|Does milk do a body that much good?
By Darrel Crain, Chiropractor
I love cheese, don't you? Cheese, of course, is made from the milk of strange-looking four-legged mammals with big eyes and dull horns who live in concentration camps scattered around the countryside. You know -- dairy cows.
Chances are that the cow who made the milk to make my cheese gets injected with growth hormones to speed up milk production and raise profitability. This also means the poor old cow gets dosed with loads of antibiotics to treat the impacts of added stress.
I'm recommending a different slogan to the dairy industry, "Got hormone-saturated bovine glandular secretions?" Kind of catchy, don't you think?
The factory farms that produce dairy products and beef for human consumption in our country have become a leading source of the most problematic types of pollution on our planet. That goes for the environment we live in, as well as our own internal environment.
Cow's milk, of course, is perfect for baby cows. Nature has concocted the perfect milk cocktail to help that little calf gain as many as five hundred pounds in its first year. So, if you want your child to gain that kind of size that fast, cow's milk is just the ticket! But, then again, would a calf be able to thrive or even live, on its mother's milk after the milk was pasteurized? Nope. Isn't that interesting?
As Fran Lebowitz pointed out, "Food is an important part of a balanced diet."
The other day, I picked up a news magazine and randomly opened up to a full-page color picture of a really hot babe leaning against a lamppost in the middle of a big city somewhere. What really caught my attention was the fact that she was wearing one of those little milk mustaches -- and little else.
My first thought was, holy cow, Isn't she cold just standing there? My second thought was, what is a nice girl like that doing standing around Times Square wearing a bikini that covers about as much area as three postage stamps? And what does any of this have to do with drinking milk?
"Half the work that is done in the world is to make things appear what they are not," wrote E.R. Beadle.
The dairy industry, for example, spends millions of dollars advising us to drink milk to ensure healthy bones. But do we really have a calcium emergency here in America? Does every body really need milk?
Here's the opinion of professor Walter Willet of the Harvard School of Public Health and chairman of the nutrition department: "There is no evidence that we have a calcium emergency, as the dairy industry would have us believe. We have one of the highest calcium intakes in the world." Interesting.
Do you suppose one of us should tell the big cheeses over at dairy central about this? Think of all the milk money normally spent convincing us that milk is the absolute key to good health that they could save each year.
The generalization that cows' milk benefits "every body" overlooks the glaring fact that milk resides at the top of the list of allergy-triggering foods. Milk is linked to a whole spectrum of chronic children's health problems including such maladies as recurrent ear infections, constipation, sinus congestion, asthma, and skin problems such as acne, to name a few. Many doctors have discovered, as I have, that eliminating dairy products from the diet can help many of these kids.
In susceptible people, dairy products appear to be immunogenic, or capable of triggering an autoimmune response such as type I diabetes. According to Diabetes Care, a publication of the American Diabetic Association, "Early cow's milk exposure may be an important determinant of subsequent type I diabetes and may increase the risk approximately 1.5 times." That's a 50 percent risk increase.
In adults, a flood of scientific evidence relates milk drinking to such disorders as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, obesity, arthritis and even cancer. The hormones present in cow's milk also seem to trigger abnormal hormonal responses in humans.
That got me wondering if the raging osteoporosis epidemic in America is really caused by drinking too little milk? Perhaps we should check how they're doing in countries where people consume even more milk than we do. That would be Denmark, Holland, Norway and Sweden. The verdict? They have rates of osteoporosis higher than we do. This suggests that higher milk consumption means higher osteoporosis rates.
When it comes to bone density, the real question seems not to be how much calcium we eat in our diets, but how much calcium we prevent from leaving our bones. Naturally, that brings up the question, what causes calcium to leave the bones? The answer may not be what you think.
For example, according to the journal Science, "Osteoporosis is caused by a number of things, one of the most important being too much dietary protein."
The American Journal of Epidemiology reported, "Consumption of dairy products...was associated with an increased risk of hip fractures... metabolism of dietary protein causes increased urinary excretion of calcium."
The reason? "Dietary protein increases production of acid in the blood which can be neutralized by calcium mobilized from the skeleton," according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Are we flushing away our bone health?
Decades of marketing slogans from dairy enthusiasts have convinced the public that milk is "nature's perfect food." But it is hardly "perfect" for 90 percent of Asians, 70 percent of Africans, 50 percent of Hispanics and 15 percent of Caucasians, all of whom may be lactose intolerant.
If you really want to get more calcium, the best place to find it is where the cows used to get it in the first place: green, leafy vegetables. Could the dairy industry have another motive in paying beautiful people to pose nearly naked with ridiculous painted-on milk mustaches? Who knows? I'm still waiting for them to call me up to take off my shirt and join the famous, sexy cheerleaders of the dairy world. But then again, maybe they've seen my picture.
Clement Freud once lamented, "If you resolve to give up smoking, drinking and loving, you don't actually live longer; it just seems longer." To his list we must now add cheese. Milk has become one more sacred cow that may be making us sick -- or even killing us.
The ultimate question is, how could cheese truly be evil? I'm not sure, but in this case, I will defer to Mae West who said, "When choosing between two evils, I always like to take the one I've never tried before." Have you tried this sharp cheddar? Delicious.
© Darrel Crain, 2006 All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Opinions? Rants? Call Darrel Crain at 619-445-0100
Dr. Darrel Crain
Natural Health Writer
President, CCA San Diego County District