Milking it – The Deal With Dairy

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Over the past decade, dairy milk has sparked heated debates amongst health fanatics, experts and bloggers everywhere. We are often asked about milk and how healthy it really is, so we wanted to put our thoughts into a blog…

milk

You may have seen particular posts and videos recently about cow’s milk and why it’s bad for our health. Things like; it contains blood and pus, it causes osteoporosis, it should only be for baby cows not humans, it can cause illness and allergies and it is not good for the environment, or the cows.

Sounds like pretty convincing stuff, especially when everyone seems to be going vegan in a bid to be as healthy as possible. So, it is really true?

Well, not entirely, but there is some truth in it…Most of the above depends on things like; what type of milk it is, where it was produced, how the animals were treated, what they were fed on and of course the individual drinking it.

organic cow

For instance, if your milk comes from animals that have been raised in commercial buildings with virtually no sunlight and fed on low quality grain rather than grass (as well as possibly given antibiotics and growth hormones), the milk (and meat) from those animals won’t be as nutritious as it could be and possibly bereft of Vitamin K2. This vitamin is usually only produced when the livestock are able to graze outside on grass, pastures and shrubs as nature intended and can be found in foods like; beef, pork, poultry, egg yolk, dairy, natto (fermented soy beans), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) organ meats and fish eggs. Some of vitamin K2’s roles include; helping to deliver calcium deposits from our arteries safely to our bones where it can be stored, as well as helping vitamins A and D do their jobs properly.

In other words, very important for bone and heart health! This is why vegans have to take extra care for teeth and bones because they could easily lack this important vitamin.

You will find the best quality dairy milks from organically raised, grass and pasture fed cows that have led a stress free life. This milk would be higher in omega 3’s and naturally contain vitamin K2.

milking

As for the blood and pus horror stories, sometimes the animals in a commercial/factory type environment are also milked for too long by the machines so it could pull in plasma cells that wouldn’t be there otherwise. This is unlikely to be a common occurrence on small family farms though. Of course we can also buy branded varieties of milk that has filtered out some of these cells and bacteria.

“I’ve read milk gives us osteoporosis because the countries with the highest rates of the disease also have high consumption of dairy.”

Let’s keep in mind that the studies aren’t stating that all these people in these countries got osteoporosis from consuming milk. It doesn’t consider how this number of people came to have osteoporosis. However the results may signify something. If these countries were all consuming lots of dairy, which is advertised as being good for bone health, surely something is not right? To me, it highlights the fact that if people keep consuming calcium (from any source) without adequate K2 to help clear the arteries of the deposits, we will keep seeing increased numbers of osteoporosis and heart disease.

Many people rely on dairy for their calcium requirements, but as we have learnt, if they are consuming low quality dairy, they may well be deficient in vitamin K2 and not able to metabolize any of the calcium they do intake, which of course can lead to osteoporosis and other health problems. People may be surprised to eat dairy their whole life then suffer with osteoporosis later on because the government forgot to inform us what actually happens when they commercially raise animals for cheap milk and meat. It’s not always the milk that’s the problem it’s the way it is being produced. Local farms have my support and respect, commercial factory farms are quite barbaric in my opinion.

milk and donuts“What about milk being an acidic food, I’ve heard that causes osteoporosis and even cancer?”

When we eat acid-forming food, our bodies work hard to release any excess through the kidneys, skin and lungs, but if we consume too much acidic food regularly and more importantly, not enough alkaline foods, it can put strain on the kidneys and pressure on other cells as they try to rectify the situation. If this happens repeatedly it could easily lead to a host of serious health problems. So yes, too much off anything is not good. The need for balance shows up everywhere.

“Unless you are a baby cow, you shouldn’t drink cow’s milk”

I hear this one a lot! Cow’s milk is genetically made for cows it’s true. However, many of us humans, somewhere along the line, evolved to be able to tolerate cow’s milk. In some parts of the world, cow and goats milk is a vital part of people’s diet and it’s all they know. Of course it can’t be all bad for us if millions of mothers have been relying on it to give to new-born babies via formula milk for so many years. Most infants have the necessary enzymes to break down the sugar and protein in cow’s milk (some don’t) but a huge number of adults don’t because, in nature we don’t need milk as adults. Evolution is pretty cool though right!?

United Nations Photo/Flickr

United Nations Photo/Flickr

Dairy is certainly not needed for optimal health and some say by cutting out all dairy they have never felt better. It does all come down to the individual, what they enjoy and eat already, how much milk they consume and what kind of milk, plus whether they have any health problems and allergies. Cow’s milk is definitely not for everyone.

It shouldn’t be looked at as a poison though, we could survive longer on cow’s milk than any plant milk if that’s all we had to live on because, as we know, it’s a source of calcium, vitamin D and protein, as well as containing other essential nutrients including; magnesium, riboflavin, Vitamin A & B12, Potassium, iodine and zinc (plus K2 if the animal was raised properly) . There are lactose free varieties of cow’s milk available too for those that want dairy but are lactose intolerant.

Whole milk, or full fat is the most nutritionally dense, semi skimmed is less so and skimmed has even less nutritional qualities. Low fat or skimmed dairy products are also often loaded with sugar to make it taste better.

dairy milk If you care about your quality of milk and you don’t want or need to give up dairy, go for pasture and grass fed (it should say on the label) as it will be better for you, as well as being slightly better for the animals and a better quality product nutritionally. You might even like to visit a local farm, maybe with the kids one day, so you can see for yourself where it comes from.

There is also the option of raw, organic cow or goats milk. Raw milk means it hasn’t gone through the process of being pasteurized, so should hold more nutritional benefits. The quality of raw milk depends on all factors above though and comes with some controversy of its own so we will do a post on that separately.

I like to use a variety of milks for different things, coconut or almond milk over cereal and in milkshakes, rice milk in coffee and dairy in hot chocolate. For me sometimes only dairy milk will do, like a dash in scrambled eggs, or when making a cheese sauce. I know this doesn’t stop me from being healthy, so I can enjoy life and concentrate on more important things…

latte

Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings for dairy milk in the comments below!

About the Author Eva George

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