Milk is one of nature’s most perfect foods – meaning it can pass along nearly perfect nutrition. Lately, there has been a lot of discussion around sugar and its detrimental effects on health. Is there sugar in milk and is it bad
Sugar is toxic. Researchers are finding that sugar can be very harmful to our bodies causing a wide array of health problems like diabetes, weight gain, premature aging, metabolic problems, cancer and even heart disease. Must I go on…
Read more about sugar and its effect on your body in my previous post Are you Poisoning Yourself with Sugar
Milk has Sugar in It but…
If you read the nutrition facts on your milk jug, you would see that there is sugar in milk. But milk sugar is healthy sugar. The sugar in milk is natural, healthy, and not added
First, you need to define sugar more clearly:
SUGAR – Sugar is the generalized name for sweet, short-chain, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. They are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. There are various types of sugar derived from different sources
Sugar is a catch-all name for many different sweeteners. When you compare sugar on beverages, the nutrition facts will say sugar, but they may be different kinds of sweetener – fructose, sucrose, or (like in milk) lactose. Saying these sugars are the same is misleading.
It’s like comparing apples and oranges.
Milk Sugar (Lactose) is Healthy Sugar
Most beverages are sweetened with sucrose and fructose. Most people understand that fructose is bad but Cane sugar (sucrose) is just as bad because it’s a disaccharide sugar made of glucose and fructose. Fructose is the sugar that your liver has trouble processing. It ends up storing excess fructose in your liver because it filters it as a toxin.
Milk sugar (lactose) is different – a disaccharide sugar made of glucose and galactose. No fructose. Milk sugar has no fructose.
Health Benefits of Milk Sugar
Most people view milk sugar negatively because of lactose intolerance problems, but there are actually many benefits to lactose for your body. Galactose is much healthier than fructose, here are some beneficial effects: (Source) (Source)
- Supports brain development
- Supports brain function
- Brain tissue building block (Cerebrosides)
- Helps trigger long-term memory formation
- Inhibit tumor growth
- Myelin synthesis (Nerve insulation)
- Enhances wound healing
- Decreases inflammation
- Enhances cellular communication
- Increases calcium absorption
- Protects body from X-ray radiation
- Prevents cataracts
- Boosts immune system
Researchers are still discovering how this sugar affects the body, but they are sure of one thing- Your body needs galactose for proper function.
Interestingly, people who are lactose intolerant and drink less milk are often found deficient in galactose.
Milk Sugar Fuels your Brain
People who drink milk have better Mental and Cognitive function
Say what.. Does milk sugar actual help your brain? Reading the health benefits of galactose, you can quickly see that galactose is essential to proper bodily function and especially your mind.
Memory tests actually show that milk drinkers have better cognitive function. A study done by the University of Maine determined that adults consuming higher amounts of dairy products scored higher on memory and cognitive tests than people who drank little milk. The people drinking more milk were 5 times less likely to fail a test than non-milk drinkers. (Source)
Drink your milk if you want to enhance your brain’s cognitive function.
Interestingly, countries whose people drink the most milk (per capita) are more likely to win Nobel Prizes (per capita). Coincidence – I think not. (Source)
Milk Sugar doesn’t Cause Diabetes
Another interesting point about milk sugar is that milk sugar has a minimal impact to your body. Unlike other sweeteners that spike your blood glucose levels in your body, milk sugar has a minimal impact on blood glucose levels.
According to Joe O’Donnell of the California Dairy Research Foundation, unlike fast sugars that are broken down quickly by the body and converted to fat, lactose breaks down more slowly and paces itself to the body allowing it to be burned when the body needs it. In summary, less fat conversion than other sugars
If you continually spike your blood-glucose levels, it can lead to metabolic problems like diabetes. Maintaining a more even blood sugar level is considered ideal.
For reference, Lactose’s glycemic index number (45) is much lower than glucose (100), and galactose is much lower at (25).
Milk Sugar feeds your Gut
Another big positive of milk sugar is that it feeds the bacteria in your gut. The disaccharide bond makes lactose difficult to digest, and this is often seen as negative (lactose intolerance). But this problem is actually milk sugars great strength – it is slower for your body to digest.
Most milk sugars are absorbed quickly, but milk sugar is absorbed slowly in your digestive system. This allows it to be absorbed by bacteria in your gut. You can literally be feeding the bacteria and help them flourish.
Maintaining a vibrant and healthy gut microflora is important in maintaining a healthy body. Bacteria can manufacture vitamins, break down substances, and produce a variety of other beneficial compounds for your body.
Read my whole article on lactose and why it’s healthy here
Nutrition Label Comparison
When you read the nutrition facts on labels and compare sugar, remember that you may not be comparing the same types of sugar.
Sugar means – sucrose, fructose, lactose and many other sugars.
Perhaps in the future nutrition facts will differentiate the different types of sugar because all sugar is not created equal.
Unlike other unnatural processed sugars (Cane Sugar, Sucrose, and HFCS), Milk Sugar is healthy and made for your body to digest. Milk sugar is 100% natural and designed for your body.