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Is Milk Healthy? The Good, Bad and Ugly

We have all seen the “Got Milk” commercials, along with it the story of how regularly drinking milk is healthy for you. It’s true, pure milk promotes strong bones and teeth from the calcium it contains. Milk also contains enzymes that break down lactose(sugar in milk), lipase (break down fat), protease (break down protein), lactoferrin (anti-inflammatory property).

It also touts antiviral and immune system boosting effects. With a list of benefits that long, it’s no wonder why milk is perceived as healthy. However, there is also a side of milk that one should be aware of before partaking in a heavy dairy diet.

Is Milk Healthy? The Real Story

It is safe to assume that people aren’t milking their own cows and drinking pure milk. So it is important to take into consideration the process that milk takes from pasture to kitchen table. Store bought milk and any processed dairy products like cheeses are stripped of most of its beneficial ingredients leaving behind oxidized (read: bad) fat dispersed in water. Then the vitamin D and calcium are artificially added back into the liquid with poor absorption.

The processing that takes place to sell the milk that you find on store shelves changes the form altogether. Homogenization creates free radicals which are known to cause damage to human cells. Pasteurization (heat above 212 F) kills the valuable enzymes, in turn, making milk very difficult for us to digest. Store bought milk is essentially foreign and dead calories. Amazing, that it’s been shown by research that a calf will die after 4 days of being fed store bought pasteurized, homogenized milk.

Women and Children Who Drink Milk

When pregnant women drink a lot of milk during pregnancy their children are much more likely to develop atopic dermatitis(skin rashes). Excessive intake of animal protein can result in allergic reactions that can be the cause of hives, collagen disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease etc. Similarly, soy milk even though better absorbed by the body than regular milk also contains a factor which can mimic estrogen (female hormone).

Boys who consume soy milk during infancy and young adulthood have been shown to grow breasts and develop body characteristics normally seen in females. Incorporating a lot of meat into the diet of young adolescents may not be altogether healthy either because a high protein diet can make the blood very acidic and that’s where we use up a lot of calcium to neutralize it which actually leads to osteoporosis (soft bones). The same is true for a high intake of calcium in the form of supplements which are recommended in this country for osteoporotic-postmenopausal women.

One important factor which physicians tend to omit is the fact that the only way calcium can be deposited in hard tissue, such as teeth and bones, is when it is introduced by its carrier, estrogen. After menopause, women have very little estrogen so most of the prescribed calcium tablets we consume go on to produce kidney stones and calculus(tartar) on our teeth. The use of what’s called bisphosphonates(Fosamax, Zometa, Arredia etc) many of which are involved in class action lawsuits, is an even worse solution to osteoporosis as it has awful side effects which could lead to the spontaneous melting away of the jaw bone.

Now That You Know, Here’s What You Can Do

Yet again, healthy unprocessed foods and weight exercises rather than drinking milk or taking supplements seem to be the best solution when it comes to maintaining healthy teeth and bones. Supplementing your diet with small fish ensures that you get the benefits of calcium, which when ingested in this form, are slowly absorbed by the body and not rapidly elevating calcium levels.

In addition, casein (milk protein) and lactose(milk sugar) are hard to digest even though milk contains lactobacillus bacteria which is believed to help maintain the “good” bacteria in our gut. The “magical” effects of yogurts such as Activia in “regulating” or emptying are in my opinion the ugly, mild cases of diarrhea. The human body has a defense mechanism against foreign bacteria so even the ones that are meant to be “good” for us are recognized as foreign. I would like to recommend a macrobiotic diet to anyone who seems to struggle with irregularity.

My Milk Dilemma

I’m afraid it may take a couple of generations before we realize that the way we are utilizing milk is not a sustainable form of healthy living. Old habits are hard to break, and when it comes to milk, I too will be stopping by the store tonight before going home to make sure we have milk for breakfast. So, is milk healthy? The better question is what’s the healthiest diet for you.

At Laraway Family Dentistry, we specialize in bright smiles and keeping mouths healthy. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.