Nutrient-Blocking Effects of Dairy

Nutrient-Blocking Effects of Dairy
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Dairy appears to block the beneficial effects of tea, but what about other phytonutrients?

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But what if we eat our strawberries with cream? In 2007, we learned that milk blocks the absorption of the phytonutrients in chocolate. In 2008, we learned that milk totally blocks the beneficial effects of the phytonutrients in tea. Might as well just be drinking water.

What if we eat dairy at the same meal with powerful antioxidant fruits and vegetables, like berries? We didn’t know, until this year. Does dairy block berry nutrition, or not?

Let’s find out. Ellagic acid is considered one of the key phytonutrients in berries—which, for example, may play a role in the ability of berries to prevent age-related cognitive decline. This is how much ellagic acid is absorbed into our bloodstream when we drink blackberry juice made with water—at half an hour, one hour, two hours, three hours, and four hours after consumption. Compare that to how much we absorb when we drink the same amount of berry juice with skim milk added. Zero. Nothing. 

The absorption completely blocked. Fact. And similar results were found this year with blueberries, as well.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Image thanks to justthatgoodguyjim via Flickr.

But what if we eat our strawberries with cream? In 2007, we learned that milk blocks the absorption of the phytonutrients in chocolate. In 2008, we learned that milk totally blocks the beneficial effects of the phytonutrients in tea. Might as well just be drinking water.

What if we eat dairy at the same meal with powerful antioxidant fruits and vegetables, like berries? We didn’t know, until this year. Does dairy block berry nutrition, or not?

Let’s find out. Ellagic acid is considered one of the key phytonutrients in berries—which, for example, may play a role in the ability of berries to prevent age-related cognitive decline. This is how much ellagic acid is absorbed into our bloodstream when we drink blackberry juice made with water—at half an hour, one hour, two hours, three hours, and four hours after consumption. Compare that to how much we absorb when we drink the same amount of berry juice with skim milk added. Zero. Nothing. 

The absorption completely blocked. Fact. And similar results were found this year with blueberries, as well.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Image thanks to justthatgoodguyjim via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

Here’s another video on nutrient absorption:
New Mineral Absorption Enhancers Found

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

52 responses to “Nutrient-Blocking Effects of Dairy

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  1. Does whey protein powder have the same affect as milk on phytonutrient absorbtion?
    Do we need to add protein powder to our diet to get enough protein on a vegan diet?

    1. Good question about the whey powder. I don’t think that’s known. We’re still not exactly sure what it is about dairy that’s the culprit. I’ll definitely try to stay on top of the topic and let you know if anything new shows up.

      And I don’t recommend protein powder supplements for anyone. We should get our protein from whole foods, and the healthiest sources are legumes–beans, peas, lentils, and soy.

      1. don’t forget dark greens! Collards have a surprisingly high amount of protein considering their low caloric weight!

        Also, while I’m vegan and would never touch a glass of milk, my sister-in-law raised a good question: do we know if these studies are specific to pasteurized milk? Do we have any idea if raw milk suppresses antioxidants?

  2. I’m fearful for my morning smoothies. I’ve learned from other videos that soy milk blocks the absorption of the phytonutrients from tea. Dairy milk blocks absorption of phytonutrients from tea, chocolate and berries. So, logically, might soy block absorption of phytonutrients from berries, too? Anyone done the research?

      1. I thought that Dr Greger said all types of milks used in our tea or coffee will block antioxidant absorption… so assumed this meant almond as well as soy and dairy

  3. Since I see a question about whey protein under this video I put my question here although it does not exactly relate to this video. Whey protein seems to have anti cancerous properties according to this link:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2025891

    What is your idea about whey protein?

    I understand:
    – that you cannot approve of a food just because you like a specific component of it – food is a package deal
    – that casein, not so good, makes up 80% of the milk proteins
    – that whey as a supplement, may not be so good, because of the whole idea that supplements can do more harm than good (vit. A,E. beta-carotene, folic acid etc.)
    – at this stage, there is no solid scientific evidence that whey can prevent of cure cancer

    Do you agree with the above? Do I miss something?

    Thank you very much for your time and this website!

    1. Protein supplements such as whey will increase the insulin like growth factor hormone in your body which results in rapid aging and tumor growth promotion. IGF-1 is not something we want in high concentrations as adults

  4. Hi hsroex, I agree with your conclusions. There are major problems with extrapolating the findings of animal research to humans. There is no need to take supplemental protein as it can be obtained by eating whole foods. See video http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/plant-protein-preferable/ on the best way to get your protein. The two best articles I’ve seen are by Dr. John McDougall see his articles in his newsletters in 12/2003 & 4/2007(available on his website). Even in endurance training where recommendations are to consume protein & carbs within one hour for recovery purposes this can be accomplished with whole foods. Going beyond the issues with cancer there is clear data from the Nurses Study that showed that animal protein intake accelerated the loss of kidney function. As you alluded to in your comment whey supplements often come “packaged” with other ingredients. At this point I see no good evidence to suggest that whey protein is “anti-cancerous”.

    1. Hey Dr. Don. wouldn’t Methylation problems (like MTHF Reductase Def /Methyl enzyme deficiency ) alter the body’s ability to gain protein from nuts and seeds etc.? How do these folks(like me) get proper protein?

  5. Not having read any of the literature, it does seem to me a bit of a stretch to say that because ellagic acid is not absorbed into the bloodstream if these berries are consumed with milk that they are not beneficial. Not absorbed is not the same as not beneficial. Of couse, if you are referring to cognitive or motor benefits, it seems that getting into the bloodstream is critical. But, if you consider the potential anti-cancer benefits, just for example, of phytonutrients WITHIN the GI tract, abosorption into the bloodstream may actually be counter productive. just something to consider.

  6. I’m confused. I read the abstract of: Antioxidant status in humans after consumption of blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L.) juices with and without defatted milk.   and I don’t see where it is saying that milk w/blackberry juice blocks the antioxidant. I could only get the abstract as I don’t have access to the whole article. I’ll admit, I don’t really know what the article is saying is I’m unfamiliar with some of the compounds listed. Nevertheless, I still don’t see where it states that milk blocks antioxidants in any way.

    1. I’m sorry the publisher hasn’t made the article available open access, but the study makes clear that “For ETs [ellagitannins, the phytonutrients thought primarily responsible for the high antioxidant content of blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries], a total inhibition of absorption after
      intake of blackberry juice prepared with defatted milk was
      observed.” I’m sorry if I didn’t make the point clearer in the video.

      1. Thanks Dr. Gregor; I appreciate the explanation.  I’m vegetarian and I use whey to get my protein – I have 2 protein shakes every day and I load them up with vegetables and berries. Now I’m trying to find a new protein. I wish this group would investigate the interaction further and elucidate exactly what is going on. Since soy milk blocks the phytonutrients in tea maybe I can’t get my phytonutrients from my protein shakes. I do have salads everyday but I can put in a lot of things I wouldn’t eat by themselves, in my shakes.

      2. Pharmacognosy based view: Catechins are nothing but condensed TANNINS. Tannins are basically astringent. Astringent activity is nothing but precipitating surface proteins.

        Identification test for Tannins: Make protein solution and mix test sample, if protein preciptates, tannins present.

        Question need to be answered: Which proteins are getting precipitated and which are not????

        In simple words, when tannins or Catechins (Epicatechnis or others) come in contact with protien, they precipitate the same. So tannins are being used up during the process and not available for absorption, in other way Pharmacology is lost. Now the precipitated complex need to get digested and possibly catechins are lost during digestion and not recovered. (may be a small study is required to analyse, can we separate this protien-catechin complex or catechins recovery after protein digestion in stomach due to APM).

        Debate can be on, for quantitative consumption, means how much protein you consume along with berries or catechins. At this point of time we may not know which catechins, which proteins interact, so it may be better to consume separately with time apart. Best is to stop consuming catechins along with protiens.

        1. Hey Ramesh, thanks for writing. As you may already know, answering your question is difficult because we cannot see into the human GI tract, and so researchers use in vitro tests that mimic the conditions in the gut. But these are not real life, real time conditions, so we can only guess at which proteins would precipitate and which would be broken down.

  7. I do frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries and a banana or 2 in a blender with yogurt and raw milk. Are the antioxidants being absorbed or is the raw milk and/or the yogurt curtailing the absorption? Still confused about raw milk and yogurt was not mentioned prior.

  8. Dear Doctor – Can you please enlighten us on whether drinking lactose free milk is a safer healthier way to use a small amount of milk in ones diet?

  9. We have been meat and dairy for over a year and feel great. My own cholesterol went from 334 to 196 in less than a year!​

    My brother and his wife have become interested and started to make changes with their diet. They have a 3 year old with leukemia and are wanting to give him the best chances for a full and fast recovery and that is why many of the vegan ideas seem so ‘right’ for them. They are excited about how they feel and how their child feels with the few changes they have made. They are tired of the french fries, hamburgs and milk that the hospitals serve, when they brought up taking dairy out of their sons diet the doctor was not happy. He told them there is a lot of good stuff in milk and made a real point of saying he needs all the calcium he needs because of the medications he is on.

    Does anyone have any thoughts, ideas or experience with this? They really feel that a change in diet would help their son but their doctor is telling them it would be a bad idea.

    Thanks

    1. The physicians should be able to order a plant based diet at their hospital. It might not be as good as what you can prepare at home but in my experience it is alot better then standard hospital fare. When I was in the hospital several years ago my plant based breakfast came up with a carton of dairy milk. I wrung the nurses who came in and gave me soymilk instead. They said the dietary dept often made that mistake. You can point your physicians toward any of the 90 videos on dairy at NutritionFacts.org or if s/he prefers reading you can suggest “Whitewash” for an indepth exploration of the harms associated with dairy products. Congrats on your journey. I hope your 3 yo does well.

    1. J9: Cheese is just concentrated dairy. There’s no reason to believe that cheese would block nutrients any less. If anything, I would expect cheese to block nutrients more.

  10. How about ingredients in almost every whey powder?just to name a few:Silica, Sucralose, Acesulfame K, Artificial Flavors,Di-Sodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide…That must be good wright?

  11. Does casein also inhibit the absorption of phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables such as indoles and specifically DIM? Do the nutrients get absorbed more slowly, or not all?

  12. If I eat berries, how much time should I wait before having a dairy product? Is one hour enough? I really enjoy my coffee with milk each day but will stagger them if that works.

    1. After reading a lot of inquiring posts here it seems like people just recommend the alternative without answering the question. Milk protein primarily has casein in it which expands when you eat it and slows down your digestion. I’d say that it might be a bit risky because of that. Based off of the video, the study only measured the bloodstream for a few hours. So who knows, maybe it does get into the bloodstream eventually. I don’t think that’s enough to risk it though.

    1. Fit London Vegan: Just to the right of each video is a button for ‘sources cited’. While it is not obvious just looking at it, the list of sources cited are actually links to the original articles when such a link is available.

  13. I have whey protein isolate after weight lifting (I am a bodybuilder). How long should I wait after I have the whey protein isolate shake before I have 1) blueberries, 2) blackberries, 3) Coco, and 4) green tea?

  14. This is the most depressing of all the videos on your site (for me)! I’ve been watching all the videos on tea, and congratulating myself on the black and green teas, chais, and herbal teas I drink. But now I see that milk blocks absorption of antioxidants—and plain black teas, made strong with milk added, and chai, also with milk, constitute the majority of the tea I drink.
    Not only that but, while I quite often eat frozen berries, that’s nearly always with yoghurt.

    I’m desperately looking for some comfort here: Is there any evidence that milk that has been processed in some way—e.g. yoghurt, evaporated milk, cheese?—may have less-pronounced effects? I guess I should just cut out dairy, but I like it so much that I would really like to be able to avoid doing that!

    1. Rick: I feel your pain. I once shared the same pain. But I can honestly say that there are great alternatives to dairy and if you can make yourself stop dairy all together, then when you try it again some point in the future, it is likely not to appeal any more. At least lots of people report that as their experience, though the amount of time that has to pass varies for different people.
      .
      Alternatives to dairy are: nut, coconut or soy based milks, yogurts, ice cream, etc. Some substitutions will be easier than others. And I recommend trying various types and brands if you don’t like the first one. Also, different types might be best for different uses. For example, I find soy milk to be best for sauces, but almond milk to be best for pouring on my oatmeal. Full fat coconut is best for cream. I get ‘no added sugar’ either way. Also note that different brands taste differently, so shop around till you find the best one for your tastes.
      .
      But wait, you say! You were not asking for tips on avoiding dairy. You were asking for some way to still consume dairy and call it healthy. I recommend that you spend some time going through the NutritionFacts topic page for dairy. Then I think you might decided that trying some alternatives is worth your effort. http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy You will see that the properties that make dairy unhealthy is the very milk itself. There really is no saving it. Also note that the topic page only touches the main points. It does not go into the latest videos, for example showing evidence against animal protein in general, which of course is in milk.

  15. You need to hire a better narrator for your videos. The guy in this one is singularly UNqualified: very difficult to understand! {thumbs down x 10}

  16. Is it the protein in the milk that is the culprit? If so, I have two quick questions: 1) what about sheep cheese, and, 2) what about 100% organic cream (from cows)? These are the only 2 types of dairy we eat. Thanks!

    1. Keith: It turns out that breast milk is breast milk, whether it comes from cows, sheep, goats… The purpose of breast milk is to grow a baby. Hence, breast milk is naturally loaded with hormones, whether it is organic or not. That’s a huge problem. You can read more about it on the dairy topic page here on NutritionFacts: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/

      Other problems with dairy is that it has a high amount of animal protein. This would not be any different for sheep’s milk than for cow’s milk. Animal protein is associated with cancer a number ways, one of which is it’s impact on a human growth hormone called IGF-1. There’s a nice series on that topic here on NutritionFacts too. Here’s the summary page: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/igf-1/

      Of course, there’s all that saturated fat and cholesterol in diary which contributes to heart disease and diabetes. Cream would have even more fat than just milk.

      Another problem with dairy is a substance called galactose: “Lactose and galactose (milk sugars) have been studied in relation to milk’s purported effect on bone health. Elevated levels of galactose in the blood, as occurs in people with galactosemia, a deficiency that prevents the appropriate digestion of galactose, is associated with bone loss, even in children. And galactose has been used to cause premature aging in lab animals, leading to shortened lifespans, oxidative stress, inflammation, and brain degeneration.” https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/galactose/

      You mentioned sheep cheese. Note that cheese is concentrated dairy. It’s taking the breast milk and condensing it down. This process just exacerbates the health risks. I’d highly recommend a book called The Cheese Trap for more information about cheese in particular and dairy dairy general: https://www.amazon.com/Cheese-Trap-Breaking-Surprising-Addiction/dp/1455594687/ref=sr_1_1_twi_har_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507673958&sr=1-1&keywords=the+cheese+trap

      All of the problems listed here are health risks with dairy regardless of the mother’s species or whether added pesticides and hormones are used. There are some good alternatives to dairy. Let us know if you would like some suggestions.

  17. Stupid question I know as not enough research has been done but I love my butter! So what are your thoughts on putting butter on vegetables? I don’t use salt so what would be a good alternative on broccoli, asparagus…oils just don’t have enough flavor.

    1. Terri: It’s not a stupid question. It’s a great question!

      If you were to spend some more time watching the videos on this site, you would see that diary has more problems than just the on mentioned in this video. Further, while replacing a high saturated oil like butter with a vegetable oil will lower health risks, there are significant health risks with any oil. Oils are highly processed foods, pulling just the fat out of something. (Eat the olive, not the olive oil. Eat the peanuts, not the peanut oil. Etc.) Oil is pure junk food/empty calories. I wish I could link you to some of the key relevant videos on this site, but this forum doesn’t allow many links.

      However, we still have to eat our veggies and few people want to eat them plain. So, here are some ideas for you:

      1) consider moving to non-creamy based, easy to buy sauces. Ie: stuff like salsa.

      2) you can purchase delicious, oil-free dressings from sites like Fork Over Knives

      3) experiment with adding lemon juice or what has become a favorite of many people: fancy flavored balsamic vinegars. Chef AJ has some recommendations along this line. The key is to get a product that is relatively low acid. There are some really great flavors out there, including a smokey flavor and one that has hints of garlic.

      4) make your own creamy-based sauce/dip. There are lots of oil-free options which are easy to make if you have a blender. Here are some sites with some great recipes. (I think 4 links will go through.)
      > Volume 1: http://healthygirlskitchen.com/2011/09/big-list-of-no-oil-salad-dressings.html
      > Volume 2: https://sites.google.com/site/hgkprintablerecipes/the-big-list-of-oil-free-dressings-volume-ii
      > Fat Free Vegan, Buttermilk Dressing: http://tinyurl.com/hr5stk7
      > 10 Simple Recipes: http://tinyurl.com/zvxkt6t

      Here is one of my favorite creamy, flavorful, and easy recipes that I love putting on broccoli and artichoke hearts. Maple-Mustard Dressing/Dip (which I *think* I adapted from PCRM some years ago.)
      * 1/2 cup water (or bean liquid if it’s salt-free beans)
      * 1/4 cup nut butter (tahini, almond, etc. Or if have a high-speed blender, try raw cashews)
      * 1/4 cup mustard of your liking
      * 1/4 cup nutritonal yeast
      * 3 TB low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
      * 2 TB maple syrup
      * Zest and juice of 2 lemons OR 3-4 TB lemon juice (fresh, frozen)
      * 1 can (15 oz) beans – I used a white bean, ex: garbanzo, navy or cannelli (cannelli is especially creamy)

      Just put it all in a blender until smooth. Last several days in the fridge.

      None of these ideas are going to taste like butter. They will all likely take some getting used-to if you have your taste buds currently set on butter or some other pure fat. What the ideas DO do is give you lots of flavor and make vegetables taste good.

      Hope that helps. Good luck.

      1. Terri: I thought of one more that would be criminal if I left it out. The latest recipe that I absolutely LOVE (and I don’t even like veggies that much) is the orange-miso dressing from PCRM. https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/plant-based-diets/recipes/orange-miso-dressing I used frozen orange juice from concentrate and replace the black sesame seeds with tahini. I blend it all together in a blender, making 3 or 4 times the recipe at time. It never goes to waste. (Also: It works well on all kinds of dishes, such as pasta dishes.)

        If you try any of these ideas and you find they work for you, come back and let us know.

    2. Hello Terri,

      There are no stupid questions!
      If you are using regular butter, it will also have salt on it, so avoiding salt should not be the reason to opt for butter. Beyond that, nutritionfacts does not support butter or oil use of any kind because of several reasons. Consuming oils or butter paralyze your artery function and injure your blood vessels, as well as raise your cholesterol eventually leading to heart disease. Beyond that, saturated fat also causes insulin resistance, which is the cause of diabetes. I would suggest that you type “butter” into the search bar above and watch a few videos on the topic to further educate yourself on the health risks so you can make an educated decision about whether or not you want to continue using them.

      As for alternatives, you could try making your own dressings from the “How Not To Die” Cookbook or experiment by using avocado as a base and blending some spices together in a blender. Once you find a couple recipes you really like, it becomes quite easy.

      I hope this helps,

      Matt, Health Support

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