My .02 on Dairy

As you all know, I have really been digging all sorts of health/nutrition topics. One that I had come across a long time ago was the many different view points/thoughts on the consumption of dairy products.

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My first thoughts were “Dairy? That is weird. I thought dairy ‘does the body good.’ I thought dairy gives me strong bones. Why would you NOT drink/eat dairy?” That was how I was raised.  Milk in your cereal, a carton of milk for lunch at school, and a big glass with dinner.

Then, the more I read…the more I thought…..the more I thought…the more I read.

And eventually….The more I thought and read…. the less dairy I consumed.

I have been working on this post for some time. It is a sensitive topic as many people love snuggling up to a cold glass of milk. If that is you, continue to read on with no offense as I am just sharing thoughts or stop reading here. 🙂

Humans have done an excellent job of mass-producing and packaging milk to make it easily and readily available to consumers…advertising companies have spent millions of dollars telling and showing everyone how milk “does a body good.”  They have convinced every person that they need to go out and wear a “milk mustache.”

Not only have they convinced people that milk is necessary throughout our adult life, the food industries (perhaps with some dairy industry influence???) have created foods that are absolutely HEAVENLY when consumed with milk.

cereal cookie oreo

Yes…an Oreo dunked in almond milk just isn’t the same. I agree.

Ice cream is one of my favorite foods on the planet.  I will never ever (like ever ;)) give it up completely.

Cheese? Don’t get me started. I could eat a pound of cheese in one sitting…

The point of this post is not to say “don’t eat this, don’t eat that.” The point of this post, as with this blog, is to help consumers become aware, and make decisions based on their awareness. Knowledge is power- It’s your life, it is all up to you.

So here goes it….some of my thoughts (and other’s) on dairy.

1. We are the only mammal that consumes another mammal’s milk after being weaned.

I one-trillion percent agree that breast milk is SO beneficial for us as infants. It is nature’s perfect food to help us grow, receive antibodies, and get all the vitamins/nutrients we need before we can eat food. With all that said, a human’s breast milk is designed to grow a human.

A cow’s milk is custom designed to grow a calve. Did you know a calve weighs between 70-100 lbs (depending on the breed) when they are born? ouch 😉  The n, the calve will be weaned off of its mother between 3-8 months and will quickly get to 500-800 lbs.

This goes to show you a cow’s milk is designed to help the cow gain weight fast. Makes sense.

We all know whole milk is ridiculously fattening.  So, drink skim milk….right?

Well, since we are on that topic…..The more I researched skim milk, the less I wanted to drink. I read about the processes of pasteurization and homogenization.

What is pasteurization? Heating milk to kill off all bacteria, puss (ew!!), dirt, poop (ew again!!), and anything else that may have worked their way in.  It heats milk so much that it changes its physical nature. The milk is stripped of many important vitamins, minerals, and essential enzymes. It also makes the milk more acidic. Which will be important for later.

What is homogenization? Milk is a combination of fat, protein, water, and lactose (milk sugar).   This process pushes milk through small holes at a very high pressure which disrupts the fat molecules in chemical ways to keep it from separating (i.e. keeps the milk consistent in color, texture, and taste).

These process both chemically alter the milk so much that…in my opinion… it could be compared to raw sugar versus processed white sugar which is stripped of any sort of nutritional value.

So begins the raw milk debate. Another story, another day….but a quick blurb here….If you are drinking dairy, I am VERY supportive of raw milk only WHEN obtained from a LOCAL, small farm that you have visited and ensured is clean and safe.

Which brings me to another point of debate…the legality of selling raw milk. Did you know in some states it is illegal? Sure… they say it is for the safety of “human health,” but surely they could put into place the same sort of state regulations they have for regular, industrialized dairy farms.

But then that may put the big dairy companies out of business….hmmmm. Again, another story, another day.

Not a fan of raw milk? 2% or whole milk are better as they SHOULD contain some of the natural, intact, fats in milk and are SLIGHTLY less processed.

Don’t be scared of the fat….the whole fat thing is ANOTHER topic for another day. Good, natural fat is NOT bad for you in certain quantities. Extremely low-no-fat diets ARE bad for you!

Once again, another day….So much to write about, so little time.

So, back to the original thought…. what happens when a cow is weaned?

It never drinks milk again. This same principle applies to every other mammal on the planet. No other mammals continue to drink milk throughout their lifetime, yet still  maintain good, healthy bones.

Think about the beautiful strength of horses…these amazing animals can work hard, run all day, and display brilliant muscles, connected to their strong bones. Again, without a drop of milk after they are weaned.

2. This brings me to bone health. 

Scientists and doctors aren’t quite sure anymore if high amounts of supplemented or dairy calcium really IS essential for bone health. It may even be hurting your bone health.

Scientists believe that milk may actually be harming the body by the way in which it is processed.  They also say it may be changing the hormone in ways in which increases hormone-related cancers. The acidic level of milk may also be pulling out calcium from our bones.

Current studies are also saying that milk does not keep one from getting osteoporosis or arthritis….and it may even be causing it.

Did you know there are studies that show that countries who have the lowest percentage of fracture rates, also consume the least amount of dairy?

(The following data is from this website.)

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).

“The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.”

-Amy Lanou Ph.D., nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Some scientists are saying that our body wants to neutralize the acid found in pasteurized milk, so it releases an acid neutralizer found in the bones.

Is calcium the only thing responsible for bone health?  Most certainly not, also important are the following: regular exercise, especially muscle-bearing, such as weight-lifting; Vitamin D, K, and A;  proper amounts of protein, limited amounts of cola and caffeine (high acidity…4+ cups a day have shown calcium excretion in urine).

Studies have shown that the amount of Vitamin D (primarily produced in your body from sunlight), helps with Calcium absorption. Get outside for 15-30 minutes a day!!

How much Calcium should I aim for each day? Recent studies have shown that higher amounts of Calcium does not necessarily decrease your risk of osteoporosis. However, right now they say the following:

  • 1,000 milligrams/day for those age 19 to 50
  • 1,200 milligrams/day for those age 50 or over
  • 1,000 milligrams/day for pregnant or lactating adult women

Where should I get my calcium? I always vouch for food sources first. If these sources are unavailable, supplements may be necessary. Dark leafy greens, beans, and dairy are foods that contain high amounts of Calcium.

Here is a great list of foods and their calcium amounts.

Food Amount Calcium (milligrams)
Yogurt, plain, low fat 8 oz 415
Collards, frozen, boiled 1 cup 357
Skim milk 1 cup 306
Yogurt, plain, whole milk 8 oz 275
Black-eyed peas, boiled 1 cup 211
Canned salmon 3 oz 181
Calcium-set tofu 3 oz (¼ block)  163
Cheese food, pasteurized American 1 oz 162
Trail mix (nuts, seeds, chocolate chips) 1 cup 159
Baked beans, canned 1 cup 154
Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat 1 cup 138
Iceberg lettuce 1 head   97
Green peas, boiled 1 cup   94
Soy milk  1 cup  93
Oranges 1 cup   72
Almonds 1 oz (24 nuts)   70

3. Do you know milk can contain antibiotics and hormones? 

Cows are given rBGH/rBST (a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone) that is used to increase a cow’s milk production by stopping mammary cell death. I don’t know how much I enjoy the thought of anything man-made that stops the “natural death” of a cell.

Human health aside, this hormone was researched extensively and was shown to increase mastitis and lameness and decrease fertility in the cows. Because of these findings, this hormone is currently banned by the Europe Union, Canada, Israel, Australia, and Japan.

While the basic “milk” properties almost remain the same between rBST free cows and those treated with rBST, there have been studies done that have linked the milk with rBST to have an increased amount in IGF-1 (insulin growth factor). Cow IGF and human IGF is nearly identical. Numerous studies have been done on IGF and it’s relations to cancer.

As cancer is  defined as “uncontrolled cell growth,” I do not want to consume anything that will encourage my cells to grow more than my body is telling them to.  IGF is already an establish correlation between high amounts of IGF in humans and cancer.

Some scientists argue that both rBST and IGF are usually destroyed in the digestive system upon consumption by humans.

What is IGF? A hormone that increases growth and milk production. which has been linked to cancer.

If you are still drinking dairy milk, this reason alone is enough to encourage the purchase of organic milk, butter, dairy, etc. Certified organic products should be without rBGH or rBST.

4. Less acne

I have always had oily skin. The result of oily skin is clogged pores, which can result in pimples/acne.

During my health/nutrition readings, I researched some as to whether or not the food you eat affects your skin. I think everyone is different, so a blanket statement such as “XYZ food does not cause acne”  or vice versa can be misinterpreted and untrue. Some people are more affected by food (such as dairy) than others.

I am one of those people that recognizes that dairy affects my acne. After I went on a dairy hiatus for 30 days, I had clearer skin than ever before! I was ecstatic to find a more natural cure for acne than all of the lotions/creams/pills.

Why does dairy have a result on your skin?

Doctors and dermatologists believe it increases the IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor) hormone. The IGF-1 is secreted by the liver as a growth hormone- it has been shown to affect cell growth and cell death, which of course, some scientists believe can also be related to increase in cancer rates.

In reference to acne, scientists believe that it also promotes androgen receptors. What are androgen receptors? They do a lot…but in reference to this post, they can interact with different hormones (estrogen/testosterone).

“One study published in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, looked at the diets of teenage boys and found that the young men who drank the most milk also tended to have the worst acne….Of all dairy products, milk was the worst offender. Chocolate milk, cottage cheese, and sherbet also had a negative effect on the skin. But other dairy products didn’t seem to cause breakouts (acne.about.com).” If interested, read more here.

This is a fascinating topic to me and I can’t wait to read more about it.

5. Less sinus drainage

I’ve had sinus drainage from as far back as I can remember.  After reading several articles, I saw that many people said they feel as if their mucus or drainage becomes worse after the consumption of milk or dairy products. Some believe this is an allergy of sorts. So, after reading that, I decided to try it out. Another success. The elimination of milk really decreased my sinus drainage!

Scientists are still debating how or IF milk is the culprit of the drainage.  I love science and research and am the first to admit there are so many other factors in every day life to specify the reason was dairy for sure. I do know though that when I removed milk from my diet, my sinus drainage stopped almost completely. Hopefully there will be more research to come….

Conclusion…

I do realize that dairy does have some added benefits to our lives. ..especially the probiotics in yogurt (another story!).

Unfortunately, with everything in America today, I believe the benefits in all foods are found BEFORE big businesses get a hold of a product and turn every beneficial chemical within the food into a processed slop.

So what should you do?

Do as you please! Ignore everything and keep on keeping on! Give up a dairy product or 2 for a few days (or weeks!) and see how you feel.

I did a 30 day dairy hiatus and felt amazing. However, for me, a life devoid of cheese and ice cream seems unfathomable.  But I did give up drinking milk  (until we have our own dairy cow in our back yard) as I have felt and seen a HUGE difference in how I feel and look without it.

And I also ALWAYS choose organic , rBGH and rBST free, and certified humane dairy products.  It is most definitely worth the extra money to me, and I know the cows are saying the same. 🙂

cheers and happy evolving!

2 thoughts on “My .02 on Dairy

  1. Loved this! Thanks for doing all the hard work and research & breaking it down into layman’s terms. I think I’m going to try to start drinking almond milk. Or at least get off of skim milk. Who knew? Awesome.

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