T Nation

milk and immune function

Lactobacillus apparently produces enzymes that help digest milk products. Would a sudden reduction in milk product intake potentially result in a reduction in lactobacillus levels? Further and most importantly, could such a drop in lactobacillus levels effect a reduction in overall immune function? Despite the academic tone of this question, having this answered by someone qualified would be of great, great help.

This is a great question, and in fact I am studying something similar to this in calves(I am an Animal Science major). First of all, according to current literature on the subject, the mechanism by which this bacteria enhances the immune system is unknown. It has been suggested that the by-products of the fermented milk by this bacteria is actually what causes the increased cellular immunity. Now as you may know there are two basic basic responses of your immune system: Humoral response(which is your basic chemical or antibody response) and the cellular responses which involve the T-lymphocytes(killer cells). It has been shown that these bacteria increase the proliferation of the t-cells and there subsequent interactions with both macrophages, and the antigens themselves.

So, to make a long story short, these bacteria do enhance your immune response, and chances are there are established colonies within your body. But what you may not realize, is that if these bacterium have the correct enzymes, they can also survive upon other substrates such as galactose and glucose (as opposed to lactose, which is found in milk). So, the bacteria will remain alive in your body, but the associated beneficial affects of the bacteria will most likely decrease, because as I said earlier, the beneficial affects are thought to be from the fermentation of milk products.

Thanks for the response. It was quite informative. In less than two months, I’ve had three cases of cellulitis which, of course, needed antibiotic treatment. I have no condition which is normally thought to contribute to this, such as diabetes, etc. I’m in very good shape, a competitive ultimate fighter, in fact. I’m pretty baffled, so I’m considering any factors that may cause general immune function impairment. I came up with this theory because right before the first instance of my affliction, I cut out my milk consumption to help diet off a few pounds. I know this is far-fetched, but all the non far-fetched solutions have been considered and rejected. By the way, could you give me any references concerning the interaction between milk and the bacteria? Thanks again.

NO! I am a doctor of Chiropractic and do nutritional counseling very heavily in my practice of 10 years!! I would strongly suggest taking milk out of diet all together!!! (Casean protiens are OK as long as you group them with whey and egg albumen)Lactobacilli will be fine as long as you have a healthy diet and are not taking any antiobiotics. The human Body is only capable of digesting milk beyond the first 5 years of life, at most. And it is adapted to mothers first milk only…NOT cows milk. You need to understand that cows develop milk to aid in the digestion and growth of COWS NOT HUMANS!!! Cows develope at a much faster rate than humans…therefore reguire a much different milk than we do…why everyone needs to drink milk is largely a corporate/socialogical question…NOT one of nutritional need!! Humans as a species develope at a MUCH slower pace than that of cows…and this suggests that drinking cows milk, or milk of other animals for that matter, is not suggested unless you wish your body to age prematurely…ask yourself one thing…do you know of any other species on this planet that drinks the milk of another species or drinks milk beyond the stage of infantcy??? HMMM…does Milk really do a body good…in my practice…NO!

In addition to the last post (great post doc!) read this:

http://www.mercola.com/ 2000/feb/27/no_milk.htm

http://www.mercola.com/2000/ jul/30/milk.htm

http://www.mercola.com/ 1999/jan/24/dont_get_milk.htm

http://www.mercola.com/2001/ apr/11/milk.htm

Don’t forget to delete the empty spaces in the links.

Oh crap! Thanks for the links to mercola.com, but now I am completely freaked out! I consume large amounts of milk products all the time, and I have absolutely no idea if they are from BGH treated cows. Not to mention I love milk, CHEESE, cottage cheese, and yogurt. I think I’m gonna cry. What can I do to help fight BGH usage?

Don’t know, i don’t drink milk. It gives me a really bad case of acne in no time. I do eat ocasionaly cheese and butter. Maybe the doc who posted above knows something about that?

As long as you don’t have cancer I don’t think you should have to worry about IGF1 in the milk. It may help build you up. I am more worried about the insulin spike from milk then IGF1, plus the saturated fat. Although if you do have cancer, avoid it like the plague. Studies on rats using a calorie restricted diet on rats with cancer showed a stop in cancer growth with the drop in IGF1. Then they injected the rats with IGF1 and the cancer started growing again.

I don’t consider milk to be the poison many think it is. As long as you don’t have allergies, or are lactose intolerant. (I have read that one half of the people who think that they are lactose intolerant are mistaken.) Still, cottage cheese is better. I make sure to take acidophilus once in a while to maintain good bacteria.

On a side note, I would like to say that chiropractors are not doctors. Additionally, sir, you are a quack and an animal rights freak. Milk tastes great, is healthy for almost everyone and belongs in a healthy fitness-oriented diet.

Whee-ew!! I was worried there for a minute. Naw just kidding, I was joking in my first post because these anti-milk people crack me up. Why do so many people have a tendency to take such one sided stances on everything, and the really extremist types allways back up thier statements with conspiracy theories. I try not to poke too much fun because they get really bent out of shape and start frothing at the mouth, so spit flys at me when they talk. It’s pretty gross.