Yes. Cow’s milk is a perfect food. If you’re a calf. Think dairy is good for you? Whether you drink milk or eat cheese for the calcium, protein, or just because it is that dang delicious and addicting, you should be aware that there are other options out there that are much more beneficial and satisfying. More and more high quality research is showing us that dairy is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
I asked a Registered Dietitian, Katie Reines, to share some information about dairy with us all:
Contrary to popular belief, cow’s milk is not the best source of calcium. The amount of calcium in a glass of milk may appear to be higher than in broccoli, however the vegetable form is more readily assimilated by the body and has considerably higher health benefits.
Here are some foods to consider integrating into your diet that have more beneficial calcium than dairy:
- fortified plant-based milk like soy or almond
- calcium set tofu
- sesame seeds
- collard greens
To keep your bones healthy and strong, be sure to:
- do weight bearing exercises
- spend at least 20 minutes daily in direct sunlight
- consider taking about 2000 IUs of a plant-based vitamin D3 supplement
2. Lactose Intolerance + IBS
About 70% of the world’s population has lactose intolerance in adulthood. Humans are not designed to drink cow’s milk. We are only designed to drink human milk until about the age of two. At around two years old, most people stop producing lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugars in milk. The fact that most of our bodies do not produce the enzymes to digest milk is a pretty strong indication that we should not be consuming it.
Dr. T Colin Campbell, (who grew up on a dairy farm), conducted studies showing that he could control cancer growth by adjusting the amount of casein (the protein in milk) in rats. His studies also compared proteins from different sources. He found that only animal proteins promoted cancer growth, while plant-based proteins did not.
Also, findings of a 2015 meta-analysis discovered that high intakes of dairy products like milk and cheese in men appeared to increase total prostate cancer risk, while non-dairy sources of calcium did not.
4. Osteoporosis + Hip Fracture
Believe it or not, countries with the most dairy consumption have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, in the US, (where cow’s milk and dairy products like cheese are customary in the diet and 3 cups of dairy milk per day is recommended for healthy bones), low bone mass and osteoporosis are major public health threats. In fact, 55% of people aged 50 and older in the US have these health conditions. In contrast, in China, where their traditional cuisine doesn’t use dairy milk or cheese, the overall prevalence of osteoporosis is approximately 7% among older adults.
In the population study, “Milk Intake and Risk of Mortality and Fractures in Women and Men,” researchers following more than 100,000 men and women in Sweden for about 20 years found significantly higher rates of bone and hip fractures, heart disease, cancer, and premature death in general for women who drank more milk. Three glasses of milk a day was associated with nearly twice the risk of dying early!
5. Cow Hell + Environmental Impact
Dairy cows get raped, their calves taken away, raped again, until they are so weak they can no longer stand. This exhausting, torturous practice is unjust and needs to be put to an end. Their immobile lives contribute horribly to both their health and the environment. All of the space, water, and food it takes to support the dairy industry could easily feed millions of people. Also, cow farts (not to mention all the cow poop) are the leading source of detrimental methane gas emissions that have been shown to lead to climate change and global warming. Since methane captures more of the sun’s energy than carbon dioxide emissions, it’s actually a more potent greenhouse gas that we need to decrease to combat climate change.
As a registered dietitian, there are so many more case studies I could go over indicating that dairy products exacerbate migraines, allergies, hormone issues, infections, and beyond. If there is one change I recommend you make in the direction of a healthier body and world, please do yourself and the environment a favor and stop consuming dairy products! I have yet to work with someone who doesn’t say they felt better without dairy.
Still think you need the stuff? I challenge you to go dairy-less for a week and see how you feel! Let me know if you have any questions.