Dairy – Is It Really Necessary?

March 2, 2013
The House of Healing
Dairy – is it really necessary?
If you look at the latest dietary guidelines from the USDA the recommended servings of milk is two to three cups a day. In fact these guidelines specifically advise individuals to get more fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy related products. But according to a great deal of recent research, milk and dairy isn’t necessarily an essential part of a healthy diet. Above all dairy may pose many health risks and some are starting to question if humans should be consuming milk at all. So how do we make sense of this information and ensure we get the essential nutrients that dairy has to offer?
First it is important to note that the USDAs recommendations are based on the nutrients that milk and dairy have to offer, these being calcium, potassium and vitamin D, which is added to fortified milks. So why do some experts believe cows milk is for calves only?

Here are some reasons that experts believe we should reconsider milk and milk products:

  • Many dairy products contain high saturated fat content and when consumed in large amounts can be a risk factor for heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels, obesity and some types of cancer.
  • Milk allergies are common. Some individuals either react to one of the proteins in milk or to the milk sugar, lactose, causing lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerant individuals lack the enzyme lactase to effectively digest milk and dairy products. This can cause symptoms like cramping, bloating and diarrhoea ranging from mild to severe.
  • Those with mild lactose intolerance may be able to consume small amounts of milk without noticeable symptoms. However the nutritional benefits of milk may be lost when a lactase deficient individual cannot adequately digest milk.
  • Synthetic hormones in milk could be doing you harm. Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), also known as rBST, is a synthetic version of Bovine Growth Hormone (a naturally occurring growth hormone) that is injected into a cow to artificially maintain her milk production. The Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organisation have independently stated that dairy products from rBST treated cows are safe for human consumption. However it is well known that rBST increases levels of the growth hormone insulin-like growth factor. Read below…
  • Hormones in milk have been linked to cancer. One reason the experts have made this link is due to insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). Milk contains IGF-1 to assist calves to grow quickly. At elevated levels of IGF-1 have been found to stimulate the growth rate cancer cells in humans.
  • The process of pasteurisation destroys any harmful microorganisms and renders milk safe for everyone to drink. However it should be considered that conventional milk pasteurisation is a process that exposes milk to high temperatures and results in the denaturing of milk proteins, making them less useful in the body, the destruction of enzymes, including phosphatase, an enzyme that helps your body absorb calcium, destruction of vitamins B12, B6, and C. Pasteurisation also destroys all the beneficial bacteria in milk, including lactobacillus acidophilus.

With the dairy industry putting such an emphasis on bone health as part of their clever marketing ploy it makes good sense that people are encouraged to consume dairy products to ensure they are not deficient in any of these essential nutrients. However what is not well known is that bone strength is the result of several different factors – not just how much calcium you consume from dairy sources.

Important lifestyle factors that can limit the amount of bone loss in adulthood include:
● getting regular exercise – especially weight-bearing and muscle strengthening
● getting adequate vitamin D
● consuming enough vitamin K
● avoiding excessive consumption of preformed vitamin A
● limiting caffeine drinks.

For alternative sources of calcium check out this list recommended by Osteoporosis Australia – notice there is no dairy………………………

Almonds Broccoli Cucumber Silver beet Mustard Cabbage
Bok Choy Celery Chickpeas Dried Figs Dried Apricots
Calcium set tofu Unhulled tahini

As Easter is nearly upon us choose dairy free dark chocolate. This is just another reason to indulge in dark chocolate – it’s dairy free as well as being high in antioxidants. Choose brands like Haighs, Lindt 70% or Whittakers Dark Chocolate.

If you still have concerns about calcium intake and bone health after reading this article then it may be worthwhile considering talking to your Naturopathic Doctor as your digestive health and hormone balance also plays an important part in determining your bone health. They can also assist you with a large range of delicious alternatives to use.

Further Reading:
Your Life in Your Hands by Prof. Jane Plant PhD, DBE

“Milk is designed as the perfect food for newborn animals. They are dependent on milk to keep development and cell differentiation going. But milk contains a chemical– insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1 — which girls have naturally as teenagers to help their breasts develop. This chemical– which is designed to stimulate cell growth- can send the wrong signal to adult breast tissue.”

Studies in the US and Canada in 1998 found that pre-menopausal women with the highest IGF-1 concentration in their blood had a far higher risk of developing breast cancer (similar studies have found a link between IGF-1 and prostate cancer).

“Over 70 per cent of the world’s population is unable to digest the milk sugar, lactose. Lactose intolerance may be nature’s early warning system: perhaps nature is trying to tell us that we’re eating the wrong food.”

Prof. Jane Plant, PhD, CBE


No comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *