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Top Ten Myths About the Nutritional Value of Cow's Milk

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The milk industry has created several reasons why we need our daily dose of milk. We've heard some of these for so many years now that they have become part of our thinking. It's time to examine the myths, lies and propaganda about cow's milk.

1. Cow's milk is pasteurized to make it safer.

Milk is pasteurized at over 170 degrees. All of the enzymes and anything of value in the milk are killed at 130 degrees. So, it's fortified, value has to be added back in. What pasteurization really did for the business was give milk a longer shelf life. But beware. Raw milk sours when it goes bad, so you know it immediately. With pasteurized milk you can't tell when it has started to spoil. It's already rancid long before the bad odor develops.

2. Cow's milk is a good substitute for mother's breast milk.

A new born calf weighs around 90 pounds and in two years it will weigh 2000 pounds. A human infant is born at 6 to 8 pounds and it takes 18 years to reach 100 to 200 pounds. I say let nature be your guide. The structure of the milk for each species is designed to meet the specific needs of that species. Humans do not need to put on weight as fast as cows. The high fat and cholesterol content of cow's milk should be on everyone's list of things to avoid. As I'm writing this, I see the dairy industry is running commercials encouraging the use of milk as part of a weight loss program. What an advertising spin!

3. Our children need milk to make them strong and healthy.

Humans are the only species on this planet that refuse to wean their young. Again, we've set ourselves above nature. How wise is this? Studies are showing that dairy products are the leading cause of allergies. (1) (2) Since cow's milk causes a build up of mucus in our bodies, dairy can be linked as a primary cause for runny noses, colds, ear infections, bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, and even hay fever.

4. Milk is essential for good teeth.

This is still being touted today even though it was brought into great question back in the 1960s. A study was done using rats because their tooth decay process is biologically identical to human teeth. The end result was that the group fed pasteurized milk got twice as many cavities as the group on the sugar-fed diet. (3)

5. We need milk and dairy products for protein.

The protein component in cow's milk is casein. This substance is so thick and coarse that it's used to make some of the strongest wood glues you can buy. Cow's milk contains 300 times more casein than human milk. But then, cows also have four stomachs for digestion. Human bodies lack the digestive ability to break down the casein protein. So what can we do? What has nature given us? Protein is built from amino acids. Every amino acid needed to build human protein can be found in fruits and vegetables.

6. Milk builds strong bones. We need it to fight osteoporosis.

In reality, dairy products are the number one cause of osteoporosis. Yes, other contributors are tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, soft drinks, salt, antacids, and lack of exercise, but the major cause is dairy products. And yes, cow's milk does have calcium, but it also has casein protein, which is impossible for our digestive systems to handle, so we end up with excess. Amino acids try to break down the casein protein. It gets metabolized in the liver, and travels through the kidneys. If that excess protein would just leave our bodies via the urine, I suppose all would be well, but it doesn't do that. Clinging to it on its way out are large amounts of minerals, among them being calcium. Here's the catch; the more animal protein you consume, the more calcium you lose. Osteoporosis has been studied worldwide and the correlation holds true that countries with higher consumption of dairy products also have higher reports of osteoporosis.

7. We need milk and dairy for calcium.

Well, number six blew this out of the water. So where do we get our calcium? Calcium is in the soil. Plants absorb it and make it part of their structure. Animals eat the plants. Their bodies absorb the calcium. Cows don't drink milk for their calcium, they eat plant life. So should we. Fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, grains, seeds and beans all have calcium in them.

8. Pregnant woman need to drink more milk.

Actually, the more cow's milk a pregnant woman drinks, the more likely the infant will need that suction tube hospitals always have on hand. It sucks out the thick mucus from the baby's nose and throat at delivery so it can breathe. It's called "muco-protein" and mothers-to-be may want to learn more about this. Remember, your unborn is eating what you're eating. The high mucus content of milk passes into your baby. You may want to consider cutting back on dairy products during pregnancy and look at other calcium and protein alternatives.

9. Breast feeding mothers need to drink more milk.

Have you ever heard of a cow drinking milk so that it has better and more nutritious milk for its calf? No adult mammal on this planet drinks milk except for the human. For some reason we've put ourselves above the laws of nature. If we look at nature we'll find the plant life foods to make nutritious breast milk for our species' young.

10. Milk helps coat the stomach and ease the pain of ulcers.

This idea has been passed down through the last few generations and seems to still be floating around. Dairy products are acid-forming foods. Milk will aggravate an ulcer. You'll want to talk to your doctor for help in dealing with an ulcer.

If milk is a major part of your life style and you are looking for an alternative, you should consider soymilk. It's high in calcium and its protein is easy to digest.

(1) Tommori, J., and Pal Osvath, Hajnalka Marton, and Helga Lehotzky. "Study of the Frequency of Cow's Milk Sensitivity in the Families of Milk-Allergic and Asthmatic Children." Acta Allergol, Vol.28, July 1973, p.107.

(2) Bahna, Sami L., M.D. Allergies to Milk. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1980.

(3) Southern California Dental Association Journal, Vol. 31, No.9, Sept. 1963.
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