Thanks in part to lobbying efforts on behalf of dairy farmers, Americans feel that it’s necessary to drink milk throughout their lives. We’ve seen countless advertisements which perpetuate the myth: “Milk. It does a body good.” Milk can be a high fat product with excessive quantities of protein. It’s specifically designed to efficiently grow a cow, an animal which will mature rapidly and live a relatively short time. The National Research Council, a nonprofit organization that provides scientific advice to the federal government, has reported that the cow’s milk humans drink also contains all of the pesticides and hormones that cows ingest with the alfalfa they eat.
A study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in June, 1993, confirmed that there is a definite correlation between cow’s milk and the incidence of diabetes. Furthermore, some allergies, which manifest themselves in runny and stuffy noses, can be traced to cow’s milk. Some ear and tonsil infections also originate with the drinking of milk. Ingesting other dairy products including butter, cheese and ice cream can also result in these symptoms.
Surprisingly, we are the only species on this planet that drinks milk after infancy, and we are also the only species that drinks milk from a species other than our own. Maybe the other animals know more than we do!
Many infants have trouble digesting cow’s milk. This intolerance of lactose, or to the protein in milk, manifests itself in stomach and intestinal disturbance, gas and rashes.
Lactose is the result of combining two sugars: glucose and galactose. Most of us produce an intestinal enzyme, lactase, which allows us to break down these sugars. Our bodies produce the most lactase in infancy when we drink the most milk. As we get older, our bodies produce lesser amounts of lactase so our tolerance to lactose goes down naturally.
The protein we get from milk can be obtained from dozens of vegetable sources, primarily legumes, which include soy bean products. It is a little trickier to find other sources of calcium but this substance is contained in many vegetables like broccoli. Calcium is also available, in smaller amounts, in many other foods. If you’re still concerned, you can buy calcium supplements wherever vitamins are sold. Soy milk, orange juice and cereals are now calcium fortified.
I want you to be aware that cow’s milk can show up in unexpected food items so you have to read labels carefully. Even a small amount hidden in a food can trigger a reaction in children with milk protein allergies.
Be gentle as you are making dietary improvements for your family. Some families do well with a drastic and complete change and some require a more gradual approach that leads them to a very occasional indulgence of a favorite food. Find what works for your family as you walk this path to improving your health by improving your foods.