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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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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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