Got Milk? New research suggests that you may not need it. Until relatively recently, the American Dairy Association urged Americans to drink as much as four 8-ounce glasses of milk each day. 32 ounces of milk – that’s two pounds!

Currently, the Department of Agriculture recommends three cups of milk per day. That’s still one and a half pounds for every man, woman, and child. Dairy products do contain nutrients, and a serving or two a day is probably fine. But, according to recent data, many people should consider forgoing milk entirely.

Though milk is often touted as among the healthiest beverage options, there are downsides. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, commented “Sugar — in the form of lactose — contributes about 55 percent of skim milk’s calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda.” And the Department of Agriculture’s website rarely mentions water, though it’s an all-natural, zero-calorie alternative to drinking milk.

Milk-Related Health Conditions

As many as 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, including up to 90% of Asian-Americans and 75% of African-Americans and Mexican-Americans. In addition, many people have milk allergy. In fact, milk allergy is estimated to be the second most common form of childhood food allergy, behind peanut allergy. Reactions to milk can be life-threatening. Many other people experience side effects such as an upset stomach or heartburn that appear to occur after consuming dairy products, but cannot be easily linked to a specific condition.

If you believe you have a dairy-related condition, many doctors recommend avoiding all foods containing milk for at least five days to see if your symptoms improve.

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