Drinking milk in the morning is not harmful: health experts

Nutritionists said milk is healthy and can be consumed at any time of day, contrary to a video viewed more than one million times on Facebook urging consumers to avoid the dairy product in the morning. The posts also warned that drinking milk could cause arthritis and heart disease but health experts said there was not enough evidence to support this claim.

"Oh my, so we can no longer drink milk in the morning?" reads a Tagalog-language Facebook reel with more than 1.4 million views since it was shared on April 11, 2024. 

The video shows a man telling viewers to "avoid certain foods in the morning", such as milk. An unrelated clip of plantains plays on the right.

Citing unnamed research, he claimed milk "does not build strong bones" and "promotes arthritis and heart disease". 

He then recommends soybean powder as a milk substitute and says it can fight arthritis. 

The video also discourages viewers from eating spreads due to "high palm oil content" and from drinking sugary supermarket juices.

Screenshot of the false Facebook reel, taken April 29, 2024

The same video was shared in Facebook reels here, here and here

But health experts reassured consumers that drinking milk in the morning had no adverse effects for most people, although they agreed that spreads and supermarket juices should be taken in moderation.

'Demonising' foods unhelpful

Mary Claire Lopez, a registered nutritionist in the Philippines, said milk can be consumed at any time of day (archived link). 

"Consumption of milk in the morning has no adverse effect on our health unless you have gut problems like hyperacidity, as the lactose in milk may cause gastric discomfort," she told AFP on April 29. 

Filipino registered nutritionist Jana Ocampo also said milk "is not bad for you" and contains essential nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, vitamin D and protein (archived link).

"Demonising food such as milk is not helping at all," she told AFP on April 28. "It would be more harmful if we cut it out completely."

The Philippines' Food and Nutrition Research Institute recommends adults aged 20 to 39 drink one glass of milk daily (archived link). 

Both Ocampo and Lopez rebuffed the claim that milk could lead to arthritis or heart disease. 

"Linking milk consumption and arthritis is still not confirmed by studies," Ocampo said. 

Lopez said factors such as lifestyle, diet and medical history contributed to risk of heart disease. 

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said that studies suggesting any connection between drinking milk and heart ailments -- such as coronary heart disease, strokes and hypertension -- were "inconclusive" (archived link). 

Soybeans have less calcium

Luzon-based registered nutritionist Riem Dante said soybeans could be a "good source of plant protein" but were harder for the body to absorb (archived link). 

"It also does not contain anywhere near as much calcium as milk," he told AFP on April 28. 

Registered nutritionist Karyne Simon added that while soy contained anti-inflammatory properties, there was "no scientific basis" for swapping milk with soybean powder for "arthritis relief" (archived link). 

However, the nutritionists acknowledged that spreads and supermarket juices -- with high fat and sugar content -- are best taken in moderation.

"There is no such thing as bad food, but anything in excess causes adverse effects to your health," Lopez said. 

Is there content that you would like AFP to fact-check? Get in touch.

Contact us