Calcium, proteins, vitamins and minerals: all the benefits of milk, to which even lactose intolerant should not give up. Food often misinformed, milk is a very important product for your body. But how can drinking milk cause intestinal disorders, cramps and swelling? By choosing the right products, even those who do not digest milk can take it, thus enjoying all its nutritive properties.
The beneficial properties of milk
In a balanced diet, milk should never be lacking. It helps bone development, contributes to tooth health, as well as being a food with high nutritional qualities. It is no coincidence that all nutritionists recommend to include it in the children’s menu.
The benefits of milk are many. First of all, it is an important source of calcium. In 100 g of milk, in fact, there are 119 mg of calcium: only one glass is able to provide a third of the recommended daily requirement. It is therefore essential even in adulthood, both to prevent osteoporosis, and to ensure proper muscle and heart function. Next to calcium, it contains minerals such as phosphorus, which strengthens the skeleton and helps the body to absorb calcium, as well as transporting important energy molecules.
Another essential nutritive ingredient of milk is the vitamins it contains. In particular vitamin D, useful for bones, teeth and skin and for the correct function of the locomotor system and the immune system, but also A, B2 and B12. Without forgetting the proteins: casein and lactalbumin on all but also the whey proteins. These, in particular, are often assumed by athletes because they are necessary for the correct muscular protein turn-over, but also by those on a diet because they have a high satiating power.
Finally, milk also contains carbohydrates, in the form of lactose, which are essential for a correct energy supply, especially during the first years of life.
We often hear that milk is a complete food. Although there is no truly complete food, the reason for this statement is simple: its proteins – in particular the casein which covers 80% of the total – correspond to a third of the average daily need of each person.
What is lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance is determined by the maldigestion and the consequent malabsorption of this sugar, caused by the lack of the enzyme lactase. In some subjects, this maldigestion may give rise to a clinical condition, linked to the permanence, inside the intestine, of the unabsorbed lactose. But what is lactose? Lactose is a disaccharide, composed of a molecule of D-galactose and one of D-glucose. Normally, the intestinal cells of the duodenum produce an enzyme called lactase that serves to separate the lactose into glucose and galactose: only in this way our body can absorb it.
When this does not happen you can become intolerant. The permanence of lactose in the intestine carries with it precise consequences. The first is the osmotic recall of water inside the intestine and the fermentation effected by the bacterial flora. This causes problems like flatulence, meteorism, abdominal cramps, diarrhea or even constipation: the symptoms can be mild and tolerable, up to creating more serious consequences. Moreover, in some cases, intolerance can also generate symptoms “far” from the gastro-intestinal system, such as headaches and irritability.
Often this condition manifests itself in adults. The reason is twofold: on the one hand the progressive loss of lactase is physiological in many individuals and on the other the lower consumption of milk involves a reduction in the synthesis of this enzyme.
Being intolerant, however, does not necessarily mean having to cut out an important food like milk from our diet. With the right precautions and suitable products you can continue drinking milk, but also to eat products such as mozzarella, ricotta and fresh cheeses.
Intolerant, like not giving up the benefits of milk
Not all subjects can be defined as intolerant. Only those that in the presence of this malabsorption give rise to a clinical symptomatology. In any case, once the intolerance has been identified, it is not necessary to completely eliminate the milk from the diet. Even those who are intolerant, therefore, can enjoy the benefits of milk.
In these cases, the secret is milk with high digestibility, an increasingly widespread product.
Also known as milk delattosato or HD milk (from the English words High Digestible), is a food that has already been subjected to the action of the enzyme lactase: lactose, in practical terms, has already been broken down into galactose and glucose. A product designed specifically for those suffering from intolerance, so that they can avoid all the negative consequences of drinking milk.
The kinds of milk
The first important distinction to make to know this food is between whole milk, partially skimmed and skim: among the three, whole milk is the most fat and tasty, since it contains 3.5-5% of fat compared to the total.
To obtain the semi-skimmed milk, the fat part of the whole milk is eliminated through a centrifugation process. In this case, half of the cream is removed and it reaches a fat level between 1.5 and 1.8%. Specifically, the skimmed milk can not contain more than 0.53% of fat by law, so it is suitable for those on a diet.
What changes for those who are intolerant? In reality, nothing: that the milk is whole or skim, the important thing is that it is lactose-free.
The different types of milk also differ according to the treatment they have undergone: in particular, pasteurized micro-filtered milk and UHT milk are also produced in a delattosed version.
The pasteurized microfiltrate has been submitted to two processes. First we have microfiltration, which allows to eliminate more than 99% of micro-organisms responsible for the deterioration of fresh milk and ensures that it is preserved for a long time. It is also pasteurized, ie subjected to a temperature of 75-85 degrees for 10-15 seconds (High Temperature Short Time). Also in this case, the additional bacteria that may have remained are eliminated, in order to extend the expiry date, without the product failing. A treatment that offers the protection of infection protection, without damaging proteins and vitamins too much like other treatments.
For this type of milk, the law requires consumption within 6 days of heat treatment.
UHT milk is instead subjected to heat treatment at higher temperatures than the previous one (135-140 degrees for 3-5 seconds) and is kept for up to 6 months. In this case, however, nutrients are reduced considerably, especially vitamins, due to the thermal process.