this post is about changing people’s attitudes about living lacto-free. The perception that it’s something your lumbered with, a victim of inferior digestive powers… That isn’t how I feel about living milk and dair y free here’s why 🙂
We see milk and other dairy products as a part of a normal human diet. We accept it as we accept bread, meat and fruit. Without hesitation, because we were raised to do so. Dairy is a part of the food pyramid and has a big chunk of it. We know that some dairy products are not really healthy (like cheese) yet still we find reasons to eat them regularly. Probably we eat cheese more often than we eat an apple. Is that a concern? Is dairy even healthy? Is it helpful or is it harmful?
We are used to see dairy products everywhere, we accepted them as a food source without hesitation – even though mammal species don’t usually use another species’ milk as a food source. In human history dairy is the “newest” food source (9.000 B.C). Approx 95% of human evolution was free from dairy consumption.
tell the story milk….
Casein, the main (80%) protein in milk (human milk has between 20-45% casein) was found to promote liver cancer in adult mice. Irrespective of this modest disease concern, it puts a lot of pressure on our digestion remember cows milk was designed for calves who have four stomachs compared to our one!
Adult humans are not supposed to drink milk, most mammals loose the capacity of digesting milk after they wean off. Also, cows that produce milk are not a special species designed to make milk (some people would think so), but are bred in order to produce more milk. As any mammal, cows start to produce milk after they gave birth to a baby calf. The milk is supposed to help the calf grow up, as much as our mother’s milk helps us to grow up.Humans are the only species that rely on another species’ lactation process. It is therefore improbable that human species would develop any deficiency while not consuming dairy.
EVOLUTIONARY POINT OF VIEW
As previously stated, historically, humans were unable to feed on cows milk because they were unable to digest lactose in adulthood. The reason why this changed is a single mutation that happened 7.500 years ago in Europe. This mutation provided a major selective advantage. We can be eternally grateful to cows, because they enabled our ancestors to survive and reproduce. Historically, dairy is a major contributor to human survival, however, this provides no evidence that dairy is healthy or necessary in any way today.
Here are nutrition facts for cows milk with 3,25% fat (100g):
3,2 g protein
3,25 g fat
5,3 g sugar (carbohydrates)
88,2 g water
In the rest of 0,05 g you can find calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium and sodium. It also has some vitamin D, some B12 and riboflavin. It also has cholesterol.
So water is beneficial to us, true, but we can get it in the pure form! Carbohydrates are quite high as are cholesterol levels (relatively goats milk is much healthier)
In comparison, human milk has only 1 g of protein per 100 g, 7 g of sugar and 4,4 g of fat. It also has a lot of vitamin C and A, but not much else. You can figure out yourself that calves probably have different needs than humans to grow. (Differences exist in nutritional values between skim and full fat… Some vitamins are fat solvable abut not water soluble so in skim milk the vitamins lose important value to our body)
Protein is important because it’s a resource our body needs in cellular structure, enzymes, muscular tissue and so on. Proteins are long links of amino acids and our bodies can produce 12 out of 21. We must get the remaining 9 from food. Animal protein is similar to our protein and it has all of the essential amino acids in right amounts, plant protein on the other hand usually lack the completeness of amino acids. Plants can provide all 9 essential amino acids but not in the exact needed amounts to synthesise proteins. this is not necessarily bad as amino acids can be stored and wait to reach the “right amounts”.
Plant protein slow down our synthesis while animal protein makes our metabolism work at full speed…Fast metabolism is connected with exposure to carcinogens, may cause error in DNA duplication. A suggestible cancer connection.
However Milk is a good source of protein, consisting of about 20 percent whey and 80 percent casein. Whey is a fast digesting protein that contributes to a large increase in plasma amino acid levels, in particular leucine, which leads to quick and short increase in protein synthesis. Casein, on the other hand, is a slow release. This property of casein allows for a slow and sustained release of amino acids into the blood stream, providing better utilization for up to several hours.
BUT Casein in milk breaks down into casomorhins, which are linked to psychiatric problems (autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder). Casomorphins also stimulate the mu-opioid receptor which causes multiple issues in the brain. Casomorphins stimulate histamine release which impairs your immune system and worsens you allergies and causes acne flairups. Casomorphins are mildly sedating, which is the science behind why people used to drink milk before bedtime. Being sedated, even marginally is not a great thing.
Not forgetting the 60+hormones in milk that can upset our hormonal balance, a huge surge in insulin when we consume milk, Casein in milk binds to antioxidants and prevents them from being effective so milk can reduce or nullify many of the positive benefits of green tea, blueberries, other fruits, and vegetables! NOOOO!
But don’t we need milk because of calcium? World statistic shows that we may be wrong about the absorption of calcium from milk. Strong bones are not related to milk drinking habits: American woman consume the most calcium in the world but have high levels of osteoporosis… Whereas in China most of their calcium comes from plant based foods and osteoporosis isn’t prevalent.
One explanation for this is pH balance… in our body, milk reacts as an acid and our body has to maintain a certain pH level in the organs, so it has to use our body’s buffer mechanisms to neutralize it. Minerals are the source of neutralizationand our bones are the bank of minerals (especially phosphorus and calcium). But before we jump to any conclusions; a healthy individual with a balanced diet consumes enough alkaline food (food that has lots of minerals) to neutralize that acid. If that doesn’t happen we have all sorts of other buffers, the bone bank is the last stop. However, human capacity to store calcium in the bones is limited to the first 25 – 30 years of one’s life. After that, no more deposits in the bank, only loans without collateral. Milk is probably a cause for osteoporosis in old age rather than a cure.
Plant based calcium sources are easy to get hold of without the risk posed above. Famously broccoli offers high values of calcium as does seaweeds such as kelp, wakameand hijiki; nuts and seeds like almonds, hazelnuts, sesame, and pistachio; blackstrap molasses; beans (especially soy beans); figs; quinoa; okra; rutabaga; dandelion leaves; and kale. Or less famously, ground egg shell in to a fine powder could be stirred into a glass of water!
A book that was published this year by Dr. Robert H. Lustig (Fat chance) talks about another problem. Our liver is the organ that produces energy from food and has several mechanisms for digesting different food groups. In plain words, the main difference is between fat and carbohydrate(OH) digestion. Consumed separately (or fat or OH) our liver has no problems with metabolizing one or the other. But if we eat too much of both, we overburden our liver. If we eat enough of one or the other, we’re healthy and strong. Food that contains fat and protein is meat. Foods that contains OH are grains, fruit and vegetables (some of them contain fat, like avocado but at the same time have very little OH). So if we eat vegan or if we eat by Atkins diet (mostly meat) we have equally good chances to stay healthy (in terms of obesity related diseases). Problems occur when we mix both fats and OH in our meals (This is also prohibited in the diet by Montignac). Our livers become overburdened and if we practice it often and regularly, we tend to risk getting cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea and so on.
Now to get back to my point, milk is one of the rarest foods that contains both fat and OH.
Everything I stated above may sound more alarming if you are a vegetarian. Why?
1.) Dairy products are as toxic as meat and processed foods.
2.) Diary has no beneficial nutrients for adult humans. There are plenty other sources for calcium and vitamin D (which we can store, by the way).
3.) Concerning animal rights and animal exploitation. Dairy cattle may be getting the same treatment as meat cattle. To mention some; living in poor conditions, separation at birth, poor nutrition, antibiotics, constant pregnancy, often disposing of male calves straight after birth, culling of cows once productive life slows. Not to paint all with the same tar brush but on the shelves of the supermarket I don’t know the ethics of that particular milk production.
4.) Vegetarian dishes more often than not contain dairy products, making the dish harder for our liver to digest. Cream and cheese contain lots of fat and combined with vegetables that contain OH, your vegetarian diet can bring you more problems than it can solve.
It’s a very subjective case to make. In India cows are revered and eating them impermissible to most, however they do consume milk, ghee/butter and curd /yoghurt.
My verdict, based on my current knowledge, is that if something is unnatural and wrong, it’s milk consumption. All other milk products (cheese, cream, butter,…) included. It’s not particularly ethical or healthy… At least not as healthy as some organizations want us to think.
But then what to replace it with?? Another post to come on the options!
*by definition of omni/carni/herbi-vores, there is no species that is omni or carni-vore that drinks other specie’s milk, so humans are a new sort of dairy-vores as dairy doesn’t fit in that equation. By eating eggs species are defined as omnivores.
So there. I am milk free and liberated and happy… Time for a celebratory cup of almond milk! *not written with an agenda to turn people off drinking milk if it’s a yummy part of their diet!