Due to corporate interests, lobbying, and widespread misinformation, few people know the truth about dairy. Luckily recent scientific research has revealed that the calcium in milk doesn’t build stronger bones, but is actually too acidic for humans and causes calcium to leach out, creating weaker bones. Because of this information, more and more doctors and health professionals are starting to speak out against dairy consumption. It has even been revealed that many of the food and nutrition ‘experts’ who created the Food Pyramid and Dietary Guidelines worked directly for, or were in some way employed by, the dairy and meat industries. Walter Willett, M.D., Ph.D, the head of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health is one of the guidelines’ most vocal critics. He stated that its daily recommendations are “utterly ridiculous.” The meat and dairy-laden food pyramid taught in Canadian and American schools and Canada’s Food Guide just aren’t based on key scientific findings about health.
The main problems with dairy are:
– Cow’s milk has a positive potential renal acid load (PRAL), as do all other animal-derived protein rich foods. In humans, drinking it triggers a biological reaction to neutralize all the damaging acidic protein and act as a protector before it reaches the kidneys and urinary tract. The most readily available acid neutraliser in the body is in your bones. Therefore, the body sacrifices bone density to neutralise all the acid and milk actually ends up removing some of the calcium from your bones.
– Drinking milk doesn’t reduce bone fractures. Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never actually been shown to reduce fracture risk. According to the Nurses’ Health Study, dairy can increase the risk of fractures by 50 percent. Consumption of dairy products has also been associated with an increased risk of hip fracture in old age. Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.
– Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. Countries with the highest (US, England, Sweden, Finland) have the highest rates of osteoporosis.
– Calcium from dairy may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) a known cancer promoter. High levels of IGF-1 leads to accelerated aging and disease.
– Most people can’t even digest dairy. About 75 % of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products; a problem called lactose intolerance, which individuals can suffer from in varying degrees of severity.
– Dairy is high in saturated fat. It’s designed to make a baby calf triple its weight in the first year of its life. It is literally baby cow growth formula, and naturally leads to unwanted human weight gain.
– Dairy aggravates IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), allergies, sinus problems, ear infections, Type 1 diabetes, constipation, and anemia in children.
– Pasteurized milk (the only kind you can buy at the grocery store) has pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and harmful effects from homogenization and pasteurization. These processes further alter milk’s chemistry and actually increase its detrimental acidifying effects. Until the end of the 19th century in Europe and the beginning of the 20th century in the US, milk was consumed unpasteurized or raw.
– The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme needed to properly metabolize and break down lactose, the sugar that is found in milk) sometime between age 2-5. It is normal for almost all mammals stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize milk after they have been weaned off their mother’s milk.
– Human bodies weren’t made to digest cow’s milk. Many scientists agree that calcium, potassium, protein, and fats should be obtained from better food sources, like whole plant foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, microalgae, and seaweed).
– The hormone’s in cow’s milk are the cause of persistent acne and hormonal imbalances for many individuals.
– Cows milk is an ethically controversial food. Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do- to nourish their young- but calves on dairy farms are taken away from their mothers when they are just one day old. Most female dairy cows are artificially inseminated from the time they are one year old, kept continuously pregnant, and many are pumped full of antibiotics and hormones to make them produce far more milk than they normally would. This causes the cows to develop painful mastitis, leading to milk that is full of pus and blood which has to be removed through harsh pasteurization methods.
– The antibiotics in milk can lead to antibiotic resistance in humans.
– Cows are also fed unnatural, high-protein diets which include low-quality meat from chickens, pigs, and other animals. This is because their natural diet of grass would not provide the nutrients that they need to produce such massive amounts of milk. It’s also cheaper to keep cows standing on concrete in a pen for their entire lives than letting them roam free and graze on large pastures of land.
– For ethically-concerned consumers, if you drink milk, you’re subsidizing the veal industry. While female calves are kept alive to produce milk, male calves are taken away from their mothers when they are as young as 1 day old to be chained in tiny stalls for 3-18 weeks and raised for veal. Calves raised for veal are fed a milk substitute that is designed to make them gain at least 2 pounds per day, and their diet is purposely low in iron so that their flesh stays pale as a result of anaemia. These calves live their entire lives terrified, in addition to suffering from diarrhea, pneumonia, and lameness.
– Large dairy farms have an enormously detrimental effect on the environment. In California, America’s top milk-producing state, manure from dairy farms has poisoned hundreds of square miles of groundwater, rivers, and streams. Each of the more than 1 million cows on the state’s dairy farms excretes 18 gallons of manure daily. Overall, factory-farmed animals, including those on dairy farms, produce 1.65 billion tons of manure each year, much of which ends up in waterways and drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that this agricultural runoff is the primary cause of polluted lakes, streams, and rivers.
– The dairy industry is the primary source of smog-forming pollutants in California. A single cow emits more of these harmful gasses than a car does. Each cow raised by the dairy industry consumes as much as 40 gallons of water per day.
– The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that dairy cows produce more manure than beef cattle. According to the EPA, a dairy farm with 2000 cows generates more than 240,000 pounds of manure every day. That’s nearly 90 million pounds a year. The USDA estimates that the manure from 200 milking cows produces as much nitrogen as sewage from a community of 5,000 to 10,000 people.
- “Case-Control Study of Risk Factors for Hip Fractures in the Elderly”. American Journal of Epidemiology. Vol. 139, No. 5, 1994
- Collier RJ, Miller MA, Hildebrandt JR, Torkelson AR et al. Factors affecting insulin-like growth factor-1 concentration in bovine milk. J Dairy Sci 1991; 74 :2905– 2911
- Daxenberger A, Breier BH, Sauerwein H. Increased milk levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) for the identification of bovine somatotropin (bST) treated cows. Analyst. 1998; Dec; 123(12):2429-35.
- Grossman, Elizabeth. ‘As Dairy Farms Grow Bigger, New Concerns About Pollution By Elizabeth Grossman: Yale Environment 360’. N.p., 2015. e360.yale.edu. Web. 13 Oct. 2015
- Michael Greger, M.D. ‘Dietary Guidelines: Advisory Committee Conflicts Of Interest | Nutritionfacts.Org’. Nutritionfacts.org. N.p., 2015. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
- Mark Hyman, MD. ‘Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It At All Costs – Dr. Mark Hyman’. Dr. Mark Hyman. N.p., 2010. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
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- Saveourbones.com,. ‘Debunking The Milk Myth: Why Milk Is Bad For You And Your Bones’. N.p., 2015. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.