New alert over dairy products
Manama, May 11, 2008
Consuming dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt could cause hormone problems, weight gain and lowered immunity in children, says a top nutritionist in Bahrain.
The problem with dairy products is they contain natural and artificial hormones that are harmful to our health, claims Bahraini nutritional therapist Alia Almoayed.
'Cows are injected with up to 59 hormones and 52 kinds of antibiotics daily,' she told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
'All of these hormones can cause hormone imbalance in children, it can affect growth and make them go into puberty sooner, it can cause weight problems and can lead to infertility.'
'Even without this, dairy products create mucus in the body and children get congested more often. Infections are more severe so they need antibiotics. And mucus blocks the system and lowers immunity as a result.'
Children with learning difficulties, speech delays and recurrent ear infections significantly improve if dairy is taken out.
Almoayed was responding to the health ministry's drink milk campaign, which was launched last month to encourage children to drink more milk and less fizzy drinks.
The one-month campaign ensured that every child was given at least three packets of fresh milk in school every week.
Almoayed, who is a mother of two, said she was upset when her children came home from school with a strawberry milk drink that was made from powdered milk and contained colours, additives and preservatives.
'I agree with the fizzy drinks trap, but fresh juice or water is the alternative,' she said.
She said the argument often put forward for consuming dairy products is that it provides calcium. But according to Almoayed dairy doesn't contain magnesium, and this is needed for the body to absorb calcium.
'We are drinking more milk than we ever did, but osteoporosis is higher than it has ever been,' she said.
Better sources of calcium that contain magnesium are almonds, chickpeas, sesame seeds, hummus and dark green leafy vegetables.
Alternative drinks can be made from rice, almonds and oats. Goat's milk is slightly better than cow's milk and easier digested, said the nutritionist.
Sandwich filling alternatives to cheese include hummus, chicken and turkey slices, jam, honey, olive paste, peanut butter, avocado, olive oil and zattar, mutabal and so on.
Almoayed advises parents to research into the contents and side-effects of dairy and to at least reduce the quantity their children consume.
'Once you have done the research and implemented it, you will see the difference,' she said.
Health ministry nutrition section senior nutritionist Dr Nadia Gharib doubted that dairy products would harm children and asked for studies reporting this to be verified.
'On an accumulative basis it might cause problems in IQ or fertility, but not just taking it once or twice a day,' she said.
'But a concentration of hormones in Bahrain, I don't think such things will pass through the legislation of the Health Ministry where there is good monitoring and restriction, especially in milk. It is an item that is consumed widely.'
The 'Drink Milk' campaign was launched following a survey that revealed only 35 per cent of almost 200,000 schoolchildren of all ages in the country drank milk regularly but 60 per cent were hooked on fizzy drinks.
'The milk in the region is low in additives, it has nine types of nutrients, besides protein. It is much better than fizzy drinks. We feel at least milk and dairy products are better and beneficial,' said Dr Gharib.
'I do believe taking dairy products is very important towards having a balanced diet.' Dairy producers were unavailable for comment.-TradeArabia News Service