IS ALL MILK THE SAME?
Then there is the matter of where we get our milk. We
have settled on the cow because of its docile nature, its size, and its
abundant milk supply. Somehow this choice seems "normal" and blessed by
nature, our culture, and our customs. But is it natural? Is it wise to
drink the milk of another species of mammal?
Consider for a moment, if it was possible, to drink the
milk of a mammal other than a cow, let's say a rat. Or perhaps the milk of
a dog would be more to your liking. Possibly some horse milk or cat milk.
Do you get the idea? Well, I'm not serious about this, except to suggest
that human milk is for human infants, dogs' milk is for pups, cows' milk
is for calves, cats' milk is for kittens, and so forth. Clearly, this is
the way nature intends it. Just use your own good judgement on this one.
Milk is not just milk. The milk of every species of
mammal is unique and specifically tailored to the requirements of that
animal. For example, cows' milk is very much richer in protein than human
milk. Three to four times as much. It has five to seven times the mineral
content. However, it is markedly deficient in essential fatty acids when
compared to human mothers' milk. Mothers' milk has six to ten times as
much of the essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid.
(Incidentally, skimmed cow's milk has no linoleic acid). It simply is not
designed for humans.
Food is not just food, and milk is not just milk. It is
not only the proper amount of food but the proper qualitative composition
that is critical for the very best in health and growth. Biochemists and
physiologists - and rarely medical doctors - are gradually learning that
foods contain the crucial elements that allow a particular species to
develop its unique specializations.
Clearly, our specialization is for advanced neurological
development and delicate neuromuscular control. We do not have much need
of massive skeletal growth or huge muscle groups as does a calf. Think of
the difference between the demands make on the human hand and the demands
on a cow's hoof. Human new-borns specifically need critical material for
their brains, spinal cord and nerves.
Can mother's milk increase intelligence? It seems that
it can. In a remarkable study published in Lancet during 1992 (Vol. 339,
p. 261-4), a group of British workers randomly placed premature infants
into two groups. One group received a proper formula, the other group
received human breast milk. Both fluids were given by stomach tube. These
children were followed up for over 10 years. In intelligence testing, the
human milk children averaged 10 IQ points higher! Well, why not? Why
wouldn't the correct building blocks for the rapidly maturing and growing
brain have a positive effect?
In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1982)
Ralph Holman described an infant who developed profound neurological
disease while being nourished by intravenous fluids only. The fluids used
contained only linoleic acid - just one of the essential fatty acids. When
the other, alpha linoleic acid, was added to the intravenous fluids the
neurological disorders cleared.
In the same journal five years later Bjerve, Mostad and
Thoresen, working in Norway found exactly the same problem in adult
patients on long term gastric tube feeding.
In 1930 Dr. G.O. Burr in Minnesota working with rats
found that linoleic acid deficiencies created a deficiency syndrome. Why
is this mentioned? In the early 1960s pediatricians found skin lesions in
children fed formulas without the same linoleic acid. Remembering the
research, the addition of the acid to the formula cured the problem.
Essential fatty acids are just that and cows' milk is markedly deficient
in these when compared to human milk.
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