Drink milk?

August 12, 2010 1 Comment

What is milk? You’d expect this to be a rhetorical question, however to give this article any justice I thought it would be important to give a brief definition (though nearly every human being has tasted milk at least once in their lifetime, I think.)

Milk is an opaque liquid that is produced by cows. If you need a further scientific or linguistic breakdown, then pick up a science book.

We have been told since childhood that milk is very good for us and that it helps build strong bones etc. Though these statements were true at one point in time, they do not hold much truth at present (exception: raw organic milk from grass fed cows – see further below).

Ok, so what has happened to our milk you ask?

Well here goes…

First of all, the cows are not treated very well to say the least, they are contained in excruciating environments and subject to various substances (rBGH, antibiotics).

The purpose of Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) – a genetically engineered hormone – is to force the cows to produce more milk than their bodies would usually produce. This in itself doesn’t sound very acceptable, however it gets worse.

As a result of being regularly injected with rBGH and therefore being forced to produce more milk, the cows become highly susceptible to udder infections (mastitis). This results in an increase in the amount of pus which ends up in the milk we drink. Yes I said PUS. Results show that administering cows with rBGH results in a 79% increase in udder infections (mastitis) and this results in a 19% increase in somatic cell counts (i.e. pus and bacteria in the milk we so readily consume!).

Now if that hasn’t put you off wait for this, how do you think this udder infection is treated. That’s right, ANTIBIOTICS!!!

Do these antibiotics end up in our milk, you bet!

The use of rBGH stimulates the production of another hormone called Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) – approximately 5 times more production of IGF-1. IGF-1 is directly responsible for increasing the amount of milk that is produced.

IGF-1 is responsible for the quick growth of infants (both in humans and cows).

When cow’s milk is consumed by non-infants, it can behave as a cancer-accelerator – and no it isn’t destroyed by pasteurization (see below).

Next, come in Louis Pasteur. The man behind pasteurization. Pasteurisation is the process of heating liquids with the purpose of destroying viruses and harmful organisms (e.g. bacteria, molds, yeast etc.)

This process is beneficial if only the bad bacteria were killed. Unfortunately though, the good bacteria (known to most of you as probiotics) is destroyed too as well as the key enzymes that enable most humans to digest milk properly, notably the enzyme lactase which helps digest the milk sugar lactose. Interesting fact: before pasteurization, milk contains a good amount of vitamin C and Omega 3 fatty acids!

Oh yeah, forgot to tell you that pasteurization also changes the calcium into an insoluble form that the body can no longer absorb. The amount of phosphorous in milk also blocks this absorption, if it may even happen. Did you know that there is a high correlation between osteoporosis and high milk consumption, wonder why that is?

Broccoli, sardines and nuts contain significant amounts of calcium, so don’t worry about not getting your calcium from milk which you won’t get either way.

Step in Mr. Homogenization.  Homogenization is the process of breaking up the fate into smaller sizes so that the fat does not collect at the top of the milk.  How is this done?  The milk is forced (at high pressure) through small orifices.  Why is this done and what implication does this have you may ask?  As with pasterurization, homogenization extends the shelf-life of milk and also makes it look “nicer” – don’t ask – apparently the fat accumulating at the top of unhomogenised milk is somewhat unalluring.  I didn’t realize people bought milk because it looked so pretty!

Say goodbye to your arteries, homogenization allows the enzyme xanthine oxidas (XO) to pass intact into the blood stream.  Once in the blood stream it starts to attack the tissue of the artery walls, which causes lesions that the body tries to heal by laying down a protective layer of cholesterol.  End result: scar tissue and plaque with a buildup of cholesterol and other fatty deposits. 

Okay, now lets talk about what the cows are fed.  Most cows are fed grains as opposed to green pastures.  This leads to a great imbalance in the fat makeup of the cows and the fatty acid ratios.   Grass-fed cows contain a larger amount of omega -3 fatty acids as welll as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)- shown in numerous studies to be beneficial in many aspects of health. 

The Alternative?  Well you could always have soya milk, though this type of milk is shrouded in yet another set of less favorable studies and evidence, though there are some good arguments for and against soya milk.  Other varieties include rice milk, oat milk and camel’s milk. 

What else can you do?  Well you could seek out a raw milk producer that conforms to many of the aforementioned issues, though this shall be extremely difficult due to the current jurisdiction i most countries.  You could always use water with your cereals instead, I’m serious.  If you are adamant about having milk, then I advise organic unhomogenized milk.  If you can’t get this type, then the next alternative would be organic skimmed milk.  Both of which would require most people to take a lactase supplement.

Article Written By: Health Blogger


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One Comments to “Drink milk?”
  1. Brooke Ballantyne Scott says:

    I’d add almond milk to the list of alternatives to Cow’s milk. It tastes great, and is easy to make at home if you don’t want to buy it from the store!

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