Do you love cheese? Go crazy for ice cream or frozen yogurt? Do you start every day with a yogurt or your bowl of cereal with milk? So do many Americans. So why would anyone want to give up dairy?
We live in a culture where many of our ideas of what’s good for us come from our parents, TV, advertising, product packaging, and our government (Milk…it does a body good). Many of us grew up drinking milk in our childhoods as our parents were taught that milk was the best source of calcium which was good for our bones and development. Well, that’s true. However, it’s not the only source and there are plenty of reasons why cow’s milk and products made from it can be potentially harmful to your health.
Female mammals in the wild nourish their babies with their own milk and stop after a brief period of growth. After this period, young mammals never show any interest in milk or have access to it. Humans, however, are the only mammals who continue to consume milk into adulthood. The fact of the matter is…we don’t need dairy. While I’m not saying that you have to give up dairy products, it is worth mentioning that dairy is not an essential part of the human diet. Did you know that adults in most parts of the world do not consume cow’s milk? Most of them (about 75 percent) can’t because they’re lactose intolerant which means that they lack the digestive enzymes the body needs to digest dairy.
Most Americans consume too much dairy. Here are some reasons to decrease or limit dairy products in your diet:
1. Dairy products, especially ice cream and cheese, are loaded with fat and cholesterol, as well as sugar which can lead to clogged arteries, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. The Harvard School of Public Health even links a possible increase risk of ovarian and prostate cancer in those who consumer 3 or more cups of milk/dairy products per day (which, by the way, is what our government suggests…read my post on “How has the government affected the way you eat – Take Control of your diet, nutrition, and health“.
2. Modern methods of dairy processing are extremely concerning. The typical cow produces milk for about 300 days after giving birth. In an attempt keep up dairy production levels, the dairy industry uses bovine growth hormone (BST), which is a controversial, genetically-engineered growth hormone which is injected into cows to increase milk production. The affects of BST are also controversial as manufacturers claim the hormone has no adverse effects on humans, but many experts disagree. One thing to note: most of the European countries and Canada have banned its use.
In order to maximize milk production, cows are kept pregnant most of their lives on both commercial AND organic farms. During pregnancy, cow’s hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, are extremely high and these hormones are present in their milk. It’s been shown that cow’ milk, both regular and organic, contains 59 active hormones. Hmmm.
3) Eat/Drink organic dairy products, if you must have it. But, educate yourself on where your dairy comes from. The organic cow’s natural diet contains no added hormones, chemicals, or antibiotics. They also contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and E, and antioxidants. Unfortunately though, some dairies, like Horizon Organic Dairy, the largest US supplier of organic milk which is owned by Dean Foods, the largest processor and distributor of milk in the US, have come into much controversy. Horizon has been accused of not enforcing the standards which are necessary to be labeled organic. Furthermore, they have been accused of abusing and manipulating organic labeling criteria, misrepresenting their product, and misleading their health-conscious consumers into buying it.
4) Contrary to popular belief, eating/drinking dairy products does NOT prevent osteoporosis. Many studies have demonstrated that countries with the highest intake of dairy (U.S., Sweden, and Holland) have the highest incidence of osteoporosis and bone fractures, while countries with the lowest dairy intake (Japan and South Africa), have the lowest rates of osteoporosis and bone fractures. A study conducted by Harvard University followed 78,000 women during a 12-year period and found that those who consumed the most dairy broke more bones than those who rarely consumer dairy. Healthy bones need calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, copper, zinc, manganese, and other vitamins and minerals. An excess of calcium without these other vitamins and minerals can actually increase the likelihood of fracture. Vegetables such as collard greens, kale, bok choy and sea vegetables contain high amounts of calcium, as well as these other vitamins and minerals. Eating these vegetables regularly can provide the body with the essential calcium it needs without the negative side effects of dairy.
5) Dairy products have been linked as a cause or contributing factor to arthritis. Some experts believe that malabsorption of milk or dairy products due to the pasteurization process could be the cause. The enzymes in milk are often destroyed by the heat in the pasteurization process.
6) Dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which is a known cancer promoter. IGF-1 is a key factor in the rapid growth and proliferation of breast, prostate, and colon cancers and has been suspected to promote all other cancers as well.
7) Chemicals, chemicals, and more chemicals. Cheese is one of the dairy products that has gone down the nasty path of chemical adulteration. Processed cheese is little more than a complex of chemicals. It is artificially thickened, stabilized, preserved, flavored, and colored. Methyl cellulose is a thickener used in processed cheese; by the way, it is also used in making cosmetics and adhesives. Sodium carboxymethyl, a stabilizer, is also used in certain paints and printing inks. Even the cheese wrappers are treated which can seep into the cheese. Oh, and if you still want your cheese, here’s another interesting fact. Each bite of hard cheese contains 10 times whatever is contained in milk (hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, dioxins) since it takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese. Love ice cream? Each bite of ice cream contains 12 times the chemicals, pesticides, and antibiotics.
8) Dairy products have been shown to be a major contributing factor to the following ailments: allergies, sinus problems, post-nasal drip, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, ear infections, menstrual pain, asthma, brain fog, mucus, Type 1 diabetes, chronic constipation, and anemia (in children).
9) Eating dairy products can lead to inflammation, specifically in your gut. Dairy products increase mucus production in the digestive system. This mucus in the intestines mixes with fiberless white flour (all of that yummy processed food) which produces a glue-like buildup in your intestinal wall. Layer after layer of gluey feces builds up over years, forming a rough, rubbery substance which coats the corners of the intestinal tract. Studies have shown that the accumulation of hardened feces badly deforms the intestines. Autopsies have shown that an average male has seven to nine pounds of hardened feces within his intestine. ***GROSS*** This obstruction causes constipation, a reduction in the absorption of nutrients through the intestinal wall, and is a breeding ground for parasites. The U.S. Health & Human Services admitted that over 90% of Americans are walking around with partly clogged colons (just writing this makes me want to run and get a colonic). Good health is dependent on a healthy and clean colon.
10) Eating dairy products can affect your fertility. The hormones in dairy products can disrupt your own hormonal balance. Dairy has been linked to both female AND male infertility. Studies have shown that there are more concentrated pesticides in cheese than in non-organically grown fruits and vegetables. Excess estrogen and pesticide exposure have been linked to PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)and Endometriosis. Also, mucus builds up in the reproductive system due to dairy consumption. Excessive mucus in the reproductive system caused by dairy consumption can make the journey of sperm through the uterus and fallopian tubes more difficult. So, if you’re interested in having kids, you may want to eliminate or decrease your dairy consumption.
I know, I know. Many of us have a childhood attachment or love of milk and its by-products. However, there are many other great alternatives such as Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Oat Milk, and Coconut Milk and the products derived from these milks. If you’re looking to increase your calcium intake, try sesame seeds, collard greens, kale, almonds, parsley, pistachios, salmon, watercress, chickpeas, figs, and beans.
Many people don’t associate dairy products negatively until they cut them out of their diets and see how much better they feel. When they realize how much more energy they have or have fewer allergies or less sinus pressure, they become converts immediately. Try experimenting with cutting out dairy for 2 weeks and take notice of how you feel. Add it back in and see the difference. You may be surprised! Milk does NOT do a body good!