After medical school, my friend Brian moved to Baltimore, MD, and became a pain management specialist. He’s been working with my Four Recommendations for about a year now, but he recently wrote to ask for more information about why I recommend whole milk over skim milk. In his own practice, he sees that the diabetics and pre-diabetics (with metabolic syndrome) seem to struggle with more pain and arthritis than the patients without these diagnoses. Here’s what Dr. Brian wrote last week:
“I read your four rules to live (eat) by. I get them except for the whole milk vs. skim milk. Do you have something I could read to understand that better? I’ve been sending lots of people to the blog, great stuff.”
This week I’ll talk about why skim milk is no kind of improvement, and why whole milk is far and away the better choice.
The tried and true answer, the one I’ve been sharing all along, is that fats (natural only, in case you were wondering) decrease the rate of food absorption, which decreases the amount of insulin that you require to metabolize your food. Since insulin is the fat storage hormone, the less you use, the less fat you store.
The latest information is more specific and more compelling. Dairy fat contains a fatty acid called trans palmitoleic acid. Research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health, published just two weeks ago in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that trans palmitoleic acid is protective against new-onset diabetes. The study, which ran from 1992 to 2006 in four U.S. communities, followed 3736 adults. Whole-fat dairy consumption was most strongly associated with higher trans-palmitoleate levels, which were associated with higher HDL, lower triglyceride, lower C-reactive protein, lower insulin resistance, and a substantially lower incidence of diabetes.
As Dr. Brian has observed in his pain management practice, diabetes is causing pain and inflammation even more far-reaching than what we typically associate with it.
Try switching to whole milk yourself. In fact, let me suggest you run an experiment: run a tape measure around the widest part of your waistline and mark down the number. Then recheck it in a few weeks. Send me your numbers, and let’s get them up and posted online!