The truth about milk and dairy products

As a child growing up in New Zealand in the 1960’s, we used to get a free bottle of milk at school each morning. It was provided by the Government to all children of primary school age. (New Zealand was a socialist paradise in those days.) The milk came in half-pint glass bottles. It had a layer of cream on top, about an inch thick.

We used to shake the bottle to mix in the cream. Then we chugged down the milk before running off to play. I loved my daily milk. So did most other kids. I can’t remember any child ever being allergic or intolerant to milk. I don’t think such a thing was ever heard of.

The Government used to subside all milk in New Zealand in those days. It cost 3 pence per pint. This was to ensure even the poorest people could afford milk.

At home, my mother insisted we drink a glass of milk at every meal. She consumed a pint of milk herself every day. My mother is now 88 years old and in exceptionally good health. She still drinks milk (organic these days) and swears by its health benefits.

It’s hard to imagine such as thing as free school milk today. Most kids would turn up their noses at plain, whole milk. You would need to flavour it and add sugar to get them to drink it. And many parents would object because their children are intolerant or allergic to dairy products.

Today there’s so much confusion about milk

Many nutrition experts are now recommending we avoid milk. Some claim it causes cancer and heart disease. Others say humans were never designed to drink milk – it is a food for baby calves.

I was confused myself for a while. After I got chronic fatigue syndrome, I had some food allergy tests done. I was found to be allergic to most grains, dairy products, citrus fruits and various other foods. For three years, I avoided all dairy religiously. Unfortunately, my health got worse on that restricted diet.

My recovery really began when I went back to my parents’ house at the age of 25, reduced to skin and bone by my extreme diet. I had not seen my mother for a couple of years. She took one look at me and made me a large mug of hot chocolate, with whole milk and insisted I drink it! It tasted amazing.

That was a turning point. I started to see sense. I ate everything again, including lots of dairy products. My health rapidly improved.

So, why do many experts now recommend we avoid dairy products? There are several reasons, some of which are valid. The way most milk is produced and processed today, means it is far less nutritious than it used to be. Cows are given hormones and antibiotics, which end up in the milk. It is pasteurized and homogenized, which reduces its nutritional value and makes it less digestible.

At the time I was growing up in New Zealand, all milk came from grass-fed cows and was minimally processed. That is no longer the case. That’s why today, I drink mainly organic milk.

If you live in the United States, bear in mind the hormone rBGH is widely used by dairy farmers to boost milk production in their cows. This hormone has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer in humans. It has been banned in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and the European Union — but not in America.

Also, many milk products now contain some form of synthetic vitamin A and D. (Even some organic brands in the US.) According to Josh Rubin of East West Healing and Performance, many people have an inflammatory response to these synthetic vitamins. So it’s important to read your labels.

Pasteurized versus raw milk

There’s no question, raw (unpasteurized) milk is superior nutritionally to pasteurized milk. In France, and some other countries, it’s possible to buy raw milk from vending machines. The French place a high value on quality food and won’t settle for second best.

The downside of raw milk is, there is a risk of diseases such as tuberculosis if the milk comes from cows that are infected. It’s a small risk but one that most Governments around the world are not willing to take. So they have banned the sale of raw milk. So the next best thing is organic milk from grass-fed cows, which has been pasteurized.

Whole milk versus low fat and skim milk

Whole milk contains saturated fat. So since the 1970’s, mainstream nutritional advice has been to choose low fat milk. In recent years, nutritionists have realized saturated fat is not so bad after all. Saturated fat can be beneficial to our health. It contains vital nutrients including vitamin A and D. When you remove the saturated fat from milk, you are left with basically sugar water with a little protein.

What about lactose intolerance?

Many people say they have a hard time digesting the lactose (milk sugar) in milk. They get gas, upset stomach, cramps, and bloating etc. The enzyme lactase is needed to break down lactose. Lactose intolerance begins when the gut and intestines become inflamed and damaged (due to excessive consumption of refined sugar, refined oils, processed foods, additives etc.) So the problem is not milk itself but a compromised digestion.

It also appears some ethnic groups are better able to digest milk than others. The Chinese, Japanese and other South East Asian countries, where milk has not been traditionally consumed, tend to have problems when consuming dairy products. But people from Europe, the Middle East and South Asia, where milk has been part of the traditional diet for thousands of years, seem better adapted to dairy.

A “land flowing with milk and honey”

In the Old Testament, the Promised Land is described as a “land flowing with milk and honey”. The ancient Jews apparently regarded milk (and honey) as highly desirable foods. Likewise, the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda places a high value on milk and dairy products. While Ayurveda does not recommend dairy for all physical types, it stresses its importance not only for maintaining health but also for promoting longevity.

So, those who claim milk is not a food designed for human consumption, simply haven’t studied history or traditional diets around the world. On the other hand, not everyone can digest dairy products. So like everything with nutrition, you need to figure out for yourself whether you should drink milk and consume other dairy products.

For me, I have found dairy products have a positive benefit for my health. This may or may not be the case for you. But don’t just avoid dairy because you’ve read in some book that you should!

If you really don’t digest dairy well you do not have to eat it. Just be sure it is not a sign of a weakened digestive system. If so, you should work on improving your digestion so you can include dairy products if you wish.

The inspiring story of Jordan Rubin

Jordan Rubin age 19 (left) and age 20 (right). What a transformation!

Jordan Rubin, founder of Beyond Organic, had Chron’s disease at the age of 19. He was wasting away, confined to a wheelchair. Doctors told him there was no cure and he would probably need to have his colon removed.

Jordan was eating a raw vegan diet, which he thought was healthy. He eventually found a nutritionist in California who changed his diet radically. He started consuming lots of organic dairy products (mainly fermented such as yoghurt and kefir), grass fed beef and poultry, whole grains, fruits and vegetables (but minimized raw foods).

He gained 29 pounds in 40 days. By his 21st birthday he was tipping the scales at more than 180 pounds – no more digestive problems and ready to reclaim his life.

If you are struggling with any health issue, look at this ‘before and after’ photo of Jordan Rubin. Be encouraged. You CAN get well! Never lose faith. Miracles are possible.

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