Milk is often described as “Nature’s Perfect Food”, but is it really?
Doctors highly recommend it. Television tells you it “Does a body
good”, and our own mothers made us drink it with every meal. After all
milk builds strong bones and teeth, it’s natural, it’s loaded with
calcium, and you never outgrow the need for milk. Got Milk? You can
even buy The Milk Mustache Book and glass! The ad for the book says, “Go
behind the scenes at America’s favorite ad campaign”. Aha! That’s what
this whole thing is about - The National Dairy Council’s ad campaign!
Madison Avenue has “milked” a good thing into big bucks and our children
are paying for it.|
We are paying for it in many ways, but the most significant way is with our health. Drinking milk and eating dairy products put us at risk for so many problems, it is almost overwhelming and the list is growing steadily almost by the day. I know what you’re thinking- How could milk be dangerous? Everybody drinks it and I grew up on it and nothing has happened to me. But things are happening to you. Have you looked at the increase in childhood cancer and juvenile diabetes rates? Almost fifty percent of American children have allergies. How many suffer from recurrent ear infections, sinusitis, and are overweight? Why are we the only species on the earth to continue consuming milk past the age of weaning? Clearly it’s not as nature intended.
BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE
Luckily word has gotten out concerning recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). Lacking clear scientific support regarding its safety, consumers have been concerned since the FDA approved rBGH in 1993. Injected into dairy cows to increase milk yield, this hormone has been cited as questionable for human consumption and dangerous to cows.
RBGH contains a hormone humans and cows naturally produce called Igf-1 (insulin-like growth factor). IGF-1 is a normal constituent of mother’s milk and an exact match is found in cow’s milk. How could this be harmful to humans then?
IGF-1 causes cells to divide and grow. After all, the purpose of cow’s milk is to grow huge, fat calves quickly. If milk consumption continues past the age of weaning we are unnaturally prolonging our intake of this hormone. The body can not destroy the extra amount of hormones and the colon absorbs it. Nature did not intend this excessive intake of hormones and the harmful results have been well documented. A recent article cited over 17 studies which concluded that rBGH milk might be carcinogenic. Perhaps milk consumption is linked to our weight problems as well?
Bovine Growth Hormone, manufactured by Monsanto and used since 1994, is purported to increase milk production in a cow from 5 to 15 percent. This drug puts a huge amount of stress on a cow causing many of them to develop mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder. This turns her milk rancid and sour with the consistency “like snot”, as one farmer was quoted as saying. Farmers then treat this side effect of rBGH with antibiotics that stay in the milk until our children drink it. Already concerned about the overuse of antibiotics, parents and the medical community need to know of the additional risk. Canada called a two-year moratorium on the hormones use and the fourteen nation European Union banned rBGH totally. The World Health Organization showed their concern by stating the overuse of antibiotics in beef and milk presents “a growing risk to human health and should be reduced”.
“Milk is a veritable cocktail of cancer-causing chemicals” so says Jessica Outwater of Princeton University after studying the possible link between milk and cancer. ? Dr Daniel Cramer of Harvard studied the link between ovarian cancer and dairy product consumption. He explained that the milk sugar, Lactose, breaks down into galactose, another milk sugar. Enzymes then break galactose down further. When a women’s intake of dairy surpasses the enzymes ability to break down the galactose, it builds up in the blood stream which in turn can affect the ovaries. 2
Around the world, dairy-eating patterns parallel ovarian cancer rates! It is never too soon to protect our girls and ourselves from becoming a cancer victim. Women with low levels of the necessary enzymes, are at particular risk, perhaps as much as triple the risks. Daniel Cramer, a Boston gynecologist, stated “About 10% of the US population lacks the enzymes to metabolize galactose. Since you can’t tell whether you lack these enzymes (unlike lactose intolerance, in which there are clear signs of digestive upset) I just tell my patients they don’t need dairy.” Fermented dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are the richest source of galactose. Watch out for dairy containing Lactaid as well. And don’t think skim milk or non-fat dairy is ok. It’s the milk sugar, not the milk fat that is the problem. Dr Cramer believes women are most susceptible to harm during their teen years and younger, perhaps even in utero. A high-milk diet, so often prescribed by OB/GYNs for their pregnant patients, can predispose the baby to ovarian cancer later in life.
Those of us with Lactose intolerance are considered lucky! If lactose is not digested then it won’t release galactose. Thought to be a natural defense mechanism in mammals, Lactose intolerance is normal. Ingesting artificial enzymes so you can have dairy is, therefore, not a good idea. Nature’s system should not be by passed through such products. Listen to your body’s wisdom.
Insulin-dependent (Type I or childhood-onset) diabetes is linked to early childhood consumption of dairy products.1 A very strong correlation between the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes and dairy consumption has been illustrated in several studies. 2 In a 1992 study a dairy protein, bovine serum albumim (BSA), was shown to initiate an autoimmune reaction thought to destroy pancreatic cells. Pancreatic cells produce insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Once damaged the pancreas can not produce sufficient insulin and result is diabetes. A more recent study in Lancet further strengthened the link between Juvenile diabetes and milk.
The milk protein, bovine serum albumin (BSA) is thought to lead to an autoimmune reaction affecting the pancreas. With continued dairy consumption the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin is damaged. A 1992 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reported an evaluation of diabetic children’s levels of BSA. All of the 142 children studied had high levels of BSA antibodies. It seems logical to conclude that if genetic predisposition exists then eliminating dairy from a child’s diet can cut the risk of Juvenile diabetes from occurring.
An additional study from Finland found identical results. 3 The authors stated that not only do diabetic children have high levels of serum antibodies to cow’s milk, but inferred that such children have an immune response as well. Keep overworking the immune system and your child will be prone to illness and disease. A fully functioning immune system is a beautiful thing to see. Right in front of your eyes healing takes place and you know you have done a great job being in charge of your child’s health.
Fifty percent of all children in the United States are allergic to cow’s milk, many of which go undiagnosed. Dr. Frank A. Oski, Chief of Pediatrics at John’s Hopkins School of Medicine stated this finding in his book Don’t Drink Your Milk (Teach Services, 1992). Allergic symptoms range from ear infections and fatigue to diarrhea and constipation. There is also, what I call the “allergic cough”. That cough that we have all heard and sometimes, have learned to ignore. My head swivels when I hear this distinctive cough because I know it so well. I also know it is fairly easy to get rid of it. Many of my clients have experienced significant results when dairy was eliminated.
Usually the child is coughing while eating a huge ice cream cone with the poor parents looking on unaware of the connection between the two events. Many times the child develops symptoms days later so the connection is obscured. My daughter would have dairy and 3-7 days later we would hear that cough in the middle of the night. Why do things like this hit in the middle of the night? She would cough so hard she would throw up. This was a rude awakening for us because we hadn’t known that what we were feeding our baby was the culprit. We felt guilty because we had fed her these harmful products for months and by that time her immune system was compromised severely. Thankfully we made changes before more damage had been done and put her on the road to wellness.
What could be in milk and dairy products that cause such allergic and harmful reactions?
1. Bovine antigens- poorly digested these substances effect an immune response in your child. With continued exposure, your child’s immune functioning can be over worked and falter which equals allergies.
2. Toxins- repeated long-term exposure to toxins affects a child’s developing immune system. Besides the genetically engineered drug, rBGH, many other undesirable ingredients are excreted in cow’s milk. Antibiotics, hormones, chemicals, pesticides, and white blood cells are found in each glass of milk. Dr. Robert Kradjian, referred to milk in a letter to his patients as a “…chemical, biological, and bacterial cocktail.”4
3. Blood Cells- Those white blood cells mentioned above is actually pus. Pus is allowed by the USDA as long as farmers keep the blood cell count down under one to one half million cells per milliliter. I know it is difficult to believe, but the government and the farmers know exactly what it is you’re feeding your children and not only have decided for you that it is okay, but decided for you that you didn’t have to know about it at all. The dairy farmers and our government have decided that you won’t mind drinking just a little pus.
4. Antibiotics- Also included in your delicious and pure glass of milk is antibiotics and sulfa drugs. In 1989 The Wall Street Journal reported 38% of milk samples from ten cities in the US were contaminated with drugs and antibiotics.5 An FDA sampling showed a much higher contamination rate. Over 50% of milk was contaminated with drugs!
5. Milk makes mucous- Allergic, asthmatic, and chronically ill children with compromised immune systems do not need the added stress on their bodies. Even ancient Ayurvedic (Indian) doctors recognized the ill effects of dairy.
6. Pesticides- Over two-thirds of all herbicides used in the US is used on corn and soybeans. This is significant to us because cows eat mainly corn and soybeans. If fact the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences listed beef as the second most contaminated food with the highest cancer risk due to pesticide contamination.6
Colic use to be described as “unexplained crying”. My daughter suffered from colic pains which five pediatricians explained away as gas. It was okay with them that she was in pain nearly every day, and make no mistake, babies are in pain. They are suffering and their parents suffer along with them because one in five babies experience it. Now pediatricians acknowledge that cow’s milk is often the reason for the severe cramps, but my daughter was breast fed so how could milk or dairy products have been affecting her? Mothers who eat dairy pass the milk proteins through her breast milk. These proteins then end up in baby’s blood where the trouble begins.
Now the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no dairy until after the baby’s first birthday. Clinical studies have shown infants consuming dairy lose small amounts of blood from their digestive tracts. Is milk something we want to add to our children’s diet at any point in time? Is it ever truly a safe food?
A large body of evidence illustrating the causal relationship of osteoporosis and dairy consumption exists. In countries where dairy intake is the highest the rate of osteoporosis is also the highest. The conclusion from these numerous studies is that dairy does not stop the disease. In fact, milk is a poor source of calcium and could actually contribute to “soft bones”! An issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported a study of post-menopausal women whose calcium levels dropped after drinking three 8-ounce glasses of milk per day. Americans typically eat large amounts of protein, up to twice the RDA. Researchers have known since the 1920’s that a diet high in protein causes calcium to be excreted in urine. Also acknowledged was the fact that animal protein was one of the primary causes of calcium loss. Caffeine increases the loss of calcium, as well as refined sugar, and certain phosporus- rich junk food such as soda and potato chips. A diet high in these things increases the need for calcium because you are depleting it from your bones at an increased rate. Cultures who enjoy good bone health often have much less calcium in their diets, but also eat less protein.
All this means that although dairy seems to be an easy way to meet your calcium needs, it clearly is not. And in doing so you may be actually doing more harm than good. Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said, “There is growing doubt that milk protects bones.”
So how do you protect bones and get your fill of calcium? Get it from the same place cows do. Dark green vegetables are high in calcium. Broccoli, collard greens, and bok choy are terrific sources. Sea vegetables, such as hijiki seaweed, are packed with even more calcium, almost double than the dark greens listed above! An additional choice is tofu due to its calcium content and all the other excellent health benefits. Be sure to purchase an organic, low fat, fortified brand. Orange juice is also a good choice if it’s calcium-fortified.
In addition, weight bearing exercise builds bone mass. Lifting weights, running and walking are some exercises usually recommended. The extra benefits are numerous: weight loss, mood enhancement, more energy, less chance of certain cancers, etc.
Eating right is the best way to stay healthy, but only a very small percent of people in the US do so. Through my work with doctors, health care professionals, and clients I have come to believe that a quality, pharmaceutical grade vitamin is essential to not only fighting osteoporosis, but to balancing the health scale in our favor. One of the best is Pharmanex’s LifePak series. It is formulated for different age groups and even has a children’s LifePak uniquely created with grape seed extract, a potent anti oxidant.
The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine notes that boron seems to help stop the loss of calcium. 7 While a 1987study found “Vitamin D, copper, zinc, manganese, fluorine, and boron are all essential for good bone formation.”8 Obtaining these nutrients through diet, as we said before, is desirable, but difficult to do. Popping Tums will not provide you with all that is necessary for optimum absorption an neither will “Any cheap calcium supplement” to quote my Mother’s doctor. Your supplement must be synergistically formulated to benefit you the most. Going to the health food store and picking out five different bottles will not insure that you’re covered and can be dangerous. Vitamins, minerals, herbs, and antioxidants do have toxicity levels, contraindications, and side effects. I recently received a call from an OB/GYN whom had a patient on five different herbs purchased at the health food store. The patient assumed that since they were all natural taking all of them would be safe. The doctor wanted me to research all the supplements to insure safety. Make sure you see a health consultant who is knowledgeable in this area. Because we build up our stores of calcium from a very early age, being knowledgeable about osteoporosis is important for to children, as well as ourselves.
HELPFUL SHOPPING HINTS
Perhaps you’ve now decided to go “milk free” or at least cut back on milk consumption. When my family realized we needed and wanted to do so seven years ago we faced a difficult task. On the grocery store shelves we didn’t see soy or rice milks and going out to dinner was extremely painful when my toddler wanted dessert. Birthday parties were laden with cheese pizza and ice cream cake and chocolate. Today it is easier, not a ‘piece of ice cream cake’, but easier.
1. Try Soy. Soy milk is not just an alternative to milk, but in my opinion, a tremendously healthy addition to your diet. Soy milk varies in taste and content so read labels and have a taste testing party. Some people are allergic to soy so switching to it might not clear symptoms or aggravate others. Try Rice milk if you know of soy allergies, but if none exist, soy is an essential ingredient to a healthy, preventative, and balanced diet. If you see soy products are working for your family try organic soy yogurt, cheese, mayonnaise, pudding, cream cheese, ice cream, and waffles.
2. Note Changes Keep notes when making any significant changes in diet, supplements, or environment. Noting changes, negative or positive is very important. You think you’ll remember, but, and I say this with kindness, get a grip because you won’t. Mommy amnesia had set in at birth and we need help remembering the important things from day to day. I use a little spiral bound notebook called the Memory Minder. I can track adverse and positive reactions, as well as vitamin and herbal supplements, illness and medication, questions for my health-care professional, and insurance information and receipts.
3. Read Labels Milk is hidden in many foods; some of which you never would have guessed milk was lurking there. Spaghetti, crackers, pretzels, bread, veggie burgers, soy milk and cheeses, and my favorite- non-dairy creamers.
4. Code Words Words that signal milk is contained within are: lactose, caseinate, and whey. All are milk additives.
5. Buy Kosher Margarine, bread, and other foods marked Kosher are free of milk. Pareve or parve indicates the food conforms to kosher law and is milk free.
6. Prepare to Party Ok, it’s not as much fun, but bring your child’s favorite soy ice cream with you to birthday parties and back yard get togethers. My daughter has no problem pulling the cheese off the pizza, or asking for two slices with no cheese, and eating her carob-covered soy ice cream cone. She knows she feels so much better when she does and she knows how sick she feels when she eats dairy. She also knows what is in dairy and wouldn’t eat it now if it were covered in fudge with cherries on top! Kids are smart; they will make the right decision on their own if we allow their wisdom to come through.
7. The Soy of Cooking You can cook and bake with soy milk. Two terrific cookbooks are Once Upon a Recipe by Karen Greene and A Celebration of Wellness by James Levin and Natalie Cederquist. Once Upon a Recipe has all natural and tasty recipes with tie-ins to children’s literature. There’s “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!” cupcakes and “Tinkerbell’s Raspberry Buns”. All recipes use whole grains when possible and most suggest soy milk instead of cows. You can easily substitute as it suits you. Quotes from famous literature are throughout making this an interesting, as well as delicious addition to your cooking. A Celebration of Wellness is a vegetarian cookbook with “no dairy” ideas. When the neighborhood kids see me coming with the pitcher from my blender they line up for the smoothies! Fresh fruit, or organic frozen fruit, with soy milk make a yummy drink for breakfast or late afternoon snack.
Milk is not necessary for our children’s health and well being. Go beyond all the hype and misinformation heaped upon us for years and years. Begin questioning your doctor’s recommendations. Perhaps it will make them open up to new concepts and in return open up new paths to health and healing for us all.
LifePak multivitamin and mineral Memory Minder notebook Contact: Total Wellness (954) 476-1696
1. Barnard, N. Milk and Breast Cancer. Prevention and Nutrition 1996; August:11-17.
2. Cramer, DW, et al. Galactose consumption and metabolism in relation to the risk of ovarian cancer. Lancet 1989; 2:66-71.
3. Anderson, J. Mad Poisoned Cows- The Dangerous Toxins in Meat and Milk. www.alternativemedicine.com.
4. Kradjian,R. The Milk Letter: A message to my patients. www.afpafitness.com
5. The Wall Street Journal, December29, 1989.
6. National Research Council, Board on Agriculture, Regulating Pesticides in Food: The Delaney Paradox. Washington: National Academy Press, 1987:78-80.
7. Boning up on Calcium and Osteoporosis. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. www.envirolink.org
8. Schaafsman, F., et al. nutritional aspects of osteoporosis. Wld Rev Nutr Diet 1987, 49:121-159.