Is Milk Healthy or Not?

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is milk healthy or not

As Americans we’ve been programmed to think that milk is an integral part of our diet, and that without it we won’t get the calcium we need to keep bones strong and our bodies healthy. Not every culture drinks milk, however, and it seems that their bones and bodies are doing just fine.

Is milk really all it’s cracked up to be?

Cow Milk Is Made for Baby Cows

baby cows

We are the only species that drinks the milk of another animal. Think about it. The milk we’ve been told is so beneficial for our bodies is actually produced for the consumption of a calf. While cow milk is excellent for a 100 pound baby cow, it really has no business being in our bodies.

The only milk that is beneficial for humans is breast milk, produced by a human during pregnancy and lactation. This milk is specially designed for us and contains all the nutrients we need until we are ready to move onto solid food. Then we never drink breast milk again. The same thing goes for the baby calf. Once it is old enough to move onto solid foods, it never drinks the milk from its mother again.

Why are we drinking the milk of another animal, milk that was not designed for our bodies? Why do we continue to drink that milk throughout most of our adult life? If milk is so good for us, why aren’t we selling human breast milk in the dairy aisle instead of that designed for a cow?

Not Good for Bones After All?

healthy bones

We’ve been led to believe that milk is the answer when it comes to preventing breaks and fractures and to reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life. But studies across the board show that drinking milk doesn’t prevent breaks later in life. It actually increases them.

A twelve-year Harvard Nurse’s Study demonstrated this fact with 77,761 women aged 34-59. Conclusions showed that those who received most of their calcium from dairy foods broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk and received their calcium from other sources.

In 1994, the American Journal of Epidemiology reported, “consumption of dairy products, particularly at age 20 years, was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture later in life.”

Other research sends the same message. As the nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington DC, Amy Lanou has also reported what she has found concerning the consumption of cow’s milk. She states, “The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.”

The calcium and protein we get from cow’s milk is simply not designed for our bodies and actually puts us at increased risk for poor bone health. There are plenty of plant-based sources of calcium and even supplements that give us what we need in the way we need it.

Then There’s That Lactose Intolerance Thing

pain

While milk does have some things that are good for our body, it’s a huge cause of lactose intolerance in countless individuals. Lactose is a sugar that’s usually digested in the intestinal tract. The thing is, many people can’t digest lactose and end up with some serious digestive issues because of it.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance will become prevalent thirty minutes to two hours after consuming dairy products, and include:

  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • cramps
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • nausea.

Many people that are lactose intolerant will take supplements so they can drink the milk they “need.” The thing is, they don’t really need it at all and would be better off replacing these supplements with other sources of calcium and nutrients they get from milk.

Not To Mention the Allergies and Other Ailments Associated with Milk

allergies

Do you know what one of the most common reported food allergies is? Yep, you guessed it. Dairy.

Even if milk isn’t showing up as an allergy, it’s more than likely showing up as something, you might just not have ever associated it with being caused from milk. Problems reported from drinking milk include:

  • joint pain
  • increased sinus problems
  • increased congestion
  • constipation
  • acid reflux
  • eczema
  • migraine headaches

When milk is removed from the diet, these ailments seem to disappear. It’s not likely that it’s just a coincidence.

The Mass Production of Dairy

cows

That milk you’re getting on the grocery store shelves is definitely not from the local dairy farm. In fact, the local dairy farm is practically non-existent these days, and dairy farming has turned into a multi-billion dollar business.

The milk you’re buying off the shelf is far from healthy, and milking cows are most often given antibiotics and injected with a man-made genetically engineered growth hormone called rGBH. This hormone is given to dairy cows to artificially increase milk production. This hormone also increases the level of insulin growth factor IGF1 in humans’ blood. Higher levels of IGF1 in the human body are directly linked to numerous types of cancers.

Even when drinking organic milk, you’re not out of the dark. While it would be nice to think that milk labeled “organic” comes from cows on a big happy farm where they roam free, this is not the case at all. For example, Horizon, one of the most popular sources of organic dairy, has over 600 dairy farms across the country. That gallon of milk in your fridge more than likely came from many different cows in many different parts of the country. Not exactly the picture of what consumers are led to believe.

The country’s largest dairy producer is the supplier of about forty different brands of milk, three of which are labeled organic.  Most of these farms are merely mass-production sites and can have hundreds, even thousands, of cows. More often than not, these cows are kept in conditions that are less than desirable, to say the least. While dairy cows should live about twenty years, they are usually slaughtered after three or four years and used for hamburger meat.

Rethinking Drinking Dairy

powdered milk mask

Milk, in all its glory, really doesn’t do a body good. While a little milk here and there isn’t necessarily bad for you (and who doesn’t love ice cream now and then), there is absolutely no reason to drink it because you think it’s healthy or you can’t get the amount of calcium your body needs.

There are plenty of milk substitutes to add to your cereal or morning coffee, and definitely other natural sources to give your body what it needs to maintain healthy bones and optimal nutrition levels. Sorry to say, but if you’re a milk lover, it might be time to rethink the dairy you drink.

Note: You can still get your dose of milk in it’s organic raw form (which is okay). The problem is that it is difficult to find it here in the United States.


References:
http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/facts/is-milk-good-for-you.htm
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/got-milk-you-dont-need-it/?_r=0
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/lactose-intolerance/Pages/facts.aspx
http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2007/06/dairy-farming/
http://www.lcanimal.org/index.php/campaigns/other-issues/factory-farming
http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/real-talk-milk/
http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/

Is Milk Healthy or Not?
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