Humans are the only species on the planet who continue to drink milk beyond infancy and into adulthood. We are also the only species that consumes milk from another animal.
All other species instinctively know when to stop taking milk from their mother. The sole purpose of mothers milk is to make a new born grow bigger, faster. It is packed with hormones and antibodies to enable this to happen. The only time any species should be taking milk is just after birth and for a short period of time.
The truth is most people are intolerant to milk beyond infancy. The sugar that is dominant in milk – lactose – is very difficult for humans to digest. 75% of the worlds population is unable to breakdown lactose as adults. But even knowing this stark fact – we persist in pouring it into our lactose intolerant bodies.
Somewhere along the way Humans decided it was a good idea to replace mothers milk with the milk of other animals and then to continue drinking it throughout their life. The question is – was this a good idea? Lets take a look at why dairy is bad for you.
Why Dairy is Bad For You
We have been led to believe by the milk industry and their advertisements that cow’s milk is in fact good for us – highly nutritious. In the past dairy advertising has claimed that milk can enhance athletic prowess, aid weight loss, reduce symptoms of PMS and ward off bone fractures. We’ve all seen the ads with the celebrities boasting a “milk moustache” in the “Got Milk” campaign haven’t we? This was a 20 year campaign to make milk look “cool” and re-brand it away from a dietary staple into a “cool must have”.
Milk has often been portrayed as a panacea. The global brain washing campaign that milk provides an abundance of Calcium that greatly contributes to bone health and wards off osteoporosis has been found to be a great untruth.
Do We Need More Calcium to Prevent Osteoporosis?
The Cornell-Oxford-China Nutrition project commonly know as “the China Study”, conducted in mainland China and Taiwan, is a massive survey of over 10,000 families designed to study diet, lifestyle, and disease across the far reaches of rural China. By investigating simultaneously more diseases and more dietary characteristics than any other study to date, the project has generated the most comprehensive database in the world on the multiple causes of disease.
Amongst other things the study revealed that the Chinese, who consume very little if any dairy and very low levels of calcium in general are far less likely to suffer from osteoporosis than their counterparts in the West. In fact only about one fifth fall prey to the debilitating hip fractures that commonly plague Westerners. So why is this?
Is it due to some other factors? Exercise? Lifestyle? A lower intake of protein? High protein levels can lead to calcium being lost through the urine – more calcium may be lost in fact than is consumed. Westerners have a much higher protein intake when compared with the Chinese, in particular animal and dairy protein. As calcium is needed for multiple functions around the body like muscle and nerve repair, if there is not enough available then the body will begin to pull calcium out of our natural reserves – the bones known as “bone leaching”. This makes them increasingly more fragile.
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains this apparent paradox by noting, “that the adverse effect of protein, in particular animal protein, might outweigh the positive effect of calcium intake on calcium balance”.
So, it may not be a case of consuming more calcium to strengthen the bones but more about consuming less protein – especially animal protein. Milk has high levels of calcium and protein – so it would seem one is offsetting the benefits of the other. Our focus for bone health should be on sources that provide high levels of calcium without the deleterious effect of high protein. Such sources can be found in plant based nutrition such as leafy greens, nuts and pulses.
Dairy and Cancer
Can consuming dairy products contribute to cancer?
There are studies that point towards this being the case. A study in the International Journal of Cancer by S.C Larson et al investigated the proposal that consumption or metabolism of dairy sugar may increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Their findings concluded that “results of this meta-analysis provide some support for the hypothesis that high intakes of milk and lactose may be associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.”
It is suggested that four or more servings of dairy products per day can make it twice as likely that a woman can develop ovarian cancer.
It has also been suggested in numerous studies that diets high in calcium and dairy protein can increase the risk of prostate cancer. One of the first studies to highlight this link was in the 1980s when 27,000 seventh day Adventists completed a health and dietary questionnaire 20 years earlier and the results concluded that milk consumption was positively associated with prostate cancer.
In 1997, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded that dairy products should be considered a possible contributor to prostate cancer. And yet another research study came out in April 2000 pointing to a link between dairy and prostate cancer: Harvard’s Physicians’ Health Study followed 20,885 men for 11 years, finding that having two and one-half dairy servings each day boosted prostate cancer risk by 34 percent, compared to having less than one-half serving daily.
It appears the answer to the question can dairy cause cancer is a yes, it is a possibility.
The Effects of Dairy Consumption
An interesting article by Amy Joy Lanou, entitled “Should dairy be recommended as part of a healthy vegetarian diet?” highlights numerous studies that have been conducted into the effects of dairy on human health concluding
“Vegetarians will most likely have healthier outcomes for a host of chronic diseases by limiting or avoiding milk and other dairy products.”
If milk is not contributing to strengthening our bones and is a likely contributor to some forms of cancer then why are we still drinking it on a daily basis? Is there anything else we should know about the White stuff? I’m afraid there is..
- Cows are pumped with antibiotics which in turn leads to antibiotic resistant bacteria in humans which reduces the effectiveness of antibiotics we take for illnesses
- Dairy products contribute to the overall fat, saturated fat, calorie, and cholesterol content of the diet, they contribute to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes
- Cows are fed sex hormones to keep them lactating so we in turn consume high levels of oestrogen and progesterone which upsets our normal hormonal balance and can lead to issues such as “man boobs” in the male population
- Milk contains recombinant bovine growth hormone (RBGH) which is used to make the cows grow bigger, faster and produce more milk. Which in turn can play havoc with our own hormonal balance.
- Dairy protein has been shown to increase IGF-1 (Insulin like growth factor 1) High levels of which have been implicated in several cancers. (Supporting article)
- Populations that consume more dairy have higher rates of multiple sclerosis (supporting article)
- Increased chance of acne , constipation and ear infections.
- Animal cruelty. Cows and chickens are kept in very confined spaces and have a joyless often painful and short existence
Whats the Alternative?
It is estimated there are over 60 hormones in an average glass of inorganic milk. Only calves are meant to drink this hormonal cocktail, humans are not.
We have been brain washed by the advertising campaigns of the dairy industry to believe that cows milk is good for us, it isn’t.
Cows milk contains high levels of protein as well as calcium that results in “bone leaching”. Whereas plants like broccoli and collard greens provide high levels of calcium without the negative effects of high protein. Plants also contain Boron a mineral that helps keep calcium in the bones. Milk contains virtually none.
Calcium from animal milk is not absorbed by humans as well as that from plant based sources. There are many alternatives to cows milk, all readily available. To name a few:- Almond, hazelnut, hemp, oat, rice, soya and coconut milk. So there is no need to go without in your favourite tipple of the day.
Other rich sources of calcium include:- chai seeds, almonds, kale, sesame seeds, black beans, tofu, figs, soy beans, brocolli, red kidney beans to name a few.
There is a plant based alternative for every animal based form of nutrition. The plant alternative is ALWAYS the better option. The plant based option never has an associated negative effect. Plant nutrition is the best choice you can make. Our planet was meant to provide us with all that we need to survive and it does – plants. They provide the oxygen we need to breathe, the medicine we need to cure our ills, the food we need to survive. Let’s stop interfering with what nature intended.
Make difference, make the change, go veggie.