When I was a kid, it was all about milk. "Set the table! Wash your hands! Milk or water?" was the refrain at every mealtime. Not juice, not iced tea, not soda (Diet Coke wouldn't take hold for another decade)—just water or milk, milk or water, simple as that, as though the two were interchangeable. Nonfat for my mom, 1% for my dad. I remember my best friend's parents always bought 2%, which basically tasted like melted ice cream to me after a lifetime of skim. I always chose milk at their house.
But now, as an adult, I can't even remember the last time I had a glass of milk—especially not as a beverage, not with a meal. And I don't know anybody else who drinks milk either. Who the fuck drinks milk!? Not only that, the people around me seem confused when I mention how commonplace milk was in my childhood. They always hated milk as kids. Milk is obviously gross. It's like butter-water. It's boob-juice from a cow's nipple. I must be some kind of milk-mustached milk-glugging, milky weirdo, smelling faintly of sour cream, raking in big bucks from the milk lobby, and laughing maniacally as dairy cows moo piteously for their bodily autonomy. That's me, I guess.
But seriously, is that me? Am I a weirdo!? MILK USED TO BE NORMAL, RIGHT, GUYS!?
Anyway, whatever. We have pretty much no dairy in my house now because my partner lacks my lactose-crushing Norwegian genetics, so milk products make him inflate and explode like a decomposing whale carcass. And it's not worth it for me to buy whole cartons of the stuff just for a splash in my coffee here and there.
But I still think about milk sometimes. Milk is good. And, according to a new study (echoing decades of "milk builds strong bones" sloganeering), milk is also good for you, if you are a woman in possession of knees who is concerned about osteoarthritis.
A degenerative disease causing pain and swelling of the knee joints, knee osteoarthritis currently has no cure. But researchers say drinking milk every day has been linked to reduced progression of the disease.
...The researchers found that, in women, as milk intake increased (from none to less than 3, 4-6, and more than 7 glasses per week), the joint space width decreased (by 0.38 mm, 0.29 mm and 0.26 mm, respectively).
Yeah! Milk is BACK! Go milk!!! Milkstory will bear me out!
But don't get too excited. It's not all good news:
Publishing their results in the American College of Rheumatology journal Arthritis Care & Research, the researchers say while their findings show that women who regularly drank fat-free or low-fat milk experienced delayed progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA), those who ate cheese actually experienced an increase in progression of the disease.
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. So I have to choose between debilitating degenerative disease and CHEESE!?!?!!? Thanks, universe.
Anyway, obviously not everyone can drink milk (as my exploding boyfriend can attest), overconsumption of anything can have negative health effects, there are certainly ethical issues behind large-scale dairy production, and I'm sure the confluence of a million other factors (such as overall health, physical activity, and number of Tillamook Baby Loaves consumed per day) make milk a poor panacea for joint health. But STILL, it's comforting to know that milk has my back (or rather, my knee) in some small way. Because I still love you, milk, even if I always choose water now. Sigh.
Image via Getty.