mmm…mucus…Patrick Holford-y mucus…

Wow, one Holford e-mail about allergies just keeps giving and giving. Patrick Holford advises that one “[a]void mucus-forming, pro-inflammatory foods such as dairy and meat.” Which would be fair enough – except, as a UK dietician commenting on the blog kindly pointed out, milk consumption doesn’t lead to mucus production.

To quote from the abstract of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition article, it was found that “[t]here is a belief among some members of the public that the consumption of milk and dairy products increases the production of mucus in the respiratory system. Therefore, some who believe in this effect renounce drinking milk. According to Australian studies, subjects perceived some parameters of mucus production to change after consumption of milk and soy-based beverages, but these effects were not specific to cows’ milk because the soy-based milk drink with similar sensory characteristics produced the same changes. In individuals inoculated with the common cold virus, milk intake was not associated with increased nasal secretions, symptoms of cough, nose symptoms or congestion.

At the risk of being repetitive, I should say again that cutting out whole food groups (e.g. dairy) from your diet is not something to do lightly. It’s certainly not something to do based on a largely inaccurate belief that milk leads to increased mucus formation. If you think you’re lactose intolerance, or are struggling to deal with your allergies, get medical advise – don’t make big changes to your diet based on Holford’s claims about mucus.



Filed under allergies, allergy, mucus, patrick holford

9 responses to “mmm…mucus…Patrick Holford-y mucus…

  1. Shinga

    Leaving aside my usual hobby-horse about the lack of any scientific support for the relationship between IgG levels and food intolerance – I am particularly cross when people talk about IgG testing for milk/lactose intolerance which they tend to use interchangeably. There is an excellent test for lactose intolerance – it is the hydrogen breath test which is suited for most age-groups except infants and very young children.

    Obtaining sufficient calcium from non-dairy sources is a mess. You would need to eat pounds of vegetables. Plus, although some tinned fish has good levels of calcium, some people don’t realise that you have to eat the bones (lots of people have a horror of fish bones and others just don’t have the teeth for bone crunching).

    Regards – Shinga

  2. Jon

    Thanks – yeah, I should have distinguished between milk and lactose intolerance. Even less point in resorting to IgG testing when there’s a relatively straightforward test – and one which verifiably works – for lactose intolerance.

  3. Anonymous

    I have told people countless times that just because milk looks mucousy doesn’t mean it causes mucous in the body. That is the same faulty reasoning that people go on low fat diets thinking that eating fat makes you fat. Ooops! Read “What if It’s All Been a Big, Fat Lie” in the NYT from a few years ago….

    People with an IgE or IgG reaction to milk can get mucousy, but these foods don’t cause mucous in everyone.

  4. Sara

    Well Shinga, I havent eaten dairy produce for 30 years. My calcium levels when checked were spot on. Surely this is not possible.!
    Get a veg jucer and juice up some Kale.
    It isnt to hard really. Try whizzing up sesamae seeds daily in smoothies.
    No doubt we are going to develop osteoperosis with out cheeeeeese. Well my bone density is spot on as well. Surely not.
    Ratios of calcium, magnesium, boron, vit K are more important. The ratios in milk are awful.
    Plus the regualr consimption of dairy puts an acidic load on the system, drawing alkalining minerals from bone.
    You wont find much osteoperosis in dairy free countries

  5. Claire

    I don’t know if China could be called a ‘dairy free’ country but the diet is traditionally low on dairy or for many does not include dairy at all. Yet osteoporosis is a concern there, according to this report: . “He said that a study involving more than 55,000 people showed that the prevalence of osteoporosis was 16.1 percent. In the group aged 40 and over, 16.1 percent of men and 19.9 percent of women had the disease. In the group aged 60 and over, the prevalence was 15 percent in men and 28.6 percent in women…” 28.6 percent in women over 60 is not negligible, Sara.

  6. Sara

    I think your concentrating far to greatly on calcium. There is a great deal involved in bone health, not just calcium. There were no doubt all sorts of deficencies, poor diet and poor life style choice involved in this study.
    How come osteoperosis is occuring here so much when everyone eats dairy?,Claire.

  7. Sara- clearly, there are a number of factors involved in osteoporosis (exercise levels is an obvious example). However, surely it’s a bad thing if people are encouraged to eat an unnecessarily restricted diet based on mistaken assumptions about the ‘mucus-forming’ properties attributed to milk?

  8. Claire

    How come osteoperosis is occuring here so much when everyone eats dairy?,Claire.

    I claim no expertise at all but, at a guess, factors could include:l longer lives – more of us surviving into older age, which is when this disease generally is detected; age related hormonal changes (e.g. more women now surviving well past menopause, now that we are not so much at risk of perinatal death, death from infectious disease etc); less weight bearing exercise in rich countries as lifestyles become more sedentary.

  9. Claire

    my point above being that this disease is likely due to a number of factors, genetic, lifestyle, and dietary. To say things like ‘you won’t find much osteoporosis in dairy free countries’ is misleading (and, in the case of China, clearly wrong). As JonHW points out above, encouraging people to exclude a food group which might actually benefit those at risk is sure a bad thing.

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