Monday, October 24 2016


Milk a valued product in VN, but it might not be that good for you

Update: February, 26/2016 - 09:10

Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers for their opinions on whether they think people should be drinking milk or not due to some studies suggesting that drinking milk is actually not good for your health as you might have thought.

Here are some comments:

Bill Robinson, American, Ha Noi

If five million studies, articles, experts, and positive results say that MILK IS GOOD FOR YOU, and one fool tries to deny all the research, who do you believe? Milk is unquestionably nature's most perfect food and I am tired of people who have no credentials or credibility trying to deny that milk builds strong bodies, agile minds, and good general health, because milk does all that and more.

I have been in the dairy industry for most of my life (I'm 75 years old and retired) and I claim some higher level of expertise about the qualities of and benefits of milk. You don't have to be an expert though—just look at young adults who have had the benefit of drinking milk all their lives, contrasted with young adults who have not. The milk drinkers are taller, stronger and generally healthier than those who were denied milk in their early lives. When you look at each group it is easy to see who drank milk and ate yogurt, cheese, and yes, even ice cream. Look at their records of health during their youth and you will find that milk drinkers are better in every respect.

It should be noted that although milk varies in taste depending on what the cows, sheep or goats ate and what country they ate it in, the bigger dairies like Vinamilk blend their milk to achieve a consistent flavor profile, so one package of milk tastes almost exactly the same as every other of their milk products. For young children, this is a good thing because their palates become used to a flavour and they want that exact taste when they drink their milk. The fat content of the milk is not all that important, and giving kids a lower fat milk is generally beneficial to their long-term health. Quantity is very important, and children should drink at least 32 ounces (0.95 liters) of milk every day. It does not have to be in the form of fresh, liquid milk, but can be in cheese, yogurt or even ice cream. This quantity will provide their bodies with the balance of protein, fat and vitamins they need to assure growth and full development.

So in answer to your question, "Should we be drinking milk?" I would reply "YES, EMPHATICALLY YES!" Follow the Milky Way to health and give your children the opportunity to compete in both athletic and educational contests. They will benefit tremendously.

Mark Garvin, a reader

I agree with professor Ludwig. Cow milk is great food for calves - it takes them from 60 to 600 pounds in eight months. It is about four times more potent than human milk, making it unsuitable for infants. Milk and dairy products are very high in fat and cholesterol and therefore contribute to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Countries whose populations consume a lot of these products have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Sufficient calcium is easily obtained from leafy greens, in which the Vietnamese diet is particularly rich. Vitamin D is obtained from sunlight of which there is no shortage in Viet Nam. Dairy is a relatively new thing in Viet Nam - Vietnamese were perfectly healthy before - why start now?

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

Nothing's better for a baby than mother's breast milk. After your first few years, cow milk is acceptable. Not to discredit Harvard, but there is always a new study about this and that.

People should be more worried about fast food, soft drinks and general environmental pollution. There are, however, serious concerns regarding the cattle industry. Cattle are fed genetically modified food and are injected with antibiotics and growth hormones.

Pretty much everything we consume contains some kind of contaminant including the plastic bottle container leaching into its contents. Don't even get me started on pesticides! There is an expression "one man's meat is another man's poison."

This means what I like you might not. We need to educate ourselves on our DNA heritage within each family and race while also moderating what we consume. Advances in medicine allow us to conceal unhealthy lifestyles.

There is a buffet of choices and studies to pick and choose from. Take this latest "too much milk study" with a pinch of salt. On second thought, hold the salt and pass me a glass of water instead of that milk. Sometimes moderation is not enough (or too much).

In this case, eat it or drink it. Wait for the morning's digestion. Trust your gut (and other parts) to decide your next meal.

Tan Luong, Vietnamese

I was born in the poor countryside and had no opportunity to drink milk during my childhood. That's the reason I am not used to having milk very often. However, my kids use many kinds of milk. So I know a lot of milk brand names, including local and imported milk.

In my opinion, drinking milk is the best way to take care of our health and we should use an appropriate kind according to individual demand. The problem is how to choose the right milk. Regarding the newspaper article about the negative effects of certain types of milk, I have read an original version on the internet and it is about low fat milk. I think the Government should pay more attention to this issue and give specific advice so that consumers can find good sources of milk.

In conclusion, we should not stop drinking milk as long as it is suitable for us.

Phil Bounds, a reader

Whilst prevention and knowledge are good protocols, people in this day and age are too susceptible and easily worried by information overload. I say the same as my parents and my doctor, everything in moderation is fine.

The more immediate issue regarding Vietnamese milk in supermarkets is the SUGAR content allowed in it. In England, milk is pasteurised skimmed, semi-skimmed and whole milk. That's it, you can get sterilised milk, but it's less popular and harder to find. My wife's Vietnamese friends don't give their babies much milk due to issues with their teeth rotting out from sugar, never mind bone calcium depletion. You're going to see more fat and toothless kids before you ever see bone deficiencies. The people in Vietnam who say they would continue to drink milk in support of the country's dairy sector are obviously too patriotic for their own health if that has anything to do with their decision!

As we discover more, our industry should adapt and either grow on its merits or fall on its sword if it's not good for the people and animals. Moderation and everything can be enjoyed.

Aimee Cima, American, Ha Noi

There are many studies that suggest adverse health in proportion to milk consumption – particularly the milk protein casein. The quality of milk or fat content, although it is important, is not the underlying cause of disease. At low levels, a bit of milk/cheese/yogurt are fine. At levels typical of American/European/Australia/NZ, consumption of dairy is almost a perfect linear correlation to chronic disease incidence.

Check out "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. Much like in the US, the milk industry is a business like any other that wants to sell more of its product. It is especially influential in the Ministries of Health and Agriculture to "encourage" greater consumption for the sake of "good health".

All said, it's fine to have dairy products occasionally, but there are better, cheaper sources of calcium (beans, veg, small crabs/fish/shrimp with the shell) that also cause less damage to the environment. —VNS

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