Would you agree if I said ‘milk is bad for you?’ Unless you have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance or have a natural aversion for milk, why would you like to trust that statement, right? Having grown up all these years on the idea that milk is one of the richest vegan sources of protein and calcium, it could seem bizarre to break away from this perception.
Conventional wisdom conceded over generations hold that milk is good for health and an essential food source, especially for growing children. Contrary to our belief and age old wisdom, recent studies ironically reveal the destructive qualities of milk and its ill effects on human body along with the harm milk production causes to animals and the environment.
A study was published in the British Medical Journal in 2013, specifically intended to determine the correlation between high consumption of milk and mortality and fractures in both men and women. The peer reviewed journal coughed up some myth breaking facts around milk. Milk and its products were found to be among the primary factors contributing to innumerable diseases, amounting to $ 2 billion. It said that milk causes allergies, constipation, bloating, inflammation, obesity, heart diseases, osteoporosis and cancer.
The study was piloted across 3 different locations in Sweden and used data from two large cohorts. One consisted 61,433 women aged approximately 39-74 years old and the other with 45,339 men aged between 45-79 years. The study used “multi-variable survival models that were applied to determine the association between milk consumption and time to mortality and fracture.” The research showed that for every glass of milk consumed by women, no reduction was observed in the fracture risk. In fact, the study concluded that “milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women, and in another cohort of men and with higher fracture incidence in women.”
Several studies, especially by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001 have inferred that “women who obtain calcium from animal proteins are around 3.7 times prone to fractures than those who use plant sources.” It is enumerated that plant based proteins provoke release of lesser amounts of acid, where an acidified organism restores itself by extracting calcium from the bones leading to bone loss. This phenomenon occurs in women during menopause. Paradoxical to such findings, people suffering from calcium deficiency are prescribed milk as a source of calcium. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1979, an individual consuming 1400mg of calcium per day while receiving a large amount of protein simultaneously is bound to lose up to 4% of their bone mass each year.
Another dimension of the study revealed that dairy products are rich in fat and cholesterol and the cholesterol present in them is oxidized owing to its contact with air during the process of milk production. This makes it increasingly harmful as compared to regular cholesterol as free radicals are formed in the oxidation of fats adding up to bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol as you may know contributes to sclerotic plaques in the arteries increasing risk of heart attack and stroke. The free radicals on the other hand can cause premature ageing and cancer.
The final facet of the study exhibited milk as an excellent carrier of infections caused by the fat in the milk. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine 1985; 312, before pasteurization of milk, a meagre amount of pathogenic bacteria is suppressed by lactic bacteria. However, after pasteurization, the ‘good’ bacteria are destroyed, while the pathogenic ones are not. The absence of the natural rival leads to breeding of the pathogen causing the milk to be contaminated with salmonella and staphylococci. Researchers found that infant mortality up to nine months of age was recorded 8.5% in countries where babies were given cow’s milk as opposed to 0.15% in countries where it was not used. Diseases and ailments associated with cow’s milk included chronic fatigue, hyperactivity, diarrhea, allergies, asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, acne as well as lowered IQ.
If you are still not convinced that milk has the potential to silently kill you, let’s see what Dr.N.K.Sharma, Chairman & Founder of Reiki Healing Foundation communicated to the world in his book, “Milk: A Silent Killer.” His work was originally published in 1987 and revised in 2013. He says that, “Since my childhood I have been a lover of milk and been a sufferer too. I used to do medicines and yoga and never doubted why my ailing condition was not being cured.” Dr. Sharma writes that a large amount of milk over several years can lead to cancer as the magnesium it contains can slowly get deposited in the human body. The distinguished naturopath reiterates his belief stating that “Disease is not natural, health is natural state of body; medicines should not become a lifestyle and it should be treated as a medicine only. We have to become the message. We know what is the right thing to do, we will certainly benefit from it later. We have been brought up to believe milk is good, it is high time for it to change.”
While Dr. N.K. Sharma asks people to break the biggest myth surrounding human health, he highlights the benefits of breast milk and says that no animals face milk problem or require exchanging mothers for milk. “As they live naturally, they follow their natural instinct. They do not deviate from their original food. They live abiding by the Nature’s law.” However, we cannot compare human beings with other animals as we have supremely developed brains. He says that, “pressures of civilisation, stresses of life, denatured food, and sedentary lifestyle, today’s woman is losing her milk. Though stress is a part of life for the civilised world as well as the wild, human mothers are the most unfortunate of all species on earth, because their breasts are dry. They deprive their children of their birthright – milk, warmth, and love. It is shameful, and a stigma on the pious word ‘mother.” In fact, even the World Health Organization has been promoting the significance of breast milk for infants as compared to any other substitute. I personally feel that the author’s words are a little too harsh on mothers who are medically challenged and unable to produce or feed milk. Well, we’ll leave that for another spectrum of debate.
So if milk is bad, then are all other dairy products too harmful? There are lakhs of people worldwide who follow veganism which constitutes rejection of all animal produce including milk and honey. As several studies and Dr. Sharma’s meticulously researched work challenges the intake of animal milk as detrimental to human health, are you ready to give up your glass yet?
Article by Rochita.