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Milk has long been considered a healthy staple of the American diet. It has been lauded as a delicious way to build strong bones, maintain a healthy weight, and support overall wellness. This story—largely propagated by the American Dairy Board—has been swallowed hook, line, and sinker by the American public. The USDA Marketing Service reports that at least 56% of Americans consume between two to five glasses of milk daily, and that 10% consume a gallon or more every single day.[1]

Now experts warn that milk consumption may actually contribute to a variety of health problems, including the very problems it’s supposed to help prevent. Let’s take a look at the unfortunate truth about milk and its many health risks.

How the dairy industry’s credibility crumbled

The notion that milk builds strong bones (and is therefore a healthy dietary choice) is a decades-old trope. But as it turns out, when subjected to the scrutiny of researchers, this claim simply doesn’t hold up.

Confidence in the dairy industry’s claims began to erode with the 1997 publication of the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 77,000 women for twelve years. The researchers reported that milk conferred so protective or preventative effect against skeletal fractures, even in the group of women with the highest milk consumption.[2]

Subsequent research further suggests that calcium (the main nutrient in milk credited with bone-building properties) is “unlikely to boost bone health or prevent fractures.”[3] We now know that calcium in and of itself is not sufficient to preserve skeletal integrity and prevent conditions like osteoporosis. In fact, as we discussed in our article about vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 utilization, calcium can cause as many problems as it fixes, if it’s not implemented properly.

Finally, in 2012, a study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine went a decisive step further by reporting that milk consumption can actually increase the risk of bone fractures. The study tracked incidences of bone fracture in nearly 7,000 children, and found that active children who consumed the most milk experienced more fractures than children who consumed less milk.[4]

Once confidence in the dairy industry was sufficiently shaken, researchers and regulators deepened their scrutiny. In 2005, the FTC challenged the industry’s claim that milk consumption can cause weight loss, to which the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board responded by discontinuing all relevant advertising and marketing.

False weight loss and bone strengthening claims are the tip of iceberg, though—researchers have uncovered many more worrisome health risks that should make you think twice about milk consumption.

Milk’s many toxicities

Did you know that milk is the #2 most prevalent allergy in the United States, second only to peanuts?[5] Epidemiological studies have shown that nearly 20% of all children are allergic to milk (i.e. allergic to casein, a protein in milk).[6] Other findings suggest that at least 65% of the entire human population (and up to 90% of people from specific ethnic groups) are lactose-intolerant.[7]

Taken together, these data suggest a less-than-rosy picture of milk’s effects on the human body. These facts alone would be enough to indicate that milk should be approached conservatively, rather than glorified as a health food. But this natural incompatibility between human biology and milk is only the beginning of the story.

For those able to tolerate both casein and lactose, raw, organic, grass-finished milk can be a healthful (or at least not harmful) dietary addition. Raw milk is exceedingly difficult to source, though—it’s actually still illegal to sell in most states. And needless to say, milk that meets the further qualifications of organic and grass-finished (i.e. sourced from cows who are exclusively grass-fed throughout the lives) is quite rare.

Store-bought milk bears little resemblance to this more healthful variety.

For starters, conventional milk is far more common than organic milk. Conventionally raised cows are kept in deplorable conditions, fed diets of toxic grains, and treated with growth hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals. Residues of hormones, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and even radionuclides have been found in store-bought milk.[8]

To add insult to injury, the legally required process of pasteurization ensure that milk is stripped of all its beneficial nutrients and probiotic components.

Given this long list of potential toxicities, it should come as no surprise that osteoporosis and bone fractures aren’t the only health risks associated with milk consumption. For example, recent studies have provided data suggesting that men who consume over 2,000 milligrams of calcium daily (i.e. men who consume a lot of milk) are nearly twice as likely to develop prostate cancer.[9] A subsequent meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition clarified and confirmed the finding by concluding that “high intakes of dairy products…may increase total prostate cancer risk.”[10]

Researchers are only just beginning to reexamine the risks and limitations of milk consumption. Many experts suggest links with various ailments and diseases, including diarrhea, cramps, gas, bloating, anemia, gastrointestinal bleeding, acne, rashes, atherosclerosis, type II diabetes, arthritis, leukemia, and infertility.

The bottom line is that you should consider minimizing your consumption of dairy products, and whenever possible, seek out raw, organic milk or non-dairy alternatives.


References

[1] https://www.statisticbrain.com/milk-consumption-statistics/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9224182

[3] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150929230044.htm

[4] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/1149502

[5] https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/common-food-allergies#milk

[6] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/Supplement_1/S17.2

[7] https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/lactose-intolerance

[8] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf60082a606

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17450530

[10] https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/101/1/87/4564339

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Nearly 23% of all Americans (an estimated 54.4 million people) suffer from maladies that cause frequent joint pain, mainly arthritis (of which osteoarthritis is the most common form), rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.[1]

And these numbers don’t even account for those who haven’t seen a doctor about their pain or haven’t received an official diagnosis.

For many years, conventional arthritis experts and foundations insisted that joint pain is simply a part of aging, and that it cannot be reversed or cured. Furthermore, they held that dietary modifications could not be reliably used to treat the condition or to ease symptoms.

Thankfully, this way of thinking has now been largely overturned.

The science of “reversing” arthritis and other pain-inducing conditions is still hotly contested. One point about which everyone agrees, though, is that the experience of joint pain is a product of inflammation.

It stands to reason, then, that if you control inflammation, you control joint pain. And without a doubt, the safest, most powerful, and most consistent way to control inflammation in the body is through diet.

Foods, not pills

If you personally struggle with joint pain, you may have used pharmaceutical methods for controlling pain, such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, or even prescription painkillers. You may have been told that these drugs were your only real hope for finding relief.

Though lifestyle modifications are now considered acceptable treatments for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, mainstream medicine still relies much too heavily on pain medications.

Even over-the-counter NSAIDs carry serious risks, including gastrointestinal damage,[2] anemia,[3] miscarriage,[4] DNA damage,[5] hearing loss,[6] hypertension,[7] and sudden cardiac arrest. Needless to say, prescription painkillers are even worse, and are responsible for an epidemic of debilitating opioid addiction.

An increasing number of both patients and physicians are discovering that the risks of painkillers don’t justify their results—and that consuming an anti-inflammatory diet is a far wiser path.

This truth is a rather inconvenient one, however—after all, it seems much easier to take a pill than to carry out an entire lifestyle overhaul. This is especially true when it comes to food, since eating an anti-inflammatory diet requires saying goodbye to a number of foods beloved to Americans.

For example, dairy products are a big no-no.

Got joint pain? Try cutting out milk and cheese…

The thought of tossing out milk and cheese might sound pretty challenging. Dairy products (especially cheese) can actually have addictive properties, so if it’s been on your personal menu for long, you’re probably hesitant to let it go.

This finding comes from a research team at the University of Michigan, who found that the casein in cheese binds to opioid receptors in the brain. The data was overblown by many news outlets, who reported that “cheese is just like crack,” but researchers did find that cheese and addictive drugs trigger similar changes in brain circuitry.[8]

A wealth of research suggests that these foods just aren’t worth their deliciousness, though. We discussed in past articles how milk is linked with a wide array of health problems, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that joint pain tops the list.

The fact of the matter is that pasteurized and processed dairy products are very difficult for your body to process—the massive inflammation they trigger is a clear sign that your body treats them like it would a harmful foreign agent.

But what about the widely believed notion that milk builds strong bones? New research has discovered that quite the opposite is true. While milk technically contains calcium, dairy consumption nevertheless has been correlated with bone weakness and fractures. Over the course of this study, researchers also correlated milk consumption with an overall increased risk of mortality.[9]

Furthermore, dairy consumption has been linked with leaky gut syndrome, during which toxins leak into the bloodstream and trigger systemic inflammation response. Joint pain is therefore commonly associated with this condition. A dairy-free (and gluten-free) diet has been shown to significantly improve both leaky gut syndrome and joint pain.[10]

How to quit dairy

Here’s the good news: it’s not as difficult as it seems. If you can make it just a week or so, your brain circuitry will begin to reset, and you won’t crave milk and cheese nearly as acutely.

And besides, there’s a wealth of vegan milk and cheese substitutes available, plenty of which are incredibly delicious (vegan products have come a long way). For example, learn how to make your own almond milk, and check out this new book about how to make vegan cheeses that are indistinguishable from their inflammatory counterparts.

Many people experience dramatically reduced joint pain (as well as many other benefits) after cutting out dairy products—try it for a few weeks and see if it works for you.

 


References

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm

[2] http://pmj.bmj.com/content/77/904/82

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12561250

[4] http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d5769

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22283434

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20193831

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18622250

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334652/

[9] http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g6015

[10] https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/Leaky-Gut.cfm

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milk_chemicals

It seems that the conventional food industry’s propaganda machine has stooped to a new low. According to their marketing campaigns, milk is now a superfood.

They’ve been singing the “milk does a body good” song for some time now. Through commercials and billboards, milk is touted not just as a tasty and enjoyable beverage, but also a bone-building staple of a healthy diet.

But a superfood? Milk consumption has decreased in the U.S. by 25% since the 1970’s,[1] so perhaps they thought their darling product’s image was in need of a facelift.

Milk certainly can have some nutritional benefits. It’s packed with nutrients and enzymes that boost vitality, support the microbiome, and yes, help maintain the structural integrity of your muscles and bones—but only if it is unpasteurized.

Pasteurization destroys nearly everything that is wholesome about milk, and transforms it into a dead, health-sapping liquid. More on the wonders of raw milk a bit later in this article.

Suffice it to say that conventionally produced milk (the vast majority of milk on the market) is decidedly not a superfood. We reported in a previous article that milk consumption has been linked to a worrying array of side effects, including diarrhea, cramps, gas, and all sorts of other gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, infertility, and more.[2]

There’s plenty of reasons why milk causes such widespread imbalance in the body, but here’s one of the main ones: milk is full of chemicals. And according to recent studies, this issue may be even worse than health experts originally thought.

The chemicals lurking in milk

Get this: studies in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and other publications found more than 20 twenty different chemicals when they tested a standard glass of milk.[3]

The chemical list included numerous hormones, antibiotics, and even painkillers. And that’s not even counting all the nasty pathogens that often live in industrially produced milk (so much for pasteurization making our milk safer).

Here’s a brief list that should make you think twice before drinking your next glass of milk (or consuming dairy products in general).

Hormones. The average glass of milk contains levels of various hormones, like estrone, 17-beta-estradiol, 17a-esthinylestradiol, and the infamous recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). All of these hormones, which are used to increase milk production and body mass in cows, are also terribly unbalancing for your endocrine system.

Growth hormones increase your risk of developing cancerous tumors and becoming infertile, and they compromise your immune system. They even increase the level of pus in your milk—which is disgusting on its own, but also makes milk go rancid much more quickly.

Antibiotics and other drugs. All those growth hormones make cows much more susceptible to infection, disease, and inflammation, so they’re nearly always treated with a dizzying array of drugs: antibiotics to stave off disease, damaging painkillers to quell the chronic inflammation, and all sorts of other pharmaceuticals, including beta-blockers, lipid regulators, anti-epileptics, anti-malaria medication, and more. And all these chemicals are passed on to you through your milk.

Pesticides. The cows that produce conventional milk are fed with GMO corn, soy, and other highly inflammatory, pesticide-soaked grains. GMO advocates claim that pesticides couldn’t possibly end up in finished produce, but these virulent chemicals go even further down the chain.

One study presented conclusive evidence that pesticide residues can consistently be found not only in the feed given to cows, but even in the milk that they produce.[4] Perhaps this why the dairy industry is fighting so hard against GMO labeling—such labels would reveal the secret of their inhumane, unhealthful practices once and for all.

Radionuclides. Another study even found that conventional milk contains radioactive isotopes, including strontium and cesium. Very few theories even exist about how radioactive materials could possibly get into commercial milk—but some experts suggest contaminated water and animal feed, or contamination from military weapons testing.

So here are your best options…

Whether or not you’re morally against the animal exploitation that is an inevitability of the dairy industry, the information presented above should motivate you to make some changes when it comes to consuming milk and dairy products.

The best possible choice is to drink raw cow or goat milk. As mentioned at the outset of this article, raw milk is packed with nutrients, healthy fats, and beneficial bacteria.

Here’s the problem: obtaining raw milk can be a challenge. It’s technically illegal to sell unpasteurized milk in stores, so you’ll have to track down farmers directly. You’ll need to find a farm that’s already been vetted by health-conscious individuals, or else ask a lot of questions (in order to ensure that the farm’s animals are grass-fed, free range, and chemical-free).

If you must drink pasteurized milk—even the organic, grass-fed variety—keep your consumption to a minimum. Store-bought milk that is organic and grass-fed will not contain antibiotics, growth hormones, or other noxious chemicals, and the cows that produce it are not fed GMO grains—but it still carries all the same issues that come along with pasteurization.

Milk alternatives are another excellent option. Just avoid soy milk at all costs (it carries many of the same risks of growth hormones), and know that even milk alternatives are still pasteurized.

Store-bought almond milk in particular has been criticized for being unhealthful and exorbitantly priced. If you really want to drink a health-supporting milk alternative, your best bet is to make your raw almond milk at home (check out the recipe here).

By adopting these practices, you can insulate yourself from the horrendous, health-destroying products of the conventional diary industry…and you can show them that their propaganda isn’t working on us.

 


References

[1] http://www.dairyreporter.com/Commodities/Why-does-the-US-continue-to-drink-less-milk

[2] http://www.mercola.com/article/milk/no-milk.htm

[3] http://draxe.com/are-these-chemicals-in-your-milk/

[4] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf60082a606

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For decades, the marketing campaigns of the American Dairy Board have tried to convince us that milk is an indispensable component of any healthy diet. And it looks like they’ve succeeded.

Most people firmly believe that milk is a healthful product, and many are even able to offer well-formed arguments about its virtues.

This belief leads many to consume an alarming quantity of milk. According to the USDA Marketing Service, 56% of Americans consume between 2 and 5 glasses of milk per day, and nearly 10% consume a gallon or more![1]

But don’t start guzzling yet…and be careful how much trust you place in advertising campaigns. Because despite all the hype, milk is not good for you.

It has been definitively linked to diarrhea, cramps, gas, bloating, anemia, gastrointestinal bleeding, acne, rashes, atherosclerosis, type II diabetes, arthritis, leukemia, infertility…and well, you get the point.[2]

Cow’s milk is also the #1 food allergy in the country. Can this high incidence really be chalked up to a bodily disorder, or might it be more probable that the human body just has a really hard time dealing with milk?

Here’s the truth, though: it’s not milk itself that’s the culprit…it’s the way that it’s processed, as well as the way we treat the cows that produce it.

It all starts with animal mistreatment

The train of causes that makes milk so unhealthy begins long before the milk is ever produced.

Milk cows are kept in unsanitary confinement and artificially bred to possess abnormally large pituitary glands (this allows them to produce three times more milk than traditional cows).

This genetic manipulation (coupled with their unhealthy, soy-based, GMO feed) makes them chronically ill, so they are fed antibiotics in order to keep them well (they nearly always die young anyway, though).[3]

Furthermore, a recent FDA approval allows the use of BGH (bovine growth hormone), which increases milk production to an even greater, more unnatural degree. Some dairy farms also continue to use rBST (also known as rBGH, because it is a genetically modified version of natural bovine growth hormone), which has even more deleterious effects on the health of cows—and ultimately on the health of anyone who drinks their milk.

You probably already see where this argument is heading. Cows bred and raised like this can’t help but produce milk that is filled with antibiotics, pesticides, pathogens, and even IGF-1, which is linked to BGH usage, and causes breast cancer.[4]

All questions of morality aside, this grossly unnatural treatment of milk-producing cows creates a product that is harmful to your health.

And it gets worse.

Industrial processing creates dead, harmful milk

Milk is heavily processed—under the pretense of making it safe and healthy to drink. But the effect is quite the opposite: the final product is a dead, toxic liquid that bears little nutritional resemblance to natural milk.

Pasteurization is touted as the key to ridding dairy products of pesky bacteria and other pathogens. Unfortunately, it also kills all of their beneficial enzymes. It also destroys 100% of vitamin A (and possibly vitamin C, as well), 38% of B vitamins, and many amino acids.[5]

Because it is denatured, pasteurized milk is incredibly hard for the body to digest.

This is one reason why experts believe milk consumption is linked to diabetes and related diseases (because indigestibility places immense stress on the pancreas, which can lead to insulin resistance).

There are three types of pasteurization:

Regular pasteurization, during which milk is heated to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

High-Temperature Short-Time (HTST) pasteurization, during which milk is heated up to at least 161.6 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds.

Ultra-Heat Treatment (UHT) pasteurization, during which milk is heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of two seconds.

The hotter the temperature, the longer the milk’s shelf-life. This is good for profit margins, but bad for your health—because despite claims to the contrary, all three pasteurization methods destroy lactase, galactase, and phosphatase (the enzymes that allow us to digest and assimilate the nutrients in milk).

And to top things off, pasteurization often doesn’t even accomplish its intended purpose—one third of pasteurized milk is still contaminated with dangerous pathogens.[6]

Homogenization is a mechanical process that gives milk a more uniform consistency by breaking down fat molecules and preventing them from separating. The fat in non-homogenized milk will naturally separate, forming a layer of cream at the top of the container.

While some studies suggest that homogenization doesn’t negatively alter milk, the subject is still a controversial one in the natural health community.

There’s evidence that homogenization allows for easier absorption of a potentially harmful protein called xanthine oxidase. This protein would normally be broken down during digestion, but instead is protected by homogenized fat globules, and thus allowed to pass intact into the bloodstream.

Furthermore, homogenization increases the likelihood of rancidity, because fats placed under high pressure tend to oxidize. These oxidized fats can wreak havoc in the body by allowing for the formation of nasty free radicals.

Synthetic vitamins and additives are pumped into milk to try to make up for the damage done by pasteurization and homogenization.

Many synthetic vitamins are non-absorbable at best and toxic at worst. For example, synthetic vitamin D (the most common milk additive) has been shown to be toxic to the liver.

So here’s what you can do

While the mainstream dairy industry is overdue for some serious reforms, you still have options—even if you can’t stand the thought of giving up milk.

Always buy organic. This should go without saying. While even organic milk will carry the risks that come from pasteurization and homogenization, it’s generally free of antibiotics and genetically modified hormones.

Always make sure to do your due diligence, though. Industrial food producers are masters of finding loopholes. Before purchasing any milk product, make sure that it was produced by cows that are fed with organic, non-GMO, rBST-free feed.

Try milk alternatives. There’s a plethora of delicious milk alternatives to choose from, including hemp, almond, coconut, flax, rice, and sunflower. Many of these milks are even more nutritious than natural cow’s milk.

Just try to avoid soy milk, which carries as many potential problems with it as regular milk.

Drink raw cow’s milk. If you’re determined to stick with cow’s milk, there’s a ton of evidence to suggest that raw milk is the healthiest possible route for you to take.

While you can’t just walk into any store and purchase raw milk, it can often be found directly through local farms and food co-ops. Search for local groups and ask about it at health food stores in your area.

It’s worth the effort—raw milk is enzymatically active, hypoallergenic, never contains antibiotics or hormones, and comes from cows that live much happier, healthier lives.

 


References

[1] http://www.statisticbrain.com/milk-consumption-statistics/

[2] http://www.mercola.com/article/milk/no-milk.htm

[3] http://www.naturalnews.com/035130_raw_milk_infographic_pasteurized.html

[4] http://www.mercola.com/article/milk/no-milk.htm

[5] http://draxe.com/pasteurization-homogenization-101/

[6] http://www.naturalnews.com/035130_raw_milk_infographic_pasteurized.html

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