MILK: Good or Bad

Dairy is nature’s perfect food — but only if you’re a calf.

If that sounds shocking to you, it’s because very few people are willing to tell the truth about dairy. In fact; criticizing milk is like taking on motherhood or religion. But that’s just what I’m about to do.

From an evolutionary point of view, milk is a strange food for humans. Until 10,000 years ago we didn’t domesticate animals and weren’t able to drink milk (unless some brave hunter-gatherer milked a wild tiger or buffalo!).

If you don’t believe that, consider this: The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase — the enzyme needed to properly metabolize lactose, the sugar in milk — sometime between the ages of two and five. In fact, for most mammals, the normal condition is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize milk after they have been weaned.

Our bodies just weren’t made to digest milk on a regular basis. This it is an interesting thought and you might like to give it some consideration. Another fact is that most milk cows are worn out after only 4 to 6 years, while the natural lifespan of a cow is around 25 years. In order to produce these vast amounts of milk, their genes are manipulated and they are kept in a constant cycle of pregnancy, lactating and milking. And finally, you need to be aware of the environmental impact of cattle farms.

You need to understand that my reference is about “processed” milk, not organic raw milk, which on the contrary has at least a high nutritional value, but you will get it only straight from the farmer or in health food shops.

The milk you can buy in any supermarket is either pasteurized, ultra high temperature processed (UHT), homogenized and/or fortified. The result is a far cry from the original raw milk, but who has ever tasted fresh, unprocessed milk straight from the cow? I was fortunate to grow up with it, and the most delicious thing was to leave the milk outside in a low dish for a day or two. The natural bacteria of the milk fermented into homemade sour milk (yoghurt), leaving all the cream (milk fat) on top. Yummy! Try that with the processed milk….it will turn into a foul smelling disgusting something, won’t it?

Let me explain these different processing methods and how they affect your health.

Pasteurization is a process that uses temperatures below boiling to reduce the bacterial count. The real reason for pasteurization is to make milk less perishable, so it can be easier to distribute and store refrigerated for up to 7 or 10 days or more. The arguable claim is that pasteurization makes milk safer, because it will kill most of possibly harmful bacteria. I certainly agree that pasteurization kills bacteria, but I also would never buy milk produced by a conventional dairy farm, because, along with an inferior milk quality, the risk of contamination with pathogenic bacteria is much higher due to the ways the cows are treated. Did you know that milk’s available calcium is cut in half through the process of pasteurization! And if you think the low-fat milk is healthier, you’re wrong again. It makes calcium unabsorbable because fat is an essential part of the transportation and absorption of calcium.

Milk is a living product because of the good bacteria! Unfortunately, pasteurization will not only kill the bad bacteria, but the good ones too. During this process the membranes of the bacteria cells are broken open and releasing so called cytotoxins. These substances are foreign to our body and we therefore can react to to them with immune responses like asthma attacks and mucus production, as well as tearing eyes or inflammation. Let me say it again: pasteurization will not remove the dead bacteria, nor will it remove the cytotoxins.

UHT, or ultra-high temperature treatment, takes this process a step further. It is a partial sterilization by heating milk for a short time at a temperature exceeding 135°C (275°F) and results in an extended shelf-life of 6 to 9 months, no refrigeration required! This alters also the characteristic taste of milk. Needless to say, this product has not much in common with milk.

Homogenization: The milk industry says it is done to prevent the natural separation of cream from the rest of the emulsion. What’s wrong with that, you can ask me? You would only need to shake the bottle/ sachet, right! That’s where the real answer is? Homogenization is done to take all the (butter) fat out of the milk to make money out of butter and then add milk powder to the stripped milk for the better taste and in accordance to the fat content that’s stated on the label!

Homogenization breaks up the fat globules into smaller sizes so that they no longer float on top, but are rather evenly suspended in the milk. This is accomplished by forcing the milk at high pressure through small orifices, that unfortunately will also destroy the butterfat structure and releases enzymes that are not supposed to be in the milk. Not only can they cause problems in your intestines, but also heart diseases are related to homogenized milk. Epidemiological researchers (who are the ones that study the origin and spread of diseases) have also found correlations between breast/prostate cancer and milk consumption. Milk can cause acne, increase childhood diabetes and, you may have never heard about this, the risk of bone fractures!! Let me also remind you that milk from conventional dairy farms is contaminated with pesticides and genetically engineered growth hormone.

Are you having any more doubts about milk being hazardous to your health? If not, then we can start talking about milk and calcium. Indeed, most scientists agree that it’s better for us to get calcium, potassium, protein, and fats from other food sources:

Sesame seeds, Seaweed, Leeks, Flax seeds, Almonds, Mustard Spinach 210 mg,  Dandelion Greens, Turnip Greens, Raw Garlic,  Brazil Nuts, Dried Figs,  Anchovy, Okra, Olives, Cuttlefish, sheep,  goat,  Sardines etc..

Another advantage of a plant based diet is also that you will get enough of magnesium, one more essential mineral that is needed to absorb calcium.

So here is my advice for dealing with dairy.

Tips for Dealing with Dairy

• Don’t rely on dairy for healthy bones. If you want healthy bones, get plenty of exercise and supplement with vitamin D daily.
• Get your calcium from food. These include dark green leafy vegetables, sesame tahini, sea vegetables, and sardines or salmon with the bones.
• Try giving up all processed dairy. That means eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for two weeks and see if you feel better. You should notice improvements with your sinuses, post-nasal drip, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, energy, and weight. Then start eating dairy again and see how you feel. If you feel worse, you should try to give it up for life.
• If you can tolerate dairy, use only raw, organic dairy products. I suggest focusing on fermented products like unsweetened yogurt and kefir, occasionally.
• If you have to feed your child formula from milk, don’t worry. The milk in infant formula is hydrolyzed or broken down and easier to digest (although it can still cause allergies). Once your child is a year old, switch him or her to real food and almond milk.

Still got milk? I hope not! Remember, dairy is not crucial for good health. I encourage you to go dairy-free and see what it does for you.

Now I’d like to hear from you …Do you agree or disagree that dairy is bad for you?

Have you experienced any problems consuming dairy?

What changes — for better or worse — have you experienced if you’ve tried eliminating dairy?

Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below…

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To your good health,