Most people believe that milk is a healthy food choice, but is this a marketing myth perpetuated by the dairy industry? There is a reason that a large number of people are lactose intolerant. The human body is not designed to digest lactose after weaning. Cow’s milk contains lactose, therefore many people cannot digest cow’s milk properly.
The dairy industry sponsors ‘research’ to convince the public that cows milk products are essential to a healthy diet. Much of this so-called research is far from scientific as it lacks objectivity and is designed primarily to perpetuate the myth. It is a form of marketing under the guise of scientific information and has been very successful at convincing people that drinking the milk of a large bovine animal is normal and healthy.
Milk Is Not Good For Your Bones
Drinking milk actually accelerates bone loss because the consumption of animal protein acidifies the body. To bring the pH back to normal, calcium is leached from the bones, neutralizing the acid 1. How much calcium you get in your diet is less important than the amount of calcium you can prevent from leaving your bones; this is the important factor in bone health 2.
Epidemiological studies show consistently that countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis (such as Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K.) are the countries with the highest level of milk consumption. Places where dairy products are consumed infrequently or not at all (such as Africa, China and Japan) have low rates of osteoporosis 3.
Consuming large amounts of calcium from dairy products will actually increase your risk of hip fractures, while no increased risk of fractures is observed if you get the same level of calcium from non-dairy sources 4 and 5.
Milk Is Unhealthy For Children
The dairy industry continues to push cow’s milk on children despite very strong evidence that dairy products are contributing to childhood illnesses, including type-1 diabetes. Dr Colin Campell, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University and director of the largest epidemiological study in history (see The China Study) states that:
“The depth and breadth of evidence now implicating cow’s milk as the cause of type-1 diabetes is overwhelming, even though the very complex details are not fully understood.”
Insulin-dependent diabetes (type-1 or childhood-onset diabetes) has been linked to dairy products since the late 1980’s 6 and drinking cow’s milk is well known to weaken the immune function in children, and can lead to problems with recurring infections 7.
A young age at introduction of dairy products and high milk consumption during childhood may increase the child’s risk of developing juvenile diabetes 8.
The milk protein – casein– is poorly digested, only breaking down into small chunks. These chunks get translocated into the blood where the body responds with an immune response as it recognises a foreign object. Since cow’s casein has an amino acid sequence similar to the amino acid sequence on the beta cells of the pancreas, the body produces antibodies which not only destroy the foreign cow’s casein cells, but can also attack your own pancreas, destroying your insulin producing cells.
Children who are raised on cow’s milk also have a lower IQ than children who are raised on mother’s milk 9. Human milk has the lowest level of casein per whey of any mammal and is geared towards brain development. Cow’s milk, in contrast, has a high level of casein per whey and is geared towards muscle development. Furthermore, consider the following quotes from the leading Paediatric journals:
“We should strive to use foods . . . that meet the nutrient needs of the older infant . . . yet avoid toxicity. Cow milk simply does not meet this standard of quality” 10.
“Babies who are fed whole cow’s milk during the second six months of life may experience a 30% increase in intestinal blood loss and a significant loss of iron in their stools” 11.
Cow’s milk can cause internal bleeding because cow milk protein – casein – is so hard to digest. To compensate, the stomach is made much more acidic than normal, which may cause irritation and bleeding in young intestines. This can also happen to adults.
Milk Is Unhealthy For Adults
Ovarian cancer and female fertility problems have been linked to cow’s milk. When dairy product consumption exceeds the body’s capacity to break down galactose (milk sugar), there is a build-up of galactase (the enzyme used to break down milk sugar) in the blood which affects woman’s ovaries 12. Where per-capita milk consumption is highest, women tend to experience the sharpest age-related falloff in fertility 13.
Adults who consume large quantities of cow’s milk have a greater likelihood of developing senile cataracts 14. Since humans (like all mammals) lose the ability to properly break down milk sugars after they are weaned, galactose molecules get stored in the skin, eyes and cornea, causing cataracts.
Many diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, diphtheria, scarlet fever, Q-fever, and gastroenteritis are transmissible by milk products. 15 Milk is an excellent vehicle of infection because its fat content protects pathogens from gastric acid, and, being fluid, it has a relatively short gastric transit time 16.
There is evidence that Leukemia and Multiple sclerosis may also be linked to cow’s milk consumption 17. Studies linking cow’s milk to other medical illnesses are consistently being reported. Although beyond the scope of this article, associations with milk have been found in the following conditions, as well as those already mentioned:
- Chronic fatigue
- Tension headaches
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Allergies and congestion
- Asthma and respiratory difficulties
- Early atherosclerosis from oxidized cholesterol and coronary artery disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Neuralgic diseases (e.g. Lou Gehrig’s disease)
In conclusion, the great milk myth is perpetuated by pseudoscientific marketing campaigns over many decades. Touted as a health food, milk is precisely the opposite – causing a vast array of illnesses. The only type of animal milk that the human body is well adapted to cope with is that of it’s own species, and even then only up to the period of weaning.
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