Asthmatic or You Have A Cold? Avoid Milk and Dairy!
We have been led to believe that if we have asthma or a lot colds and runny nose problems (rhinitis) or feel ‘phlegmy’ we need to cut down on the dairy foods we eat. However a recent study by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York has found that there is actually very little evidence to support this. Was our initial thinking just another “Old Wives’ Tale” and should we be rethinking what we eat or drink when we have these conditions? Is this another case of depriving ourselves of foods that are good for us, in the belief that they are doing us harm?
A Doctor at the Icahn School said “The evidence is very scarce to support any relationship between dairy consumption and either symptoms of mucous or worse, asthma control”
All in the Mind?
In many posts on this website, I have talked about the power of the mind for dealing with stress or chronic low back pain and it seems that the way we think about what will happen to us if we eat dairy or drink milk can actually lead us to believe that we have more cough or congestion because we have eaten dairy products. Others reported that their saliva felt thicker and their tongue felt ‘coated’. In reality, in experiments where one group was given soy milk and the other given cow’s milk, there was no difference in measured postnasal drip, sinus congestion, coughing or difficulty breathing. The expectation that being given cow’s milk was going to give symptoms made people believe that they had them, when they actually did not! The researchers measured the amount of nasal secretions and there was no statistically significant association between milk and dairy produce intake and symptoms of mucous production with a cold. American Journal of Respiratory Diseases 1990 Feb; 141 –(2).
Asthma and Milk
If you are asthmatic, chances are that you will have been advised not to drink too much milk. However, studies have shown that there is little or no link between milk consumption and lung function in people with asthma. However, bearing in mind the link between what we think is helping us and the fact that it often does, it might be the case that if people believe they feel better by eliminating dairy then maybe they should! The only time this could be a problem is in children who need the good nutrition found in milk and if we deny our children milk in the belief it will help their asthma, when there is no evidence of any benefit, we will be denying them the proven benefits of drinking milk. These include helping with growth and with bone development. If children suffer nutritional deficiencies early in their lives they can never recover from it – they need the good nutrition from a young age.
Unfortunately, continuing to believe in outdated myths such as these has led to Australians failing to include enough dairy products in their diet and this has led to the Australian Dietary Guidelines to report that eight out of ten adults and most children need to increase their intake of these foods to meet their Guidelines.
Food for thought!