My last blog post shared with you how you can protect your bones. This topic would not be complete without a discussion about dairy products.
We are all taught from the time we are very young that no diet is complete or wholesome without milk, cheese, sour cream or yogurt. It is ingrained in us that dairy products ensure strong bones and will protect us from osteoporosis. However, as researchers have pulled back the layers of advertising that surround these claims, they found that the research just didn't support what was being sold to consumers.
Humans are the only species to consume milk after weaning and the only species to consume the milk of other species. The nutrient profile of mother's milk varies between species in order to provide their young with exactly what they need during the period of their most rapid growth. Even if you consume organic milk, that milk is going to contain naturally occurring growth factors that are designed to turn a 60-pound calf into a 600-pound cow within six months.
There are numerous worrisome biological reactions to the ingestion of cow's milk by humans. Here are just a few things to consider:
- As explained in my last blog, consuming meat and dairy products can disrupt the slightly alkaline pH that our body strives to maintain within our blood and body tissues. As a result of the constant acid neutralizing actions that our body must take, we leave our bones vulnerable to osteopenia and osteoporosis, we open ourselves up to the possibility of kidney stones, and we could stress our kidneys to the point that we could lose up to 1/3 of their function by the time we are 70.
- Dairy products have also been shown to increase the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in our blood. IGF-1 is a powerful stimulus for cancer and can also impair programmed cell death. In addition, 87 percent of the protein in cow's milk is comprised of casein. According to traditional regulatory criteria, casein is the most significant chemical carcinogen ever discovered. Consumption of dairy can also impair the activation of vitamin D, which is protective against cancer.
- Dairy can trigger an autoimmune response. If partially digested cow's milk proteins make it through the gut barrier into the bloodstream, the body recognizes them as foreign and could create antibodies against them. If identical amino acid sequences exist anywhere else in the body, these antibodies may inadvertently destroy that those sequences as well. This is what is believed to occur with Type I diabetes. There is a 17-amino acid sequence in the beta casein protein in dairy that identically matches a sequence of amino acids in the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. These pancreatic cells may become the target of antibodies originally designed to attack and destroy the dairy peptides.
- Milk has also been found to contain viruses, bacteria, white blood cells, prions and other contaminants—and if it is not organic, could contain antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones. The levels of naturally occurring hormones are also higher now than they were in the past due to the modern farming technique of milking cows throughout their pregnancy. Milk from cows in the later stages of their pregnancy can contain as much as 33 times more estrogen than milk from a cow that is not pregnant. And if you recall from my blogs about cancer, we all want to minimize our exposure to excess hormones.
- Dairy products are also the number one source of food allergies.
Look instead to plant sources for adequate but not excessive calcium such as green, leafy vegetables and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils).
For a more comprehensive look at the dangers of dairy products and the studies supporting these findings, please click here. For your health and the health of your loved ones, I encourage you to click on it. Knowledge is power.
I am a Plant-Based Nutrition Counselor, a graduate of Cornell University's plant-based nutrition program, the only collegiate program in the country which focuses on the medical benefits of a low-fat, plant-based lifestyle, and am board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. I help people to achieve their wellness goals by providing them with the tools that they need to gain control over their health. I hope you enjoy my blogs. If you would prefer individualized assistance with your weight, with a chronic, degenerative disease, with other health and wellness aspirations, or if you would like me to speak to a group, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 724.469.0693 to arrange a time.