Can milk cause constipation?
August 26, 2008 7:59 PM   Subscribe

Can [cold] milk cause constipation?

My mother, grandmother, and great grandmother all swear that cold milk causes constipation, and my sister thinks so too, and I have definitely been having severe problems drinking milk (cold or warm, no difference). As far as I can search the internet, milk is supposed to be GOOD for constipation. Not the other way around. What goes?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
I don't know a lot about this, but severe problems drinking milk = lactose intolerance?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:28 PM on August 26, 2008

My cousin says milk makes her constipated. I can't see how the temperature would make any difference - it would be body temperature by the time it reached your intestines.
For the record, I am lactose intolerant and milk causes the opposite reaction: gas, bloating and diarrhea.
posted by catatethebird at 8:37 PM on August 26, 2008

Could this be a confirmation bias thing? I know that I only drink milk when I'm gorging myself on carbohydrate-rich foods like cookies and brownies, which don't have a ton of fiber.
posted by arianell at 9:18 PM on August 26, 2008

A double-blind study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1998 concluded that cow's milk could cause chronic constipation in children, but that's hardly what you're talking about. As catatethebird says, it's hard to see that the temperature of consumption would affect the temperature in the gut very much, unless you're drinking gallons or something.
posted by grouse at 9:26 PM on August 26, 2008

My doctor says it does, regardless of temperature -- excepting case of lactose intolerance and so on.
posted by acoutu at 9:29 PM on August 26, 2008

I think your matronly ancestors are all lactose intolerant. I drink lots of cold milk, and I poop excellently.
posted by ignignokt at 9:42 PM on August 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

I get constipated from milk and some kinds of cheese. Cold or warm doesn't make a difference. Haven't done a test, but I guess it's a kind of mild Lactose Intolerance.
posted by The Toad at 1:08 AM on August 27, 2008

Data point: I drink a lot of milk (usually cold) and it doesn't make me constipated.
posted by Drexen at 5:11 AM on August 27, 2008

I learned I was lactose intolerant when I had a super giant milkshake at an ice cream place here in chicago, I was bedridden for a week with stomach cramps and constipation. Horrible.
posted by Ponderance at 6:03 AM on August 27, 2008

In this well-regarded book about nutrition and health (based in Chinese Medicine theory), the author claims that eating cold foods can dampen down digestive fires or something like that.

Anecdotally, I'm semi-lactose intolerant, and sometimes I've gotten the same symptoms (nausea) from soy ice cream (but never soy milk) as I do from regular milk, so I do tend to think the temperature matters.
posted by salvia at 6:44 AM on August 27, 2008

I would definitely look into lactose intolerance. If that's the case, there are several over the counter solutions that will enable you to enjoy milk (and other dairy products) without any pesky intestinal issues. IANAD and I do not know if any harm can come from trying to take Lactaid or something similar if you aren't lactose intolerant, but I'm fairly certain that Lactaid (milk for the lactose-intolerant) can be consumed by anyone. You might want to start there and see if you tolerate that better.
posted by katemcd at 7:43 AM on August 27, 2008

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