Milk is something everyone should be drinking in one form or another. Sometimes it's not enough to only eat cheese or rely on other dairy foods. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), if you want to get the full nutritional benefits of dairy, you should be drinking three, 8-ounce glasses of milk per day.
Proteins, calcium and the amino acids are bodies need are plentiful in cows milk. If you have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), you have an even bigger need for the nutritional value of dairy. Your body has to work harder to breathe, so you burn up more energy. You might notice that you or someone else had lost a considerable amount of weight shortly before they were diagnosed with the disease. Your body burns more calories and uses up more nutrients to get the job done.
If you are underweight, your doctor might tell you to drink full fat, vitamin D milk. For most people, however, it's healthier to be drinking 2% milk or skim milk. If someone has high cholesterol or high blood pressure, their doctor will probably tell them to drink nothing higher in fat content than 2%.
One problem you can encounter with cows milk is the production of extra mucus in the throat and lungs. This happens in different degrees for everyone, but for someone with a chronic lung disease, it can cause the issue of too much mucus, and make breathing more difficult.
The main alternative for cows milk is soy milk. It's true that soy milk does lack some of the major nutritional benefits of cows milk, but this might still be preferred over dealing with excess mucus, which can be dangerous for someone with a chronic lung condition. A few other benefits of soy milk over cows milk, are the inclusion of cancer-fight isoflavones, and extra fiber content that cows milk doesn't have. You can also look for soy milk that has been fortified with more of the nutrients that cows milk has.
Something you would be missing out on with the exclusion of cows milk, are the amino acids that are most readily absorbed and used by our bodies. The proteins in soy milk are harder for our bodies to convert into what it needs. To make up for the lack of certain proteins, you will need to eat more fatty fish like mackerel and salmon, shell fish, lean beef, liver and eggs. These things contain high amounts of vitamin B-12, vitamin D and zinc, which are all found in cows milk. Make up for your calcium intake by eating more almonds, flax seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables.
A study published in Respiratory Research concludes that eating soy products and drinking soy milk improves lung function. The flavinoids in soy milk have an anti-inflammatory effect, and doesn't contribute to excess mucus production. For someone who hasn't been diagnosed with COPD, but who still smokes and is trying to quit, drinking soy milk and eating soy products will even help prevent COPD and certain types of lung cancers due to smoking.