The following article appeared in the BCA Chronicle November 2016
‘Milk’s Gotta Lotta Bottle’. That was the Milk Marketing Board’s iconic marketing slogan back in 1982. And it reinforced what every good mother across the nation knew as a generational certainty, and were telling their own children: milk, that most natural of superfoods, is good for your bones, good for your teeth and will boost your health and fitness. Like brushing your teeth, it was an accepted, unquestionable fact. But there’s not a shred of truth in it.
In recent years, this so-called wonder-liquid has come under increasing scrutiny, and many studies, both in the UK and elsewhere have put these claims for the health benefits of drinking milk under the microscope. There is now a large body of evidence that clearly shows that all of those accepted certainties, were in fact, myths. Not only does milk cause some diseases, it is actually utterly useless in preventing those for which it is traditionally reported as being a panacea.
In 2014, the British Medical Journal reported a study in which it was shown that women who drank two and a half or more glasses of milk a day had a higher bone fracture risk than those who drank one or less glasses a day. The reason is simple, as the anti-milk, ‘Save Our Bones’ campaign has shown: whilst milk is indeed packed with calcium, it’s of a kind that the human body simply cannot absorb, especially when it is pasteurised. The process of pasteurisation makes the calcium unabsorbable. Ironically, in fact, milk has been shown to increase calcium loss from the bones, as the body draws on the bone’s own calcium stores to neutralise the acidifying effects of the milk on the body.
According to Amy Lanou, the nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.:
“The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets.”
Osteoporosis is a condition caused by, amongst other things, a lack of calcium in the bones, causing them to become brittle. Not surprising then, the social group with the highest rate of osteoporosis are dairy farmers (In a report by The Natural Hygiene Society).
If the evidence for the glaring uselessness of milk as a source of calcium is not enough, then perhaps the fact that it is also a reported factor in the promotion of a catalogue of other health problems, will help dismantle the milk myth.
A 1992 report in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirmed that milk proteins promote diabetes by damaging the body’s ability to produce insulin. And in other major studies it has been suggested that there is a link between milk consumption and multiple sclerosis and breast, ovarian and prostate cancer (The Harvard School of Public Health and University of Illinois School of Public Health, amongst others). T Colin Campbell; Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, made this damning observation in 2000:
“cows’ milk protein may be the single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are exposed”.
The anti-milk lobby has claimed that milk and its derivatives are responsible for, or aggravate rheumatoid arthritis, colic, acne, heart disease, asthma, and lymphoma. The scientific evidence against milk is stacking up, despite the best efforts of the Milk Marketing Board and its equivalents around the world, to hide or deny this evidence. Milk is no longer regarded as the universal superfood it was once thought to be. Not only does milk contain unabsorbable calcium, but it also contains lactose sugar, animal growth hormones, human administered drugs, contaminants and a substantial amount of fat and cholesterol.
But what can you do to replace all that milk in your diet? How are you going to get your daily intake of calcium and protein?
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (as well as The Vegetarian and Vegan Societies), the best sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables and legumes. Spring greens, kale, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli are excellent sources. There are more than a 100 milligrams of calcium in a plate of humble baked beans. Chickpeas, tofu and other bean and bean-derived products are also rich in calcium. Additionally, they contain magnesium, which the body uses in conjunction with calcium to build bone density.
Fortified plant milks, such as soya, rice, and almond milks are also rich sources of calcium, along with white flour, oranges, figs, blackstrap molasses, nuts, seeds and dried fruits.
According to the Vegan Society, the best sources of protein are peas, beans (aduki, blackeye, chickpeas, kidney beans), lentils, soya products such as tofu and soya milk, nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts, pistachios), and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame). Add to that list, wheat, oats, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, pasta, and bread.
Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital followed more than 130,000 people for 36 years, monitoring their diet, lifestyle, illness and mortality and concluded that switching from just a small amount of animal protein (which includes milk) to the likes of nuts and beans, significantly cut their risk of an early death.
Milk is all washed up. Like cigarettes, which were also once thought of as being healthy and beneficial, the duplicitous claims for the supposed health benefits of milk have been exposed. The increasing evidence is damning.
Milk is a product of nature, and of course is hugely beneficial…if you are a baby cow. That is the creature that it’s designed for, after all:
“Everything in that white liquid – the hormones, the lipids, the proteins, the sodium, the growth factors…are all there to start that calf growing into a great big cow…Whether you pour it on your cereal, churn it into butter, curdle it into yogurt, ferment it into cheese, or add sugar and freeze it to make ice cream… It’s baby calf growth fluid!” (Dr Michael Klaper)
Humans are the only species that takes the breast milk from one species to feed another: our own. For the sake of your own health, and that of your children, it is time to quit this bovine-elixir, and turn to food products that we are actually designed to eat, and in the process, live a happier, healthier life.