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Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in Clean Eating, Health & Nutrition | 1 comment

Milk: Does It Do A Body Good?

“Milk, it does a body good”~ the milk industry.

Milk is an ingrained staple in American culture. It is the symbol of healthy bones.

Although I am actually a tad astounded just how much push back I encounter if I mention to someone I am removing dairy from my diet. If you don’t drink milk, how will you get calcium?

Upon researching milk and its nutritional benefits, it was surprising to learn that perhaps milk isn’t as good as the dairy industry, the food pyramid and conventional nutrition says.

I just started reading T. Colin Campbell’s book, The China Study.

“He who does not know food, how can he understand the disease of man?” ~ Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine

“What we don’t know- what we don’t understand- about nutrition can hurt us”~ T. Colin Campbell

My friend intrigued me to read this by telling me about how she learned that the countries that have the lowest dairy intake (Asia & Africa) have the lowest incidences of osteoporosis/ bone fractures; conversely, the countries with the highest dairy intake (USA & Sweden) have the highest incidences of osteoporosis/ bone fractures. I haven’t gotten to that part in the book yet, but I did do some research on how this could be plausible.

I found this information via Save Our Bones interesting:

I like the point that confusion on calcium and its (perceived) benefits stems from the fact that milk contains calcium, about 300mg per cup.

many scientific studies have shown an assortment of detrimental health effects directly linked to milk consumption. And the most surprising link is that not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones. What an irony this is

Here’s how it happens. Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a biological correction. You see, calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is – you guessed it… in the bones. So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, so that the surprising net result after this is an actual calcium deficit.

Knowing this, you’ll understand why statistics show that countries with the lowest consumption of dairy products also have the lowest fracture incidence in their population

Many scientific studies contradict the conventional wisdom that milk and dairy consumption help reduce osteoporotic fractures. Surprisingly, studies demonstrating that milk and dairy products actually fail to protect bones from fractures outnumber studies that prove otherwise. Even drinking milk from a young age does not protect against future fracture risk but actually increases it. Shattering the “savings account” calcium theory, Cumming and Klineberg report their study findings as follows: “Consumption of dairy products, particularly at age 20 years, was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture in old age. (“Case-Control Study of Risk Factors for Hip Fractures in the Elderly”. American Journal of Epidemiology. Vol. 139, No. 5, 1994).

And the 12 year long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that those who consumed the most calcium from dairy foods broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk. This is a broad study based on 77,761 women aged 34 through 59 years of age. In the authors’ own words:“These data do not support the hypothesis that higher consumption of milk or other food sources of calcium by adult women protects against hip or forearm fractures.” (Source: Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. American Journal of Public Health. 1997).

Hmm, isn’t it interesting that we are told that milk will help support bone health, but there are many studies that refute this… yet, this is not mainstream information.

Update: the more I learn and understand pH, the more I can see how this acidic argument is controversial. pH is a complex topic. And perhaps the whole acid/ alkaline diet is a myth, or isn’t black and white.

Humans are the only mammals to drink another mammals milk.

Did you know that humans were not made to tolerate lactose beyond infancy?

Robert M. Kradjian, MD says:

Milk is a maternal lactating secretion, a short term nutrient for newborns. Nothing more, nothing less. Invariably, the mother of any mammal will provide her milk for a short period of time immediately after birth. When the time comes for ‘weaning’, the young offspring is introduced to the proper food for that species of mammal. A familiar example is that of a puppy. The mother nurses the pup for just a few weeks and then rejects the young animal and teaches it to eat solid food. Nursing is provided by nature only for the very youngest of mammals.

Ideally, it would be breast milk but whether it be breast milk or formula, after infancy, humans lactase enzymes were not necessary for adulthood.

Lactase is a digestive enzyme found in the small intestine. This enzyme breaks down the sugar lactose into its two component sugars: glucose and galactose. Lactose is the principle sugar found in milk and is found in all dairy products.

Ever wonder why in late teens or early 20s you became lactose intolerant? Typically, college age kids are less likely to drink milk and thus, the body is no longer having to break down lactose, so it stops producing lactase enzyme and behold: you are now lactose intolerant. If you look at our Paleo ancestors, they did not drink milk.

Mark Hyman, MD says:

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. Instead, most scientists agree that it’s better for us to get calcium, potassium, protein, and fats from other food sources, like whole plant foods — vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and seaweed.

What’s my beef with milk?

Unless labeled, cows are now being pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones. Conventional milk contains the recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), a genetically engineered hormone manufactured by Monsanto. Some studies have linked rBGH to cancer.

What else is in milk? Pus, blood and antibiotics.

Dr. Krajian

  • Any lactating mammal excretes toxins through her milk. This includes antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals and hormones. Also, all cows’ milk contains blood! The inspectors are simply asked to keep it under certain limits. You may be horrified to learn that the USDA allows milk to contain from one to one and a half million white blood cells per millilitre. (That’s only 1/30 of an ounce). If you don’t already know this, I’m sorry to tell you that another way to describe white cells where they don’t belong would be to call them pus cells. To get to the point, is milk pure or is it a chemical, biological, and bacterial cocktail? Finally, will the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protect you? The United States General Accounting Office (GAO) tells us that the FDA and the individual States are failing to protect the public from drug residues in milk. Authorities test for only 4 of the 82 drugs in dairy cows.
I found this statistic staggering via Mother Jones:
While human antibiotic use has leveled off at below 8 billion pounds annually, livestock farms have been sucking in more and more of the drugs each year—and consumption reached a record nearly 29.9 billion pounds in 2011. To put it another way, the livestock industry is now consuming nearly four-fifths of the antibiotics used in the US, and its appetite for them is growing

Recently, a farmer told me that he does use antibiotics, but only if the animal(s) is sick or in pain. The overall debate is not in such incidences, but rather the overuse and use of antibiotics on otherwise healthy animals.

The concern with all this antibiotic use is drug-resistant bugs. The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) has this FAQs about Antibiotic Resistance and Food

Antibiotic resistance is a food safety problem for several reasons. First, antibiotic resistance is increasing to some antibiotics, such as fluoroquinolones and third-generation cephalosporins. These antibiotics are commonly used to treat serious infections caused by bacterial pathogens frequently found in food, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.

A second reason that antibiotic resistance is a food safety problem is that more people may become ill. Ordinarily, healthy persons who consume a few Salmonella may carry them for a few weeks without having any symptoms, because those few Salmonella are held in check by the normal bacteria in their intestines. However, even a few antibiotic-resistant Salmonella in food can cause illness if the person who consumes the contaminated food then takes an antibiotic for another reason. The antibiotic can kill normal bacteria in the gut, letting a few Salmonella that ordinarily would be unlikely to cause illness, take over and cause illness.

A third possible reason that antibiotic resistance is a food safety problem is that the food supply may be a source of antibiotic-resistant genes. Harmless bacteria present in food-producing animals could be resistant, and humans could acquire these bacteria when they eat meat products from these animals. Once ingested, resistant genes from these bacteria could be transferred to bacteria that cause disease. Quantifying the extent to which this contributes to a food safety problem is difficult.

Antibiotics are used in food-producing animals for three major reasons. First, antibiotics are used to treat sick animals. Second, antibiotics are used in the absence of disease to prevent diseases during times when animals may be susceptible to infections. This use affects a larger number of animals, because it usually involves treating a whole herd or flock, which increases the likelihood of selecting for organisms that are resistant to the antibiotic. In these two examples, high doses of antibiotics are used for short periods of time. Third, antibiotics are commonly given in the feed at low doses for long periods to promote the growth of cattle, poultry, and swine. In the 1950s studies showed that animals given low doses of antibiotics gained more weight for a given amount of feed than untreated animals. Exactly how this occurs is unknown. This effect appears to be less effective or absent in animal production settings with good sanitation.

Recently, health officials are looking more into MRSA and its antibiotic resistant bug.

Read full article for more information.
  • MRSA is an acronym for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a strain of common bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. Methicillin, an antibiotic of the penicillin class, was formerly used to treat staph infections but is now only used in laboratories to identify antibiotic-resistant strains of staph infection
  • MRSA infections are greatly on the increase, and this has health officials worried. A large outbreak of MRSA has the potential to turn into a pandemic, infecting and killing huge numbers of people

Food Safety News reported on a recent development that confirms livestock-to-human MRSA transmission. Read full article here.

Those advocating for limiting antibiotics in agriculture say the study is another sign that antibiotic-resistance is a growing health problem and the widespread use of antibiotics in food animal production is a major contributing factor.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who also happens to be a microbiologist, responded to the study this week by sending a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration urging swift action.

“This study adds to the extensive scientific research supporting the connection between the overuse of antibiotics – 80% of which are used on otherwise healthy animals in the United States – and the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria,” said Slaughter, in the letter addressed to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “Evidence that resistant bacteria transfer from animals to humans should be a clear call for significant, meaningful action to protect one of the greatest advancements in medical history – the development of antibiotics.”

“This study ends any debate,” said Slaughter in a statement Wednesday. “The extreme overuse of antibiotics in livestock is endangering human health.”

It makes sense to also mention, that because livestock are given so much antibiotics, you may want to consider- if and when you eat animal proteins, you buy organic meat.

So, conventional milk contains: growth hormones, antibiotics- which can make you resistant to them if you ever actually need them to work, blood and pus and other ingredients that are not required to be labeled, such as milk powder.

And then there is the debate over skim, 2% or whole milk and the industry’s desire to add artificial sweeteners to milk.

I have been drinking Organic, skim milk for years. As a child, I hated the taste of milk but as I got older, as conventional nutrition has taught me, I thought- I better drink more milk for my bones. But, I was surprised to learn that while I thought skim milk was the “healthier” choice, skim milk in fact was once referred to as dairy waste by dairy farmers.

Studies have actually shown that skim milk doesn’t make you slimmer.

CBS reported whole milk may be better for kids than skim:

In a viewpoint published on July 1 in JAMA Pediatrics, Dr. David S. Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Walter C. Willet, Fredrick John Stare professor of epidemiology and nutrition chair at the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass., questioned why low-fat milk was given the OK over the whole milk option.

The authors point out that there are only a few clinical trials that have looked at the benefits of reduced-fat milk compared to whole milk. Most people just assume the lower-fat milk has fewer calories, which theoretically decreases total caloric intake and lessens weight gain.

“We just don’t see any benefit for focusing on reducing fat,” Ludwig said. “We think it’s a holdover from a paradigm that evolved in the late 20th century based on the relatively simplistic idea that fat has the most calories per gram and that eliminating fat will reduce weight gain.”

Another study in the Archives of Disease in Childhood in March echoed the JAMA study and showed that children who drank lower-fat milk were more likely to be overweight later in life.

“Our original hypothesis was that children who drank high-fat milk, either whole milk or 2 percent would be heavier because they were consuming more saturated fat calories,” author Dr. Mark Daniel DeBoer, an associate professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the chair-elect for the AAP Committee on Nutrition, explained to TIME. “We were really surprised when we looked at the data and it was very clear that within every ethnicity and every socioeconomic strata, that it was actually the opposite, that children who drank skim milk and 1 percent were heavier than those who drank 2 percent and whole.”

Dr. Oz says: Surprisingly, skim milk is also more fattening than regular milk. It becomes a sugar drink when you take the fat out of it. Try using 2% milk and you will lose weight.

Currently, the Dairy Industry has a petition to FDA to be able to remove their “reduced-fat” label on the front of label and also add artificial sweeteners to flavored milk.  It would be listed in the ingredient list, but how many kids (let alone adults) actually read labels? Not many. To me, this is just a way to fool parents and kids; where profit is more important than health.

Chicago Tribune reported:

In the face of troubling childhood obesity rates and what it sees as low milk consumption rates, the dairy industry says it has a solution: Offer kids flavored milk that uses low-calorie artificial sweeteners.

The only problem, industry representatives say, is that current federal rules on such products require prominent “reduced calorie” labeling on the front of the package, which is “not attractive to children” and contributes to an “overall decline in milk consumption.”

Interesting choice of words by dairy industry… labeling is a problem for them. If their product is so great, why hide it?

As someone who subscribes to clean eating, I have witnessed that most people read labels for calorie, fat and carbohydrate content… Ingredients and sugar content is too often overlooked; perhaps because manufactures know that is how consumers read labels, they want to cash in on such misguided ways.

Which way does milk want to be seen? Healthy? Wholesome or likened to most juices on market that entice kids and adults alike to thinking sugar substitutes are the answer to better health? In theory- IF people stopped drinking skim milk, the once dairy waste-now turned profit, would once again be waste. By adding sugar substitutes to milk, it can fattened their wallets, all the while claiming to be helping with obesity problem.

Hopefully after reading all this, you have at least walked away with more knowledge about a staple in most American homes.

And not ready to buy into the whole- humans weren’t supposed to ingest dairy after infancy? Well, if  you do still have your lactase enzyme and don’t seem to have any dairy intolerances (bloating, acne) and want to continue drinking milk, perhaps you now may want to consider switching to goat’s milk; or switch to 2% (or whole) and definitely organic.


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