Have you ever wondered why we are the only species of mammals that drink milk into adulthood? Other mammals only drink milk as infants and eventually wean off as they grow older.
Even though we are unique in our milk consumption, dairy products have a substantial presence in the food pyramid as a healthy staple ingredient for a balanced diet.
However, there is an increasingly large number of studies and research that indicate consuming non-fermented milk products throughout adulthood may actually harm your health.
This article may make you think twice before dipping your Oreos in a cold glass of milk.
What is nonfermented milk?
Examples of nonfermented milk products are:
- Ice cream
- Pasteurized milk
- Skim milk
- Evaporated milk
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Milk powder
- Whey protein concentrate
- Fresh cheese such as mozzarella, cottage cheese, and cream cheese
A recent study published on Science Direct looked at 103,256 adults from Northern Sweden and compared their mortality rates and their consumption of nonfermented milk. The study participants were similar in ratio to male and female, with 51% being female.
Researchers utilized Cox proportional hazards models to keep the study as impartial as possible to adjust the data for age, sex, body mass index, energy intake, smoking status, physical activity, education, and the examination year.
An increase in mTORC1
The referenced study found a correlation between those who drank milk and an increase in the protein complex known as mTORC1. Without getting too scientific, in 2001, mTORC1 was discovered to be related to the human aging process.
In an unrelated mTORC1 study, the higher this protein complex in mice, the shorter their lifespans were. By lowering the presence of mTORC1 in mice, the study recorded significant increases in their lifespans.
The data from the mTORC1 study and the Northern Sweden study indicate that the increase of mTORC1 in humans caused by consumption of nonfermented milk may be tied to shorter lifespans.
The data showed that those who drank nonfermented milk more than two and a half times a day had a 32% higher risk of death than those who consumed the same milk less than one time per day.
Sweden is typically the target of research involving milk due to the high milk consumption of the population. However, numerous past studies have only been able to tie pasteurized milk consumption with shorter lifespans. The “why” has not been evident until discovering the link between nonfermented milk consumption, mTORC1, and the aging process of humans.
The potential benefits of fermented milk
However, fermented milk products may actually help protect your health. The Sweden study found that lactic acid bacteria found in fermented milk products reduce the mTORC1 effects.
Examples of fermented milk products are:
- Most cheese that is not “fresh cheese”
- Sour cream
The result of consuming fermented milk products versus non-fermented milk products is a longer life span.
Additional research is still necessary to make a concrete correlation between non-fermented milk and a shorter lifespan. Still, this initial research makes compelling arguments against adding milk to your cereal tomorrow.