11. TO EAT OR NOT? - MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS
Cow’s milk naturally contain growth hormones for a baby calf. In addition, commercially raised cows contain other contaminants; pesticides, synthetic hormones and antibiotics. In order to boost the milk production, cows are often given rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone, also called BST or Bovine Somatotropin) that act on their mammary glands and can boost milk production. rBGH promotes the ‘Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF)” production in cows. The IGF found in milk is not destroyed by pasteurization and once introduced into the human body, the IGF affects normal hormonal function and it has the potential of stimulating growth in malignant tumors
Should I drink milk?
Cancer researchers have been looking into links between milk consumption and cancer risk for many years. A review published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research in 1997 found that cancer risk paralleled milk consumption in numerous studies1.
Milk then and now
For thousands of years, milk has been an important source of protein, fat, and calcium for many people; those from Europe, India, Mongolia and through to the Middle East. Not only cow’s milk but other animals’ milk like goats, llamas and camels. The milk consumed by these people comes from animals that are grass fed, free roaming and without the modern chemicals being used to spur growth and increase milk production. Cow's milk then was richer in omega-3 fats, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and CLA (a beneficial fatty acid named conjugated linoleic acid. The milk is also a very good source of vitamin B12, iodine, vitamin B2, vitamin D. In short, cow’s milk is a good nutrient source. Milk and milk products made from milk, such as cheese, butter, ghee and yogurt have been consumed ever since suitable animals were domesticated. Until the late 19th century, milk from animals was used as a substitute for human milk for feeding infants. Milk from several ruminant animals was used as a partial substitute for or in addition to human milk; but the milk was consumed infrequently or if at all by older children or adult. From the early 20th century a number of factors were responsible for cow’s milk almost becoming the staple food in the US and some European countries. These are industrialization of cattle farming; the identification of milk as the basic food, especially for children; the development of refrigeration techniques and Ultra-Heat Treated (UHT) packaging. Dried milk is now a common ingredient in many processed food.
Cows grazing on the field
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)
Milk is another controversial area
Milk has been designed by nature to help babies to grow be they human, cows or other animals. As such it contains hormones and nutrients that are tailor made to facilitate the growth. In children, the hormone stimulates bone growth and development of organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. But in older people, the rapid proliferation of cells increases the opportunity for genetic mutations that may lead to cancer.
Do we recommend milk?
That depends and the determining factor would be how the cow was raised - is it commercially raised or grass fed?
The case against commercially raised cow’s milk is as summarised below:
---Various studies show increased risk corresponding to increased consumption of milk .
--- Pesticides and industrial chemicals can often end up in the mammary glands of cows and passed into the milk and milk products.
--- Synthetic hormones such as the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) are commonly used in cows to increase the production of milk. Both the natural and recombinant forms of the hormone stimulate the cow's milk production by increasing levels of another hormone known as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). Cows treated with synthetic growth hormones produce milk especially high in Insulin like Growth Factor (IGF1)2. Once introduced into the human body, these hormones may affect normal hormonal function.
--- Dairy milk contains hormones that have been linked to hormone-dependent cancers of the breast, prostate, testicles and ovary. Scientists believe that cancer cells are sensitive to chemical messenger proteins called growth factors, as well as hormones such as estrogen. The risk of cancer arises when we have abnormally high levels of “unbound” growth factors (or hormones) circulating in our blood caused by the consumption of milk 1.
---Virtually all milk is pasteurized and homogenized, the process which substantially changes the chemical and physical properties of milk and makes it less nutritious.
---Commercially raised cows are predominantly grain fed (GMO corn/ soy fed). As a result they have a very high concentration of Omega 6 fat.
---The casein in cow’s milk is also difficult for humans to digest. Undigested casein molecules are highly allergenic and present serious health problems. Milk allergy is actually one of the most common food allergies in children. Continual immune reactions to dairy protein will also put the body in a state of chronic inflammation. Adverse reactions to cow's milk includes allergy and intolerance. About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products - a problem called lactose intolerance.
We believe that milk is safe to be consumed in moderate amounts and choose:
Ö milk from grass fed, chemical free cows. Look for small local farmers.
Ö Choose milk from countries which have strict rules in regards to the use of rBGH and antibiotics such as New Zealand where the use of rBGH is not allowed in dairy cows and the use of antibiotics is only when the dairy cows are sick.
Ö Limit your milk to 1 glass per day.
Make sure that you are not allergic to milk in the first place.
Note: Commercially produced milk is often pasteurized and homogenized. The purpose of pasteurization is to destroy certain disease-carrying germs and for the prevention of milk turning sour. These are accomplished by keeping the milk at a temperature of 145 degrees to 150 degrees F. for half an hour. An effect of pasteurization is that some vitamins, minerals, and beneficial bacteria or probiotics are lost. Soluble calcium and phosphorus levels decrease by 5%, thiamine (vitamin B1) and cobalamin (vitamin B12 ) levels by 10%, and vitamin C levels by 20% (3). By subjecting the milk to high temperatures, the nutritional constituent of milk is reduced. In view of this there is much harm in drinking commercially produced milk.
Other things that you can do:
- Replace cow's milk with other healthy substitutes such as coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk and goat's milk.
- Have yogurt – the live cultures in the yogurt transform the nutrient content of the yogurt itself. For example, while you're likely to get 5-6 grams of lactose (milk sugar) in one half cup of grass-fed cow's milk, one half cup of yogurt is likely to provide you with only 3-4 grams due to the breakdown of lactose by live bacteria in the yogurt.
Eat Yogurt - your source of probiotics
Yogurt is an excellent source of high-quality protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. Yogurt is made by adding a starter culture of bacteria to milk that acts on the milk's sugar lactose. For people who cannot tolerate milk, the live active cultures in yogurt help to break down the lactose into glucose and galactose, two sugars that are easily absorbed by lactose-intolerant persons. During the fermentation process a portion of the glucose is also converted to lactic acids which in turn coagulate the milk protein resulting in the thick, creamy and tangy flavor of yogurt.
Our body needs to have a healthy amount of ''good'' bacteria in the digestive tract to maintain a normal gastrointestinal and immune system function, and many yogurts are made using these active, good bacteria( Lactobacillus). About 70 percent of a person’s immune system is in the gut; hence healthy bacteria, such as the probiotics found in healthy yogurt, are the gut’s first line of defense. These probiotics can help maintain the balance of bacteria necessary for a healthy digestive system. These intestinal-friendly bacteria have been shown to have anti-cancer properties by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and reducing the conversion of bile acids into carcinogens. Yogurt can also aid with digestion, prevent constipation and regulate your bowel movements.
Points to note:
- For your yogurt to have this positive effect, the bacteria must be ‘alive’ and contain at least one billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of live cultures. Some common bacteria are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidus.
- The nutrient composition of yogurt is based on the nutrient composition of the milk from which it is derived. Go for the organic, untreated milk.
- Buy your yogurt from the local Indian grocers or restaurant that make yogurt from locally grown cows.
- Avoid additives in your yogurt. This could be in the form of sweeteners, sugar, colors, flavors, preservatives and other ingredients added to enhance the flavor.
- If you want to add flavors to your yogurt use whole foods, such as fresh fruits, fresh juices, raisins etc.
A note on Bovine growth hormone (BGH) and Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)
The human form of growth hormone, called somatotropin, is made by the pituitary gland. It promotes growth and cell replication. Bovine growth hormone (BGH), also known as bovine somatotropin (BST) is the natural form of this hormone in cattle. Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) refers to synthetic bovine growth hormone that is made in a lab using genetic technology. The Food and Drug Administration, US (FDA) has ruled that rBGH is harmless to people and the usage is not banned in the United States. However, the use of rBGH is banned in Canada, parts of the European Union, Australia and New Zealand.
- World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington, D.C., 1997, p. 461
3. Wilson, G. S. (1943), "The Pasteurization of Milk", British Medical Journal 1 (4286): 261, doi:10.1136/bmj.1.4286.261, PMC 2282302, PMID 20784713