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Milk, does it really do any-body good?

Hearing Howard Lyman speak at the Vegan Holiday Festival got me thinking about dairy. Howard emphatically stated that the number one thing every person must do to save their health, is to stop consuming dairy products. Dairy, in his view, was much much worse than chicken, seafood or beef. As Howard was a 40-year cattle rancher, I was surprised that this would be his #1 recommendation to those on the standard American diet.

Do a quick search online about the “health benefits and risks of dairy,” and you will come up with an overwhleming amount of research pointing to the questionable benefits and absolutely toxifying nature of dairy.

Harvard School of Public Health, on the Consumption of Dairy Products (2005):

“The recommendation to drink three glasses of low-fat milk or eat three servings of other dairy products per day to prevent osteoporosis is another step in the wrong direction. … Three glasses of low-fat milk add more than 300 calories a day. This is a real issue for the millions of Americans who are trying to control their weight. What’s more, millions of Americans are lactose intolerant, and even small amounts of milk or dairy products give them stomachaches, gas, or other problems. This recommendation ignores the lack of evidence for a link between consumption of dairy products and prevention of osteoporosis. It also ignores the possible increases in risk of ovarian cancer and prostate cancer associated with dairy products.”

I recall my original push to become Vegan, back in 2002, from a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. I never ate tons of dairy in the first place and was already quite fit. I was astonished to lose about 10 pounds (mostly fat) within the first month of giving up dairy. How could removing the occasional slice of pizza or slice of cheese from my diet cause such an impact?

I suppose drinking the milk of an animal that suckles to grow from 100 to over 800 pounds in less than a year would surely cause some weight gain in a human being!

Click here for more information on the anti-dairy position. For the pro dairy position, just check out this. I must admit the amazon hair goddess video almost had me running out for a quart of YooHoo.

I have been dairy free for the past three days and feel great. Anyone else willing to drop dairy for 30 days?

28 comments

  1. Edward says:

    This is something that I have talked about for years. I’ve never believed that cow’s milk is as healthy for you, as some people want you to believe. Sure, it has plenty of calcium and vitamin d, but you can get those same nutrients from other food sources.

    The only type of “milk” I drink is hemp milk and almond milk. Rice milk is good, but I don’t drink it often. Those types of milk have more nutrients in them, and are much healthier for you.
    .-= Edward´s last blog ..The Health Benefits of Calcium Orotate =-.

  2. Sharon Beasley says:

    I love milk. It actually is a cure for me at times. For years now, I occasionally have a strange pain that pops up for no apparent reason that can migrate around in my middle section and even go to my back area. I can connect it to no food, no event. But I found that a good swig of milk makes it go away immediately.

  3. skeptic says:

    milk is a fantastic substance. most people are better of not drinking it though. conventional milk is harmful. raw, organic milk is only beneficial.

  4. Ravi Raman says:

    Hey Brooke, I think that is one of the biggest shams in our time! There is very little good for anyone in milk. I’d argue that unless someone was seriously malnourished….they are better off staying away from it!

  5. Kristen Colello says:

    Hello,
    We have to comes to terms with the fact that most farms aren’t the ones we’ve learned about in textbooks. Now, the animals are commodities – so sad!

    I was talking with Howard last night after his lecture at Yale. Yes, he did say to avoid dairy products. Dairy has changed over the years – it’s full of pus.

    I have written about dairy in my ebook, so we can become healthier! Cancer is
    something we need to be concerned about.
    Dairy is not the food to consume if you want to avoid the possibilty of getting cancer.

    Of course, you can’t be a couch potato
    and eat junk food all day long, either.

    Avoid dairy and learn what foods supply calcium.

    To your good health!
    Kristen Colello
    google my name – I can help

  6. Alisa says:

    For anyone who is looking at going dairy free, I just finished a new guidebook – “Dairy Free Made Easy: Thousands of Foods, Hundreds of Tips, and Dozens of Recipes for Non-Dairy Living.” Hopefully it can help with those peppermint mocha cravings : )

    Each purchase comes with over $30 in coupons (think Turtle Mountain “ice cream” – trust me it is really good – and Vegan Gourmet “cheese” – rumor has it this stuff really melts). Use the coupon code dairyfree10 at checkout and get 10% off.

    The book addresses some othe dairy studies and research as well.

  7. Jason says:

    With regard to Bag’s latest comment evolution does have a huge impact on the way our bodies are able to process food. There are many food allergies, or auto immune responses to certain kinds of foods. Celiac disease and people who are lactose intolerant just to name two. Evolution is the only process by which our bodies learn to adapt to our environments.

    Wy do you think that there has been an increase in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, among all of the other lifestyle diseases. If you do a little research you would be surprised to find that the majority of these diseases are caused by poor and inadequate nutrition, mainly processed foods.

    Our bodies are not capable of processing the majority of the crap we stuff in our faces, which is reflected in the poor health of the world’s population. As more and more people adopt the traditional Western diet more diseases will continue to arise. I suggest looking into the book “The Metabolic Typing Diet” by William Wolcott which examines some of these evolutionary ideas.

  8. Bag says:

    Id disagree with you on the point that we would need to adapt in anyway, in order to be able to consume dairy products.
    Are digestive system is able to process a very wide array of different substances, even if its one we have never come across before. The species proceeding our own, and of course early man itself, would have had a very limited selection of foods available to them, and may have been evolving in the same place with the same foods for many 1000s if not millions of years. Yet this has not hampered are digestive systems ability to process fruit, vegetables and meats that may originate from the opposite side of the planet to where are species originally evolved?
    I believe the same thing applies to are ability to consume milk products? Although it may not fall within the range of foods available to are species during much of its evolution, it still falls within the range are digestive system is equipped to cope with anyway.

    Ive decided not to comment on your technology response here as much of what i personally believe is irrelevant to this issue and would probably be better placed as a response to that blog itself.

    On a slightly different note, i understand from the posts may of you are ether vegetarian or vegan and although this may not necessarily be true of you, Quorn based foods tends to be an essential part of the vegan diet if not the vegetarian one as well (at least in Europe). Yet Quorn is a GM food, making far more unnatural than any dairy product, as well as having a larger amount of people allergic to it statistically than peanuts, and in tern a massive amount more than are lactose intolerant, which in the case you do eat quorn or quorn based products would undermine that part of your argument, although if the case is you don’t this criticism doest really apply.

    Micah:
    I personally feel very good myself, i have nothing weighing on my conscience and i am very happy with my life at this point in time? Yet i both consume dairy products as well as many meat products, very regularly. So i cant really accept your argument since its entirely subjective, and even taken as that is in conflict with the subjective evidence i can gain from myself?

  9. Micah says:

    I quit dairy long ago and am very happy without it. What I like the most about going vegan is the lack of bad feeling. Can’t quantify it or put it in a study really; I just feel better than I ever did. The lightness of thought, clarity of conscience, feels really good. Thanks.

  10. ravisraman says:

    Hi Bag, by un-natural I am referring to biological terms. Biological evolution occurs at a slow rate. We, as a species, have domesticated animals starting from 10-15,000 years ago. On an evolutionary scale, I don’t see how our biology could have adapted to favor such radical change.

    Similarly, I think technology is creating it’s own challenges in terms of Humans ability to cope with information. I wrote another post about “The Dangers of Multi-Tasking” that touches on this point. I am not saying technology is bad, just that we all need to cognizant of how its abuse could impact our lives, and more specifically, our mental and emotional well-being.

    Thanks for your comment.

  11. Bag says:

    I don’t quite get what the problem is with it being “un-natural”?
    Humans are the only animal that wears cloths, does that mean we should all run around nude because cloths are “un-natural”?
    No other species uses technology to the degree we do, should we abandon all technology because its “un-natural”?

    Think about it, what exactly is “un-natural “, the fact most humans do drink milk from cows, means it is “natural” for us, as is wearing cloths and using technology.
    So because its “un-natural” for a cow to use the internet, it doesn’t mean its not normal for a human to partake in that behaviour.
    Just my thoughts on this part of the debate.

  12. Rob says:

    For what it’s worth..I know of examples of mammals suckling from a different species of mammal. There was an example at a zoo where a mother tiger lost her cubs and fell into deep depression. Their solution ended up being bringing in 6 little piglets dressed in tiger striped cloth. Needless to say…momma (Tiger) and babies (Piggies) are living in harmony.

  13. Alisa says:

    Hi Jason,

    I returned to a dairy free diet several years ago, when I discovered I still had an allergy to it. It prompted me to start an informational website on the topic, http://www.GoDairyFree.org. Good or bad, I do my best to find out the facts behind various research topics pertaining to dairy and non-dairy diets.

    In terms of weight loss, my husband opted to go dairy free with me. Within months he lost the weight around his stomach (about 10 pounds), though nothing else in his diet or exercise habits changed. Due to this I was very skeptical when the “3 a day dairy” diet emerged from the dairy council. I think you may find the following article particularly interesting…http://www.godairyfree.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=39. I wrote earlier in the year after researching Dr. Zemel’s study, which was the basis of this diet.

    I do believe that each person needs to follow the diet that is best for them. For my family, living without milk has been a life saver, literally.

    Thank you for writing such a thought provoking post!

  14. ravisraman says:

    Hi jason,

    From a biological point of view, I agree that mammals are made to consume milk at infancy. However, no full-grown mammal suckles. It is an unnatural thing. Also, no mammal suckles from the mother of a different species. It doesn’t make it unhealthy, just unnatural. given how imperfect science is, even in this modern age, I am willing to go out on a limb that something this un-natural is worthy of skepticism.

    Also, my sister is a naturopath (www.drpadma.com) and has talked to me about the whole raw milk thing. She even got me to buy unpasteurized milk in the glass jars from a local farm 🙂 . I agree that consuming this type of unprocessed dairy is MUCH BETTER for you.

    However, I don’t know anyone who draws the hard line that “I will eat dairy…but only unpasteurized, un homogenized dairy that was milked from the cow less than 24 hours ago.” Modern society makes following this strict rule virtually impossible. Even if it was a healthy thing to consume, it is impractical.

    However, I still am not convinced that the health benefits outweight the cons. Even raw dairy still has lactose, and 7/10 American are lactose intolerant to some degree. There is also the calorie arguement, hormonal impact, etc.

    I’ve read research going both directions on this whole topic. What makes an anti-diary stance hard for me is the fact that dairy is such an important part of my culture. From religious rights, to cooking….in Indian culture, the cow is sacred, as is milk. It is considered an blessing/offerring to consume it. It was this fact that made me stop being Vegan 2 years ago and start consuming dairy again (I was Vegan for a couple years). I’ve slowly cut dairy out of my diet again. We’ll see how it goes this time around.

    However, the overwhleming research on deterimental effects of dairy, and my own moral grounds prove to me, without a doubt, that dairy is determental to well-being. By well-being (for me) I also include the moral/ethical implications of drinking milk. For me, this is paramount to any health benefits. I am willing to forgo the benefit if I can live a healthy life AND not hurt the animals.

    I urge my friends to educate themselves and make an informed decision. As you said, there is a lot of information and research out there…..we owe it to ourselved to get the whole story! This includes the harmful effects, which are poorly understood by the general public.

    Thanks for your comment!

  15. Charles says:

    Having been lactose intolerant to varying degrees my whole life, I could not agree with this more. It just doesn’t make sense that people drink dairy milk. I have argued this with many people and they look at me like I just got out of a mental institution.

    What other animal drinks the mother’s milk of another animal outside of humans? None that I know of. If someone can prove me wrong please do! How can something so unnatural be considered healthy?

    The osteoperosis argument might work, but I am sure that a commitment to being fit and eating healthy outside of dairy could easily over come the absence of dairy products.

  16. Jason says:

    In my opinion, as the is the opinion of many others in the holistic nutrition field, is that milk and dairy products aren’t naturally bad for you. However, through some questionable practices by modern industrialized agriculture we have managed to make it very bad for us.

    There are actually many studies that show the consumption of dairy products can lead to a lower body weight and body fat percentage. Dairy is also a great source of calcium and protein. There can also be lots of beneficial bacteria in milk that keeps your stomach and digestive systems functioning properly.

    Unfortunately through the homogenization and pasteurization process all of the healthy nutritional aspects of milk are virtually killed, taking a healthy food to a potentially harmful food.

    If you are able to find a source of raw milk from a local producer you would actually benefit from drinking milk. By getting raw milk you are avoiding the homogenization and pasteurization process. Some may be concerned about the potential health affects of drinking raw milk, but through research you should find that there are few actual incidences of illness caused by raw milk. The health scare around raw milk is just another ploy by big business to get us to consume their products.

    How is it that every mammal on the face of the earth consumes milk at birth? My opinion is that mother nature wouldn’t have us consume something that was bad for us. I believe that milk can be extremely good for us. The people who claim to be lactose intolerant may be surprised to potentially find that they aren’t necessarily lactose intolerant, but intolerant to processed milk, which elimates all of the good bacteria that allows for proper digestion.

    As with everything I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss or accept beliefs and ideas. Do a little research to try to find the whole story. Just a little advice.

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