies” to tolerate raw milk just fine. Pasteurized milk is a completely different story.

    Pasteurization Creates a Dead, White Liquid That is NOT Beneficial to Your Health

    Pasteurization turns milk into a dead white liquid whose health benefits are largely destroyed. Consider what pasteurization does to milk:

    The price of killing the pathogenic bacteria is that you also kill the good bacteria which helps digest milk and make it such a nourishing food
    Proteins and enzymes are completely destroyed or denatured, made less digestible and less usable by your body
    Immunoglobulins, metal-binding proteins, vitamin-binding proteins, carrier proteins, growth factors, and anti-microbial peptides such as Lactoferrin are destroyed
    Many vitamins and minerals are rendered biologically unusable
    Fats are damaged and destabilized
    Additionally, the bacteria killed by pasteurization are not removed, so their dead carcasses remain in the milk to ignite immune reactions in those who ingest them, which is one major cause of milk allergies. It isn’t really an allergy to the milk itself, but to the organic cell fragments it contains.

  • Deb

    Interestingly, Maimonides was right on alot of medical issues.  I believe he also  wrote that people needed to allow a sufficient amount of green space around cities for clean and, thus promoting optimal health.

    A reviewer on Amazon.com, commenting on one of the English translations of Maimonides medical writings said this:

    Maimonides studied medicine long before he decided to enter the
    profession because he knew that good heath is important to a satisfying
    life. He taught that prevention of illness and the maintenance of good
    health is the major goal of physicians and non-physicians alike. He
    focused his attention not only on the body, but also on the mind, the
    environment, a proper attitude, good interrelationships, the avoidance
    of stress, and other similar subjects.

    Maimonides was very modern in
    his approach to good heath by stressing exercise, proper foods,
    sufficient sleep, and recognizing that nature by itself, without the aid
    of a physician, can resolve many illnesses. His advice on health,
    contained in his medical, philosophical and legal writings, remains
    worthwhile reading today.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Bad Egg!

  • Skeptical

    I didn’t see any research included in the video to prove the casein theory, just conjecture.

  • http://www.thinkyhead.com/ Thinkyhead

    I have a germophobic housemate of Jewish descent who is constantly hawking up phlegm and loudly blowing his nose. He thinks it’s just “allergies” but he eats meat, cheese, and dairy pretty regularly. His solution is to gargle Listerine, which I think is probably making things worse for him. Recent studies have found helpful viruses living in human mucous, and most of the bacteria we carry are beneficial as well. But he’s one of those kooky old dudes who will never be deep enough to change his habits, so he’s never tried eschewing meat and dairy to see how it might affect his health. Instead he baselessly insists it’s nothing to do with diet, and he just keeps on suffering and being a noisy annoyance to his housemates. What to do??

  • Samuel Mendez

    That video really helped me a lot, because I’ve been very discouraged lately. I’m a singer in a band, and also I make my own music as a kind of solo project, and I noticed a few years ago I got sick and had all this phlegm and I thought well I just never got rid of the mucus, I never recovered in that aspect. But I also noticed..I drink sometimes 3 to 4 glasses of milk a day. That’s a lot..and it seems that my phlegm buildup is even more increased. I can barely talk and sing now. So I think eliminating milk although I love it so much would be healthy and improve my well being and vocal abilities. I hope.

  • Mother Cow

    “Medical Hypotheses” being the keyword in this video.

  • Mother Cow

    The journal name “Medical Hypothesis” is the keyword in this video.

  • JR

    I have only recently excluded virtually all animal foods. My breathing feels easier, yet another unexpected benefit. Thank you Dr Greger for this material.

    • Thea

      JR: I had a conversation just this last weekend with a group of vegans who were all sharing various “unexpected benefits” after switching to their vegan diets. It is fascinating how many medical problems get cleaned up when people start eating healthy – sometimes problems they weren’t even really aware of beforehand.

      Congrats on your easier breathing.

      • cd

        Right On! that’s the bottom line. I’ve experienced the same. When I asked the “Dr.’s” for help 20 years ago, with my constant sinus inflammation and congestion in my nose throat etc, their only solution was drugs and/or surgery-no mention of the power of plants alone! THANK GOD I was willing to eventually change. After all, the definition of insanity is o continue to do the same thing and expect a different result!

  • M1lkman

    Speaking totally subjectively here. I drink close to a gallon of milk a day.. I have no excess mucous or phlegm or any other noticable symptoms. I have done without for months at a time and just miss drinking it. No science, just satisfaction.

  • Toa

    The frowny face of the cereal is great!

  • sandra

    Chronic sinus suffer here, I found I was allergic to salycaletes, hence I would get a head cold after a night out. If I went to a more adventurous restaurant I would have severe headaches lasting up to 4 days. I had turbinate surgery. The worst decision of my life. I now have a constant post-nasal drip.

    The best things I have found work for me are:-
    1. swimming in salt water (best in the surf), to clear out my head of mucus.
    2. starting the day with fresh lemon juice, waiting 10 minutes, to then have green tea, inhaling the steam to help clear move the mucus and clear as much as possible, then having a healthy breakfast.

    I have always wondered about milk and mucus. I was told by GPs it was only in children it produced mucus, but tend to err on the side of caution personally.

    Oddly enough Coriander is my number 1 mucus maker. Have that in a meal and I have sneezed 10 times in half an hour on my way to a headache in an hour and migraine like pain in 4 hours. Makes food selection at a lot of restaurants a challenge!
    Sandra

  • Mama in IL

    Thank you for sharing this video. It’s very helpful. You might enjoy this page. http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/medicine/divisions/digestive-health/nutrition-support-team/nutrition-articles/LiacourasArticle.pdf

    * if you search the paper for the word – cow – then look at the 3rd and 4th finding… it supports what you’re saying I believe.

    I would think raw milk might be an okay option for many. However Dr. Mercola has shared that there are two types of cows and one type has the kind of milk that can cause allergy. They’re called A1 and A2.

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/07/09/The-Devil-in-the-Milk.aspx

    I like how http://www.westonaprice.org helps people find raw milk sources.

    Blessings! Ali in IL < We support Israel!

  • Lisa

    Why is everything blamed on the Jews? Sheesh. Anglo Saxon white men have been in power for thousands of years, yet they are always touted for their discoveries and successes, never the war and indignities they’ve committed on humankind.

  • alrobnett

    I am 80 years old and spent 78 years suffering from post-nasal drip and throat congestion. I was constantly spitting to clear my throat. That stopped when I quit drinking three glasses of milk every day. I need no other test or proof.

  • Debre

    I am concerned about my sons ongoing problem with excessive mucous – he is well in every way, but has to regularly clear his nose of mucous – especially last thing at night & first thing in the morning.I would like to eliminate milk from his diet, which will be difficult because he loves it, has it with cereal every morning and drinks it every night before bed.If the excessive mucous is being caused by milk, how long would it take to notice any improvement if we completely omit milk from his diet?

    • Toxins

      Hi Debre, I would recommend trying Almond Breeze unsweetened original almond milk. It tastes basically the same and is thinner then “silk” brand almond milk, which gives it the same texture as cows milk. I don’t think you will find much of a noticeable difference in taste. Give it a try! There is more to dairy then mucus too.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/xenoestrogens-early-puberty/

      • Debre

        Thank you for the suggestion of Almond breeze almond milk.However, due to the fact that I live in Turkey, it is not possible for me to get hold of any kind of milk substitute.(It is also not possible to find tofu, quinoa, soya products etc.)I am currently following a 98% vegan diet -as a result of the revelations I have learned from this wonderful website.I would like to cut out dairy produce from my son’s diet gradually.He is eleven years old – and agrees to try going without milk for one month.Would 1 month be long enough to see improvement with regard to mucous production??
        With regard to calcium, I aim to meet his body’s needs for calcium by including lots of fresh vegetables in his diet, plus flax seeds, tahini and nuts.

        • Toxins

          A month will be long enough to notice any mucous drop indeed. You can also attempt to make your own almond milk. From my understanding its quite easy, and you need a cheese cloth to strain them after blending the almonds. I would look online for a recipe.

        • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

          I would agree with Toxins that a month trial will allow you to see if there is benefit to the mucous problem. I would second his comment that there are many other reasons to stop or minimize dairy consumption. Calcium intake will be met by a whole food plant diet. I and I imagine others would be interested in how your trial goes. Good luck.

        • Thea

          Debre: What a bummer that you can’t easily buy foods like almond milk and quinoa, etc. I feel for you.

          I wanted to second Toxin’s suggestion of creating your own nut milks. It can be a lot of fun to make your own and while not as convenient, end up tasting a lot better than the store bought brands. If you have some nuts and a blender, it is easy to make any sort of nut milk – or even oat milk if you can get a hold of whole oat groats.

          For the filtering step: I have made nut milks using both a nut milk bag and just a common, small holed colandar. It just depends how picking you are about texture and how good the blender is/how small it chops up the nut bits.

          I have also made nut milks from nut butters (like say almond butter) instead of the whole nuts. Using a nut butter can make the process more convenient since you can avoid the filtering step all together. You just blend up a bit of nut butter with water – perhaps with a touch of sweetener and/or vanilla if relevant (such as for putting on cold cereal). A ratio you might try is: 1/4 cup nut butter to 4 cups water.

          It is a good testament to both you and your son that your son is willing to go a whole month without a food that he loves. I wish you both luck!

  • JENNY

    I DO NOT TRUST THE GOV.

  • DarylT

    This thing about the opiates in milk making dairy addictive, seems to me if you turn that around it explains why some substances are ‘opiates’ in the first place, they trigger mechanisms we’re evolved to have.