“Children drink milk – you will be healthy!”: what is the danger of the myth about the benefits of milk?

Cow’s milk is the perfect food… For calves

“Dairy products are the ideal food from nature itself – but only if you are a calf.<…> After all, our bodies are not adapted to the regular digestion of milk,” says nutritionist Dr. Mark Hyman in one of his publications.

From an evolutionary point of view, human addiction to the milk of another species is an inexplicable phenomenon. While the daily consumption of milk seems to most to be something natural and completely innocent. However, if you look at it from the point of view of biology, it becomes clear that mother nature did not prepare such a use for this “drink”.

We only started domesticating cows ten thousand years ago. Not surprisingly, in such a relatively short period of time, our bodies have not yet adapted to the digestion of milk of a foreign species. Problems arise mainly with the processing of lactose, a carbohydrate found in milk. In the body, “milk sugar” is broken down into sucrose and galactose, and in order for this to happen, a special enzyme, lactase, is required. The catch is that this enzyme ceases to be produced in most people between the ages of two and five. It has now been proven that approximately 75% of the world’s population suffers from lactose intolerance (2).

Do not forget that the milk of each animal is adapted to the needs of the cubs of a strictly specific biological species. Goat’s milk is for kids, cat’s milk is for kittens, dog’s milk is for puppies and cow’s milk is for calves. By the way, calves at birth weigh about 45 kilograms, by the time weaning from the mother, the cub already weighs eight times more. Accordingly, cow’s milk contains about three times more protein and nutrients than human milk. However, despite all the nutritional benefits of mother’s milk, the same calves stop drinking it altogether after reaching a certain age. The same thing happens with other mammals. In the animal world, milk is exclusively baby food. While people drink milk throughout their lives, which in all respects is contrary to the natural course of things. 

Impurities in milk

Thanks to advertising, we are accustomed to the image of a happy cow grazing peacefully in a meadow. However, few people think about how this colorful picture is far from reality. Dairy farms often resort to quite sophisticated methods to increase “production volumes”.

For example, a cow is artificially inseminated, since in a large enterprise it would be too resource-intensive to organize private meetings with a bull for each individual cow. After the cow calves, she gives milk, on average, for 10 months, after which the animal is artificially inseminated again and the whole cycle is repeated anew. This happens for 4-5 years, which the cow spends in constant pregnancies and painful births (3). At the same time, during all this time, the animal gives many times more milk than it happens in natural conditions when feeding the cub. This is usually due to the fact that on the farm the animals are given a special hormonal drug, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). When taken into the human body through cow’s milk, this hormone stimulates the production of a protein called insulin-like growth factor-1, which in high concentrations can trigger the growth of cancer cells (4). According to Dr. Samuel Epstein of the American Cancer Society: “By consuming milk containing rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), a significant increase in blood levels of IGF-1 can be expected, which may further increase the risk of developing breast cancer and contribute to its invasiveness” (5) .

However, in addition to growth hormone, traces of antibiotics are often found in milk in laboratory tests. After all, the very process of obtaining milk is a cruel exploitation on an industrial scale. Today, milking involves attaching a special unit with a vacuum pump to the udder of a cow. Continuous machine milking causes mastitis and other infectious diseases in cows. In order to stop the inflammatory process, animals are often injected with antibiotics, which also do not completely disappear during the pasteurization process (6).        

Other hazardous substances that have been found in milk at one time or another include pesticides, dioxins, and even melamine, which cannot be eliminated by pasteurization. These toxins are not immediately removed from the body and negatively affect the urinary organs, as well as the immune and nervous systems.

Healthy bones?

In response to the question of what needs to be done in order to maintain healthy bones, any doctor will say without much thought: “Drink more milk!”. However, despite the popularity of dairy products in our latitudes, the number of people suffering from osteoporosis is steadily growing every year. According to the official website of the Russian Osteoporosis Association, every minute in the Russian Federation there are 17 low-traumatic fractures of the peripheral skeleton due to osteoporosis, every 5 minutes – a fracture of the proximal femur, and a total of 9 million clinically significant fractures due to osteoporosis per year ( 7).

There is currently no evidence per se that dairy products have a positive effect on bone health. Moreover, over the past years, a number of studies have been conducted proving that milk consumption, in principle, does not affect bone strength in any way. One of the most famous is the Harvard Medical Study, which included nearly 78 subjects and lasted for 12 years. The study found that subjects who consumed more milk were also prone to osteoporosis, as were those who drank little or no milk (8).    

Our body is constantly extracting old, waste calcium from the bones and replacing it with new. Accordingly, in order to maintain bone health, it is necessary to maintain a constant “supply” of this element to the body. The daily requirement for calcium is 600 milligrams – this is more than enough for the body. In order to make up for this norm, according to popular belief, you need to drink 2-3 glasses of milk a day. However, there are more harmless plant sources of calcium. “Milk and dairy products are not a mandatory part of the diet and, in general, can have a negative impact on health. It is better to give your preference to healthy food, which is represented by cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes and vitamin-fortified foods, including breakfast cereals and juices. By consuming these products, you can easily fill the need for calcium, potassium, riboflavin without the additional health risks associated with the consumption of dairy products, ”recommend on their official website doctors from the association of supporters of a plant-based diet (9).


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