Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Milk. It Doesn't Do a Body So Good After All

Most ideas come to me from casual conversations I have with friends about food, eating and health. The subject of this blog is no different. This past weekend I was explaining to friends why I no longer drink cow's milk (although I must confess to still eating small amounts of cheese and yogurt). It sparked quite a debate and I wanted to share a more organized response.

My original reason for not drinking milk was due to the amount of hormones it contains. After reading some information on the internet, I may well be on my way to avoiding all dairy products.

1. Hormones = Cancer= Infected Milk - In 1994 the FDA approved the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), a genetically engineered hormone that increases milk production in cows. Milk from cows treated with rbST contains high levels of insulin-like growth factor -I (IGF-I) and increased levels have been found in the blood of individuals consuming dairy products on a regular basis. Recent studies have shown a strong association between IGF-I concentrations and prostate and breast cancers. Studies have shown a 7 fold increase in the risk of breast cancer in women with the highest IGF-I levels and a four fold increase in prostate cancer in men with the highest levels. Research has also shown that the dairy sugar galactose might be toxic to ovarian cells.

This hormone also affects the health of the cow, engorging the udder with an overproduction of milk. The engorged udder is more susceptible to infection thereby encouraging a use of antibiotic treatments.. The milk from rbST cows are found to have higher traces of these drugs, pus and bacteria, that you then drink. Gross.

2. Milk is not a cure for osteoporosis-Osteoporosis results from calcium loss, not insufficient calcium intake. In fact, milk and other dairy products might weaken bones and promote osteoporosis. It appears that high calcium intake before puberty, and especially in young childhood, may have some slight positive effect on bones, but this diet is not the answer. A balanced intake of all the bone minerals, along with adequate vitamin A, C, and D, is what is truly needed. A balanced intake of minerals cannot occur when the diet emphasizes dairy. Dairy's high calcium content causes relative deficiencies in magnesium and other bone-building minerals, and its high phosphorus and animal protein reduces calcium availability. The animal proteins of meat and dairy products cause calcium loss. The level of calcium needed in the diet depends greatly on the animal protein intake. For many of the high animal protein diets of Americans, it may not be possible to consume enough calcium in the diet to compensate for the amount lost to these high-acid proteins. The best answer to decrease your risk for osteoporosis? A diet low in sodium and animal protein. Increasing other calcium rich foods such as molasses, dark salad greens, kale, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, cucumber, peas, soybeans, squash, most types of beans , kiwi; real maple syrup; brown sugar; and tomatoes. And exercise!

3. Milk and children don't mix-The American Academy of Pediatrics now discourages giving milk to children before their first birthday as it is leading cause of iron deficiency in infants. Milk has also been linked to colic in babies, and breast feeding mothers who drink cows milk have colicky babies. Milk consumption has also been shown to contribute to the development of Type-I diabetes in children. Certain milk proteins resemble molecules on the beta cells of the pancreas that secrete insulin. In some cases, the immune system will make antibodies to the milk protein that mistakenly attack and destroy the beta cells. Finally, milk allergies are quite common in children and cause sinus problems, diarrhea, constipation and fatigue. Milk allergies are also linked to behavior problems in children and to the rise of childhood asthma .

The "Got Milk" campaign may be the most successful in marketing history. The suggestion that milk will make you healthy, beautiful and strong is misleading. It is best to eat a healthful diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and fortified foods including cereals and juice.These nutrient rich foods will help you meet your calcium, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin D requirements easily and without health concerns. Got Broccoli?