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View Full Version : By what mechanism do dairy products thicken saliva?


KidCharlemagne
05-15-2003, 11:24 AM
It seems that it's not just by contact with saliva but that it thickens saliva through the bloodstream as well. Anyone know how it does this?

KidCharlemagne
05-15-2003, 11:33 AM
Maybe I can answer my own question partly:

Eighty percent of milk protein is casein, the mucous producer. Casein from cow's milk is a foreign protein. When you eat this antigen, your body's immune system manufactures an antibody. The antibody is a histamine.

zen101
05-15-2003, 11:35 AM
I'm betting your body quickly removes the majority of water and passes that along and you are then left with the mucus component of milk.

btw, what do you mean about thickening saliva through the bloodstream? Does everyone have saliva in their blood or just you?

Surreal
05-15-2003, 11:40 AM
I don't think it's from the casein because the same thing happens to your saliva when you drink lemonade.

I asked about this here once before (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=116698&highlight=saliva), but we never really got to the bottom of it.

Qadgop the Mercotan
05-15-2003, 11:41 AM
Dairy does not thicken secretions. If you have a milk allergy to the dairy proteins (like casein), your secretions won't get thicker, you'll just produce more of them. Same way a person with an allergy to pollen produces more secretions when they get exposed to them.

QtM, MD

Fear Itself
05-15-2003, 11:58 AM
I agree with QtM, it is not a given that milk thickens saliva. Personally, I have never experienced this, and I drink lots of milk.

DeVena
05-15-2003, 12:33 PM
I have a milk allergy - and it does SEEM like you have thicker mucous. But it's just phlegm. (Body sees it as an infection, etc). It's just an allergic reaction. Not thicker saliva.

KidCharlemagne
05-15-2003, 12:35 PM
Originally posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
Dairy does not thicken secretions. If you have a milk allergy to the dairy proteins (like casein), your secretions won't get thicker, you'll just produce more of them. Same way a person with an allergy to pollen produces more secretions when they get exposed to them.

QtM, MD

I know that there is a contingency that believes that the milk/mucous thing is a myth but there does seem to be a difference in the viscosity of my mucous a while after I drink milk. Apparently many other people get the the same response. I've seen some sources say that most people are allergic to casein so perhaps that's why. Couldn't there be an increase in the protein content of the saliva (or undigested lactose?) and not merely in the amount of saliva?

To whoever asked about via the bloodstream: Do you really not know what I mean by that? I'm speaking about the various proteins and sugars that end up in the bloodstream as a result of eating dairy and their ultimate effect on saliva.

Blake
05-15-2003, 05:10 PM
Eighty percent of milk protein is casein, the mucous producer. Casein from cow's milk is a foreign protein. When you eat this antigen, your body's immune system manufactures an antibody...

If this is the cause why is it inly cows milk? 100% of egg whites, 80% of spare ribs and 15% of bread are also foreign proteins. yet no one complains of mucous problems with thiose foods.

Dairy does not thicken secretions.

It does. Whether it produces thick secretions or thickens secretions already present, it indisputably thickens secretions. This is true for many people ( as attested in this thread). Watching me try to spit after drinking milk would be prettty gross. And I don't have any milk allergies, not even very slight ones. I've happily drunk 2 litres of milk in a sitting without any effect whatsoever.

Exapno Mapcase
05-15-2003, 09:30 PM
Originally posted by KidCharlemagne
I know that there is a contingency that believes that the milk/mucous thing is a myth but there does seem to be a difference in the viscosity of my mucous a while after I drink milk. Apparently many other people get the the same response. I've seen some sources say that most people are allergic to casein so perhaps that's why. Couldn't there be an increase in the protein content of the saliva (or undigested lactose?) and not merely in the amount of saliva?

To whoever asked about via the bloodstream: Do you really not know what I mean by that? I'm speaking about the various proteins and sugars that end up in the bloodstream as a result of eating dairy and their ultimate effect on saliva.
The "contingency" that believes the milk/mucous thing is a myth is the entire mainstream medical community.

http://www.teachnutrition.org/ie/faqs/nutrition_myths.html#20
Myth: Drinking milk causes mucous?

Fact: Drinking milk and eating milk products does not cause mucous production.


Many people believe that eliminating cows' milk from their diets will alleviate respiratory symptoms associated with a cold. Despite this widespread belief, studies have shown that drinking cows' milk does not stimulate the production of respiratory mucous or obstruct bronchial airflow. Research has shown no statistically significant association between milk intake and mucous production. It seems to be one of those "old-wives-tales" that has persisted.

http://www.danahospitality.ca/DANANutritionTipsNovember2002.html
Myth: Milk causes Mucus.
Reality Check: Studies have shown that drinking cows' milk does not stimulate the production of mucus. People who don't know whether they are drinking milk or a soy beverage reported no difference in their mucous symptoms.
And I for one have no physiological idea whatsoever of what you might be thinking about concerning whatever mysterious processes you think happen in the bloodstream.

KidCharlemagne
05-15-2003, 09:36 PM
Exapno Milk doesn't necessarily need to cause the production of more mucous to make whatever is produced to be different in quality.

PhuQan G Nyus
05-15-2003, 10:01 PM
really milk does not thicken mucus or cause more to be produced. What does happen though is that the milk mixes with the mucus at times and basically adds to the volume even though really overall the mucus is more likely thinner than normal with the milk mixed in it. I think it has something to do with the surface tension of the milk and the mucus.

samclem
05-15-2003, 10:01 PM
While I agree with Qadgop and Exapno, I have to ask:

What is it that causes some people, after drinking milk, to claim that they have increased mucous production? Do they also have increased mucous production after drinking things other than milk?

Exapno Mapcase
05-16-2003, 11:38 AM
Milk can leave a thin film on the tongue, which might get interpreted as phlegm or mucous. But I beleive much of it is psychological. Studies have shown that many of the people who exhibit symptoms of lactose intolerance after drinking milk do not have any decrease in lactase production that would account for it. People "know" that milk-drinking increases mucous. Therefore, any result which might feel like increased mucous (or thickening saliva or whatever) is interpreted that way.

But since these results disappear when they don't know what they are drinking, I don't think that it is from anything actually from milk in the body, as in KidCharlemagne's mysterious particles floating around in the bloodstream.

KidCharlemagne
05-16-2003, 11:53 AM
Originally posted by Exapno Mapcase
I don't think that it is from anything actually from milk in the body, as in KidCharlemagne's mysterious particles floating around in the bloodstream.

What's with the attitude?

bordelond
05-16-2003, 12:39 PM
Originally posted by Exapno Mapcase
Milk can leave a thin film on the tongue, which might get interpreted as phlegm or mucous. But I beleive much of it is psychological.

Yeah, this is a different thing than what Qadgop was talking about. It seems reasonable to me that this milky film can combine with saliva and yield the glorious substance Blake mentions spitting above.

Exapno Mapcase
05-16-2003, 01:02 PM
A small subset of of the one or two percent of the population who have known milk protein allergies do have a reaction that may include increased histamine production. This is, however, primarily a nasal reaction of the mucous membranes rather than an increased production of saliva. I don't know where your unsourced quote came from, but it is not true that casein affects everyone's immune systems.

Milk sugars, BTW, never enter the bloodstream and play no part in any immune system reactions. All intolerance reactions in adults are strictly intestinal.

The vast, overwhelming majority of people who claim to have increased mucous from milk (tellingly, it's usually from milk drinking not from dairy hidden in other foods) are not allergic to the milk proteins (of which there are more than casein). If a histamine-producing immune system reaction does not take place, there is no physiological means for the - very few - stray proteins that might enter the bloodstream to increase or thicken saliva.

Kid, if you want to present a scientific case for what you're saying, I'll be happy to listen.

Surreal
05-16-2003, 01:04 PM
So if you spat into a glass without drinking any milk, and then you added some milk to it, the saliva/milk mixture would magically become more viscous than either ingredient was by itself?

I'll have to do the experiment at home, but I don't think that is what's going on. I think that there is some property in the milk that the body reacts to by increasing the amount of enzymes in the saliva.

KidCharlemagne
05-16-2003, 01:55 PM
Originally posted by Exapno Mapcase

Kid, if you want to present a scientific case for what you're saying, I'll be happy to listen.

Ummmm I'm asking a question, not making a statement. By bloodstream I meant in contrast to direct contact with the saliva from eating/drinking it. I really don't think it's too difficult to infer what I meant and in either case I don't see why your being so smug.

DeVena
05-16-2003, 02:29 PM
Exapno Mapcase, just hang on a second. Just for the record, my milk allergy is not lactose intolerance or a nasal allergy. It does not effect my intestinal system or my nose. At All.

I get headaches - and if I've drunk a lot (say 2 cups in the morning) by afternoon I'm coughing up phlegm. Thick ooky phlegm. The histamine reaction is in the bronchia.

Now, whenever I've seen my allergist about this, he attributes it to my milk allergy. Not once has he said it was a nasal allergy.

Exapno Mapcase
05-16-2003, 04:10 PM
The hamsters ate my post, so I'll try again.

Kid, I am having difficulty trying to infer what you meant because to me everything you say comes across as pseudoscientific gibberish. You wrote, "I'm speaking about the various proteins and sugars that end up in the bloodstream as a result of eating dairy and their ultimate effect on saliva." There is no ultimate effect. Nothing happens.

Certainly seems to me that you've been arguing a case the entire time. If all you've been doing is asking questions, then why are you so upset that my answer is a simple "no"?

DeVena, maybe the phlegm has been dripping down until you cough it up. Maybe some of the lower mucous membranes are being affected. Allergies spark dozens, maybe hundreds, of reactions from the immune system.

But milk protein allergies are fairly rare, and histamine-aided mucous reactions are rare even among those with milk protein allergies. 99+% of the adult population do not get these reactions. Even if a tiny amount of protein (not sugar) gets into their bloodstreams, nothing happens. For those 99+% of the adult population (in the US, although I think percentages are about equal elsewhere) the connection between milk and mucous is a myth.

KidCharlemagne
05-16-2003, 05:52 PM
Originally posted by Exapno Mapcase
The hamsters ate my post, so I'll try again.

Kid, I am having difficulty trying to infer what you meant because to me everything you say comes across as pseudoscientific gibberish. You wrote, "I'm speaking about the various proteins and sugars that end up in the bloodstream as a result of eating dairy and their ultimate effect on saliva." There is no ultimate effect. Nothing happens.

Certainly seems to me that you've been arguing a case the entire time. If all you've been doing is asking questions, then why are you so upset that my answer is a simple "no"?



Jesus your unreal. You do realize I'm the OP right? You do realize I'm asking a question right? I didn't want people to think I was asking about a change in the quality of saliva from the mixing of what was eaten with the saliva that had already been excreted. I didn't need someone explaining that milk is a thick liquid. I was asking about whether the products of digestion (or their inability to be digested) could have an effect on the composition of saliva. The products of digestion go through the bloodstream so I figured that was a decent term to help those interested in answering my question understand exactly what I was asking. Is that pseudoscience? Is it unreasonable to ask if something we eat affects something we excrete??? Even if the answer is no I hardly think it deserves the ridicule implied by "mysterious."

Qadgop the Mercotan
05-16-2003, 09:44 PM
Well, kid, you asked: By what mechanism do dairy products thicken saliva?

My answer, as a practicing physician and past medical scientist:
The mainstream medical community doesn't believe that dairy thickens saliva, despite many anecdotal accounts and web site assertions to the contrary. Controlled, peer-reviewed research has failed to demonstrate any such phenomena.

Now on the net you'll find no shortage of people willing to tell you why they think it does occur, and even their proposed mechanisms behind it. Many will have a string of academic qualifications. Their explanations will range from the quite plausible to the extremely bizarre. But they will still be explaining something which I don't believe we have evidence of actually happening.

I'm still open to looking at evidence to the contrary. The mainstream scientific community has been in error before. Lots of times. I've been wrong even more than that!

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