Milk myths and facts: Some food for thought

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by: Nanditha Ram
Tags: milk myths, lactose intolerance, bone density

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(NaturalNews) If you want to increase your calcium intake, then drink milk. If you want to prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures, then drink milk. Right? Research is telling us that we couldn't be more wrong. Milk is mostly hype and hardly healthy. At least, not the milk we drink today, which is vastly different from what our ancestors used to drink.

Time was when waking up to a glass of milk or drinking some before bed time was considered a healthy habit. That rule no longer holds good and here's why: milk found on the supermarket shelf is highly processed. Milk is an extremely acidic or "acidifying" food to begin with, and the homogenization and pasteurization process makes it all the more so. The problem with consuming milk on the basis that it supplies the body with calcium is that, in order for calcium to be absorbed by the body, it needs to be given adequate magnesium and vitamin C as well. Interestingly too, calcium is the one mineral that is freely taken from the bones in order to neutralize blood acidity and restore blood pH. Hence, ironic though it may seem, milk can have the opposite effect to what is desired: deplete the body of calcium in order to render the blood acid-neutral. So drinking milk doesn't really help your bones. You'd be better off eating vitamin D instead. The fact remains that osteoporosis cannot be prevented by high milk consumption. On the contrary, the animal protein found in milk could well be the cause of bone loss.

Another thing that we need to be wary of is the fact that the dairy industry is free to supply cows with growth hormones that increase the production of milk artificially. The laboratory made hormone, bovine growth hormone, or rBGH, is known to increase the levels if insulin growth factor (IGF) in the blood of those consuming it, linking it with the incidence of several types of cancer.

Milk politics

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an "up-to-date" food pyramid that recommends drinking three glasses of milk per day. Critics of this pyramid say that it has not been created in an authentic way with the consumer's best interest at heart. They say that the pyramid is a reflection of the dairy industry's vested interests.

According to Harvard scientist Dr. Willet, one of the most vociferous critics of the USDA food pyramid, the USDA's claims are ridiculous, because according to him, there is very little evidence that milk reduces fractures. What is more, milk is a proven source of saturated fat and is linked to heart disease, increases risk of prostrate cancer, aggravates irritable bowel syndrome and creates digestive ills in those with lactose intolerance, which is approximately 75% of adults on the planet. Those doctors and nutritionists who advise against adding any dairy to your diet at all say that, while raw organic milk can be taken without the burden of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and processing, the risks of dairy consumption outweigh the benefits anyway. Besides, there are other ways and dietary means to improve one's health. The bottom line is simple: you don't need milk to be healthy.

Yet, pro-milk propaganda is big. And the question that is being asked by the anti-dairy lobby is this: will authentic scientific evidence have any bearing on food policy and dietary guidelines that is simple to decipher or will consumers be fed with misinformation so the dairy industry will benefit?


About the author:
Nanditha Prasad Ram is a consumer and health journalist and a practicing holistic therapist.
Her blog is available at

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