We live in a “Milk is Good” culture, where post WW2, milk and milk products are marketed to us as ways to make sure we have strong bones, healthy teeth, can prevent diabetes and can also help make us slim. This wonder product is also essential for the healthy development of our children with many mothers choosing to give children cows milk based formulas instead of breast milk. However milk can cause: asthma, eczema, constipation, rhinitis, diabetes, osteoporosis, crohns disease, IBS, arthritis, heart disease, colon and breast cancer & sudden infant death.
Eight to ten thousand years ago man had moved from his hunter existence and was living increasingly in small stationary communities, where fewer wild animals were available (am man roamed less) and the farming of grains and vegetables was increasing. Milk from domestic animals began to be an important food for humans even into adulthood, as it replaced the ingestion of animal bones as the chief source of calcium. Dr. Ron Schmid on his website www.drrons.com and Natasha Campbell McBride in her book Gut & Psychology Syndrome are an advocates of using raw milk in naturopathic treatment of patients, and they claims that human beings evolved the ability to easily digest raw milk because it gave them an adaptive advantage, making them stronger and more able to reproduce. They also states that many indigenous cultures use milk mostly in a cultured (yoghurt, kefir or cheese) or clabbered form, using bacteria to partially predigest the milk lactose (milk sugar) therefore making it easier to digest. Milk in its raw form, from grass fed free roaming animals contains fat soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals the he claims when ingested in their raw form work together to allow proper absorption of calcium and vitamins by the human body.
During times of poverty throughout the centuries, milk from domestic animals has provided a vital source of nutrition for people when other food sources were scarce. During the world wars trade was severely limited so people were encouraged to live of what they could grow and source locally. Milk and dairy products were vital as they provided vitamins, fats and proteins and were relatively easy source from local farms. However, the popularity of milk has continued to grow post WW2 and now it is estimated that 25% of an average western diet is made up of diary products and the Dairy Industry is one of the largest and politically well connected industries in the world.
Production of Dairy
Some people think that it was never ok for us to drink the milk of another animal. Milk is essentially a product that is secreted by the female body that is filled with specific hormones and nutrients designed to encourage the growth of their young. If people suggested drinking dog milk or pig milk we wouldn’t really relish the idea – we would probably think it is disgusting. But that is due to centuries of acclimatisation to the accepted drinking of cows, goats and sheep’s milk. Human mothers naturally produce milk containing the nutrients we need for babies to grow efficiently. We are (in most cases) naturally born producing the correct concentration of enzymes required to effectively break down human milk to absorb its nutrients. As we grow older the body’s ability to produce these enzymes decreases suggesting we do not naturally need these hormones as we grow into adults.
The second school of thought, is that the milk that is not the true culprit, its really the industry that mass produces it. To keep up with the massive demand on milk and diary products by the western world, cows form a crucial part of the money making chain. Manufacturers want more profit for less investment and cows are no longer permitted to roam around the fields chewing grass and being milked once a day by hand. Giant factories see hundreds of cows milked repeatedly throughout the day. They are kept in unsanitary conditions, force fed unnatural foods and injected with growth hormones to increase milk production.
The milking of cows continues even if they are infected with mastitis or pregnant. Cows with mastitis (a bacterial infection which also causes ulcers on the cows udders) are given antibiotics (which also go into the milk they produce) but still produce pus in their milk excretion. European law states that it is illegal to sell milk with over 400 million pus cells per quart. This gives milk its white colour. Pregnant cows secrete elevated levels of oestrogen and growth hormones essential for the growth of the baby they are carrying. Cows are also injected with a hormone called bovine growth hormone that works in their brain to increase their milk production. The occurrence of growth hormones and oestrogen in milk has been linked to breast cancers.
Pasteurization is the Government recognised process to sterilise milk. Heating the milk may kill some of the bacteria (it also kills some of the nutrients), but it does not take away the hormones. By breaking up the fat cells we provide a buffer protection for the hormone molecules, as the fat envelopes and protect the hormones. They survive the homogenisation process and will now take your body up to 30 minutes to break down instead of a few seconds. This gives the hormone much more time to find a suitable protein receptor to affect – possibly cancer cells in your body!
A by product of the homogenisation process is also xanthine oxidase which destroys a compound in the blood called plasmogen. This results in the loss of protective factors in arterial walls leading to a build up of plaque on arterial walls. Cholesterol (which milk is particularly high in) and fatty deposits then stick to this plaque, narrowing the artery and restricting the flow of blood. This ultimately can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and poor circulation.
Milk and Calcium
We recognise that the human body needs calcium in its diet to maintain a healthy skeletal structure. It has now been proved that you actually need vitamins A, C & D along with magnesium and phosporus to act as co-factors in the metabolism of calcium in order for us to absorb if effectively into our bodies. Many modern day diets are deficient in these vitamins (and although they occur naturally in raw milk they are not present sufficiently in mass produced milk) therefore the absorption of calcium from milk is poor.
People can easily live without diary as a source of calcium. Foods such as sardines, almonds, parsley, watercress, greens and pulses are all much higher sources of calcium than milk. Eastern diets that contain more soya and very little dairy mean that people in those countries do not have the same bone density, cancer and heart disease problems that we do in western society. Most supermarkets now also sell milk alternatives such as soya milk, rice milk and coconut milk. They also increasingly offer goats milk and sheep’s milk, which are easier for the body to digest and do not generally keep the animals in the same poor condition as the cows on the dairy farms.
Milk Allergies and Intolerances
Although many people possess sufficient enzymes to break down milk in their digestive system, milk intolerances are becoming increasingly recognised. Usually people are intolerant to milk as they either do not have the enzymes required to break down the milk proteins of casein, lactalbumin and lactoglobulin or they do not have enough of the enzyme lactase required to break down the milk sugar lactose. Symptoms of milk intolerance can be bloating, wind, griping pain, diarrhoea/constipation/alternating stools, eczema, skin rashes, hay fever, catarrh, sinusitis, rhinitis and nasal or lung weaknesses.
If you are intolerant to milk you will likely be intolerant of all dairy products. It takes 4 lbs of milk in 1 lb of chocolate, 12 lbs of milk to make 1 lb of ice cream, 21 lbs of milk to make 1lb butter, 10lbs milk to make 1lb hard cheese and most surprisingly 8lbs milk to make 1lb of sherbet! Anything with lactose, whey powder, dried milk powder, casein all come from milk, which ultimately comes from cows. They used to use casein as wall paper glue.