I think the first thing we need to ask ourselves is whether milk is a whole and healthy food as we have long been told and taught.
The answer to this is definitely YES it is. But the next question is, WHO is milk a healthy food for?
And the answer is simple. For the animal/mammals that it was designed for. Very simply and by all simple logic, milk was designed for YOUNG mammals. Mammals including humans. The word mammal is derived from mammalia, meaning “of the breasts”.
So what I am trying to highlight is that milk is a product of mammals that is made to be drank from breasts. It is a very nutritious drink that is whole in nature that is meant to help a young mammal grow to the point where it is able to feed on a wider variety of foods. At that point, milk is deemed no longer to be necessary and the animal is weaned. Humans inclusive. Milk by design was made to be so healthy and to be drank in early life and not much longer beyond that.
But also each mammal makes the milk that is best suited for its offspring in its breasts. And definitely this applies to us humans as well.
I always like to ask 2 logical questions about milk?
First, do you know any animal besides human beings, continues to drink milk beyond infancy or early childhood? Some may say cats and dogs, but they definitely get it from us human beings. They do not naturally go in search of milk.
Second, how often do you seen one animal drinking milk of another animal or breastfeeding off another animal? It is only humans that do this. We wean our children off human breastmilk and then go and begin consuming milk made for cows and other animals?
Is there any logic to this? I don’t know, but by design, God knew that every mammal needed milk and gave it milk to use for a while and then stop. Even the enzymes we need to digest milk are more than 95% gone by the time we are 3 years old. Why? Because they are no longer needed.
But many of us do drink milk for many reasons. Some because we were taught that it is healthy, some because we enjoy it or some in search for some of the nutrients it offers like calcium.
But let me share a few ideas about milk to help give you a better understanding
Milk may all be white but the composition varies widely from one animal to another. For example, cow’s milk has been suited to turn a 30kg calf into a 180kg cow within a year. Cow’s milk has too much protein and too much fat. However, it has very little or no iron, fiber, vitamin c and half the calcium compared to human milk. It promoted rapid growth that makes us and our children big but does not offer much in terms of nutrients to support our advanced systems like brain health. A lot of cow’s milk will lead to aneamia and even constipation in kids. So in simple terms a big chubby or sometimes overweight child who struggles with brain function, and who has poor bowel movements and even reduced immunity. The same goes for adults.
Related to the point above, milk is relatively high in calories. One cup of 2% milk has 138 calories, for instance. Drinking three cups a day adds 366 calories to the diet — a lot for anyone who wants an optimal weight.
Milk has been shown to be one of the most allergy stimulating foods in the diet. To help you understand this more, allergies are really your body’s exaggerated immune response to something foreign. Other animals milk especially cow milk protein causes a response in humans that causes allergies. Cow’s milk has been linked to onset of asthma, allergies and even acne and eczema and the earlier in life you introduce cow’s milk to a child, the higher the chance that they will have problems with allergies and related conditions. This is partly because a young child’s intestines, has small pores to allow through maternal nutrients and antibodies. But cow’s milk protein also finds its way through and once it enters the blood, the body begins to mount a response against it. People who are weaned earlier and who have cow’s milk introduced earlier have much more allergies, eczema and asthma than those who did not have so much exposure. If you have any of these, please try and eliminate milk and see the difference it can make.
I urge all mothers to resist the urge to introduce cow’s milk for convenience sakes and try as much as possible to breast feed. Where it becomes hard to physically breastfeed, try and express your milk and store it for later use.
Milk is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to food sensitivities and is linked to digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation and abdominal discomfort
Milk has been linked to increased mucous production. You only have to drink milk or remove milk from your diet to attest to this.
Milk for the large part today is no longer a natural whole food. Today’s milk is a processed food. Until the mid-1900s milk was consumed unpasteurized or raw, now pasteurisation and other processes have become the industry’s standard. These processes further alter milk’s chemistry and actually increase its detrimental acidifying effects.
Talking of acidifying effects, like any other animal derived protein-rich food, milk has an acidifying effect of the bodies. This acidity causes damage to the kidneys and will enhance disease processes that thrive in acidic conditions including cancer, arthritis and lower immunity. High acidity also means that the body must try to balance the acid because our body’s work best in an alkaline environment. And so the body will actually go into your bones and withdraw the calcium it has stored to balance the acid. This leads to demineralisation of bones and increased risk of osteoporosis. This has now been proven by many clinical trials. It is a fact that the more milk someone drinks the weaker your bones are likely to become
But how can this be so? We have been taught that milk has calcium that will make our bones and teeth stronger.
The simple truth once again is that it is calcium that makes our bones and teeth strong, it is not milk. And the calcium we get from milk, first of all is not absorbed very well but then the acid load of milk takes away even some of the calcium stored away.
Now a big question arises, where shall you get calcium if you don’t drink milk? I will answer this with another question to you. Where do cow’s get their calcium? They don’t make it. Calcium is a mineral. Cow’s eat it in the grass and plants. There is more calcium in green leafy foods and in a more bioavailable form than you will get in cow’s milk.
We must understand that calcium is found in many food sources and not only milk.
The concept that milk is a whole and healthy food is true but it is one that is best suited for children and young mammals until the age that they are weaned. After that there is limited role for milk in the diet if someone is healthy.
In people who are nutritionally compromised or people with special needs such as in the elderly, milk may have a role to play, but in otherwise healthy individuals there is no nutritional or other harm if someone eliminates milk.
However though, because milk does have some calcium, if we stop or reduce the consumption of milk, we must consume an adequate amount of vegetables, nuts and seeds to meet the calcium needs of the body.
I believe that after the age of 5 years, children and adults do not require milk in their diet. But in the event that you feel, you are not ready to stop milk or would like to approach this in a more gradual manner I recommend that you use skimmed milk or low fat yoghurt and cheese in extreme moderation.
For those that enjoy milk, you may consider using a plant based milk product such as unprocessed soy milk or almond milk. These are much healthier and better types of milk.
In conclusion, it is important to improve your understanding of what the role of milk is in health and disease and to be able to weigh the perceived benefits vs the known risks. It is my opinion that milk is a product that should be reserved for children and must be restricted to human breast milk if consumed. Breastfeeding your baby is the best gift you can give them if you are able to and have adequate supplies of breastmilk. I ask and urge all mothers to give it their best possible shot and breastfeed their babies exclusively until 6 months and not stop until 2 years unless it cannot be avoided.
Wishing you health and happiness.