By Scott Markey | Get Fit
Milk used to come one way: white and whole. All the flavor was there along with the fat. Now the popularity of plain whole milk has waned in favor of low-fat varieties, and ready-to-drink protein shakes.
Fat is out and new ingredients are in. These ingredients are designed to make milk appeal to people who would normally avoid it.
Milk that’s easier to digest
Some people don’t drink milk because they suffer from bloating, gas or other stomach problems. One explanation for these symptoms is that your body doesn’t produce enough lacstase enzyme to digest the lactose (sugar) in milk. This condition is called “lactose intolerance” and it affects about two-thirds of all adults worldwide, including yours truly. Some people who have a lactose deficiency can drink one glass of milk, but not two.
Several ingredients can be added to milk help you digest it.
If you cannot tolerate ordinary milk, try lactose-reduced milk. Lactase enzyme is added to the milk to reduce the lactose content by 70 percent or more. The most widely available national brand is Lactaid. Other major supermarkets carry their own brands, which are the same, but cost less. Lactose reduced milk actually tastes slightly sweeter than ordinary milk because the lactase enzyme breaks the milk sugar down into different, and sweeter, simple sugars; something I like, and you might as well.
Other products claim to promote easier digestibility by adding bacteria to milk products, such as bifidobacterium and lactobacillus acidophilus. The theory is that because these bacteria are normally present in your intestines to aid digestion, extra amounts will be beneficial. For most people, there is no proven health benefit — or harm — associated with drinking milk containing these bacteria.
The “sweet acidophilus” milk name comes from the addition of acidophilus bacteria. The flavor is actually the same as regular milk, the term “sweet” just distinguishes it from true acidophilus milk, which is fermented and has a tart taste.
Milk with extra ingredients
Milk is one of nature’s richest sources of calcium. In addition to eating calcium-containing foods every day, drinking calcium-fortified milk makes it even easier to get adequate calcium.
Most calcium-fortified brands supply you with at least twice as much calcium as regular milk does. A little extra protein is neither necessary nor desirable for most people, but if you train hard in or out of the gym, or if you are an athlete or competitor, most of you will need extra protein. The calcium levels will be fine.
I myself absolutely love milk, especially lactose-free milk. I consume at least a half-gallon a day; however, I do not recommend drinking that much to a sedentary person.
So give lactose-free milk a try. If you’re like me, you might find that you like the taste better than regular milk and how your body feels as well. Stay healthy, San Diego.
— Scott Markey has over 25 years in the fitness and health industry. He has graced dozens of magazine covers and specializes in physique management, training and nutritional consultation. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at email@example.com.