We often get used to hearing that milk is one of the most nutritious foods because of the abundance of essential micronutrients, such as quality proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins A, D, and B groups, and so on. However, milk is commonly fortified with supplements, because all the methods of milk processing, preparation and storage cause significant loss of vitamins: as much as 70% of vitamin C, then follow B1, B6 and B12 (20%), folic acid (5-30%), and other micronutrients.
The dairy industry spends millions of marketing dollars advertising calcium in milk and milk products for “healthy” bones and brains. However, back in 1992, the researchers at Yale University School of Medicine published the report that summarised surveys from sixteen countries, showing that higher fracture rate is highly correlated with higher (animal) protein intake.
A possible mechanism for this effect might be that proteins of animal origin acidify the blood and tissues in the body. As our body does not tolerate the acidic environment, it begins to defend itself by trying to neutralize it. To neutralize the acid, the body removes calcium (which is the base) from the bones, making the bones brittle, increasing the possibility of fractures.
Overeating on food rich in calcium, such as dairy, deregulates the activity of vitamin D in our organism; this vitamin controls the distribution/absorption of calcium in our bones and its excretion via urine. Thus, the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis is multiplied.
Digestibility of milk and lactose intolerance
The heating of milk or eggs leads to the denaturation of proteins, which, in fact, facilitate digestion. Many food sources have their natural inhibitors of digestive enzymes, so by cooking their effect is reversed or diminished.
The digestibility of milk is considered well-tolerated, but in some people can cause some uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating and cramps. This might happen for the following reasons:
1) A partial or complete deficiency of the enzyme lactase (congenital or acquired), which can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps. In this case, it is necessary to substitute milk with fermented dairy products (yogurt, cheese) with lower lactose content.
2) Genetic enzyme deficiency that may cause galactosemia (cataracts, liver damage, mental retardation, and potential death).
Skimmed versus full-fat milk?
Although high-fat raw milk can harbor lots of bacteria and viruses, industrial treatments like pasteurization, ultra-high temperature, and sterilization are used to kill pathogens. However, a large number of microorganisms are thermoduric, which means that they survive pasteurization and slowly continue their reproduction in pasteurized and refrigerated products. The temperature should be below 4ºC to prolong their shelf life.
Skimmed milk is lower in essential fatty acids, omega-3 chains (highly important for brain health), as well as vitamins A and D. However, in cases when gallbladder function is deregulated, consumption of skimmed, or semi-skimmed milk, is generally recommended to avoid pain, bloating and other discomforts.
Is CASEIN in milk responsible for cancer development?
All things considered, let’s look at the scientific knowledge that is completely opposite to what we used to hear about milk and milk products. In the quest for more diverse biomedical literature on the topic, we came across data from the most comprehensive epidemiological research ever, aimed to provide answers on whether and how a particular type of food increases cancer risk and influence its development.
This research, a survey project in China, produced a massive dataset (of 100 000 correlations) and lasted more than 20 years; it involved 880 million Chinese citizens and more than half a million workers. One of the directors of this correlation study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, and author of the book titled “The China Study”, said that this survey “permitted the testing of hypotheses and principles learned in the laboratory”, while “showing how a cause-effect relationship works at the biological level”.
Although Prof. Dr. Campbell clearly and closely links nutrition to health and disease, his concept of nutrition is not confused with that of medication. On the other hand, he says that he is appalled with insufficient knowledge in the nutrition of doctors, and/or their skeptical attitude towards medicinal properties in food. It has all the more impact as they routinely place their own patients on diets.
The most relevant findings (among many) of Dr. Campbell and his fellow researchers, regarding the relationship between nutrition and the disease, can be summarised as follows:
- Plant-based foods have enormous benefits on people’s health
- Casein, cow’s milk protein (as well as other animal proteins), is one of the most potent carcinogens, associated with tumor development.
- Plant proteins DON’T influence cancer promotion.
In his experimental work, Dr. Campbell showed that nutrition plays a huge role not only in prevention but also in controlling the disease. He also emphasizes that, from the early years of childhood throughout the life span, we are exposed to different carcinogens that our immune system usually neutralizes. However, they remain dormant, waiting for the opportunity to grow, that is, for specific dietary substances that would enable (or suppress) their development.
What instigates proliferation and metastasis of dormant cancer cells, according to Dr. Campbell, is bad nutrition. He found casein in milk to be one of the major cancer-promoting factors.
He cites the laboratory findings from an Indian study where 2 groups of rats had been fed a diet that contains potent carcinogen aflatoxin. Carcinogens are known cancer-causing chemicals. Despite their genetic predisposition, the animals did not develop tumors.
To stimulate cancer growth, the experimental animals were additionally given animal protein (casein). The rats from the first group than were dosed with 20% of casein and developed tumor as a result, while those fed only 5% of casein, regardless of aflatoxin, remained cancer-free. This way he showed that the exposure to powerful carcinogens, in this case, aflatoxin, only caused initiation and “awakening” of the cancer cells. To stimulate their further growth into tumors, they had to be fuelled by animal protein, specifically – casein from milk.
Furthermore, changing the diet of the rats who developed tumors, that is, by cutting their regular protein supply, consequently led to tumor shrinkage and remission.
This way Dr. Campbell demonstrated that with adequate nutrition, cancer growth can be suppressed and controlled, even at a relatively advanced stage.
And, correspondingly, that consumption of foods from animal protein greatly influences cancer risk.
At that, from the very beginning of his book, Professor Campbell reminds us of the (right) interpretation of the terminology. Namely, that “correlations” does not mean “causation”. And that “translation” of the term ‘statistical significance’ reads -” likely to be the truth.”
But, sometimes they indeed determine a cause-and-effect relationships.
It is clear that what we eat and how we live can greatly influence the risk of the disease. In that regard, the approach to nutrition should be more attentive and based on a broad range of evidence that plant-based, whole-grain foods are undoubtedly protective against many diseases.
Milk & Milk: Breastfeeding or Formula?
Milk intended for infant consumption is a mixture of various vitamins, minerals, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and other additives. The dry powder form is enriched with all the nutrients that baby needs, but it can hardly substitute the ideally homogenized mother’s milk.
Because human milk contains a variety of bioactive substances such as growth factor, protective immune agents, lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins, and probably many more presently unknown substances, it is clear that breastfeeding is the most nutritionally balanced food for infants.
Numerous studies have shown that children who are breastfed have in the intestinal flora significantly more beneficial bacteria than children fed with the formula, or cow’s milk (after a baby is 12 months old). Also, cow’s milk has a lower content of immune active proteins and vitamins A, C, and EMC, as well as overall lower biological utilization compared to mother’s milk.
Finally, breastfeeding is indispensable for the psychological closeness of mother and child.
In fact, it was never in question: for the best possible starts in life – breastfeed your child! Because the breast is best!
We can do a lot more than just taking care of their physical health in order to secure healthy meals, for us, humans.
We strongly believe that the highest possible standards for animal welfare at industrial dairy farms should be introduced and mandatory both for producers and governments.
Furthermore, the consumers should be made aware of animal maltreatment such as, for example, placing animals in cages so small that they cannot turn around causing muscle atrophy, in order to make their meat softer for the consumption.
These pressuring issues should be addressed urgently, as the efficient way to directly impact consumer buying decisions; they should be encouraged to stop buying from suppliers who do not follow animal welfare assurance standards, in order to halt cruelty and other malpractices widespread across the globe.
Not only the dairy farming is cruel in most of such settings, but it has also the potential to badly damage the environment, increase global warming, impact soil acidification, and cause hypertrophication (excessive growth of algae). The discharge of nitrates and fertilizers into the surface waters, sewage, and further into an aquatic system, cause excessive proliferation of algae and planktons (nitrates stimulates the growth of those organisms). This further leads to a reduction of oxygen in water, necessary for numerous organisms to survive. Additionally, exposure to organic dust, endotoxins, and gases can cause serious respiratory health disorders in farmers and workers.
We strongly believe that consumers would pay a higher price for premium, organic dairy products coming from small dairy farmers, only if they were able to make more informed decisions. To reduce these environmental burdens, we should decrease production, financing, and consumption of low-cost, unhealthy products obtained from abused and miserable animals at large industrial dairy farms.