Is there any health reason at all for an adult human to
drink cows' milk?
It's hard for me to come up with even one good reason
other than simple preference. But if you try hard, in my opinion, these
would be the best two: milk is a source of calcium and it's a source of
amino acids (proteins).
Let's look at the calcium first. Why are we concerned at
all about calcium? Obviously, we intend it to build strong bones and
protect us against osteoporosis. And no doubt about it, milk is loaded
with calcium. But is it a good calcium source for humans? I think not.
These are the reasons. Excessive amounts of dairy products actually
interfere with calcium absorption. Secondly, the excess of protein that
the milk provides is a major cause of the osteoporosis problem. Dr.
Hegsted in England has been writing for years about the geographical
distribution of osteoporosis. It seems that the countries with the highest
intake of dairy products are invariably the countries with the most
osteoporosis. He feels that milk is a cause of osteoporosis. Reasons to be
Numerous studies have shown that the level of calcium
ingestion and especially calcium supplementation has no effect whatever on
the development of osteoporosis. The most important such article appeared
recently in the British Journal of Medicine where the long arm of our
dairy industry can't reach. Another study in the United States actually
showed a worsening in calcium balance in post-menopausal women given three
8-ounce glasses of cows' milk per day. (Am. Journal of Clin. Nutrition,
1985). The effects of hormone, gender, weight bearing on the axial bones,
and in particular protein intake, are critically important. Another
observation that may be helpful to our analysis is to note the absence of
any recorded dietary deficiencies of calcium among people living on a
natural diet without milk.
For the key to the osteoporosis riddle, don't look at
calcium, look at protein. Consider these two contrasting groups. Eskimos
have an exceptionally high protein intake estimated at 25 percent of total
calories. They also have a high calcium intake at 2,500 mg/day. Their
osteoporosis is among the worst in the world. The other instructive group
are the Bantus of South Africa. They have a 12 percent protein diet ,
mostly plant protein, and only 200 to 350 mg/day of calcium, about half
our women's intake. The women have virtually no osteoporosis despite
bearing six or more children and nursing them for prolonged periods! When
African women immigrate to the United States, do they develop
osteoporosis? The answer is yes, but not quite are much as Caucasian or
Asian women. Thus, there is a genetic difference that is modified by diet.
To answer the obvious question, "Well, where do you get
your calcium?" The answer is: "From exactly the same place the cow gets
the calcium, from green things that grow in the ground," mainly from leafy
vegetables. After all, elephants and rhinos develop their huge bones
(after being weaned) by eating green leafy plants, so do horses.
Carnivorous animals also do quite nicely without leafy plants. It seems
that all of earth's mammals do well if they live in harmony with their
genetic programming and natural food. Only humans living an affluent life
style have rampant osteoporosis.
If animal references do not convince you, think of the
several billion humans on this earth who have never seen cows' milk.
Wouldn't you think osteoporosis would be prevalent in this huge group? The
dairy people would suggest this but the truth is exactly the opposite.
They have far less than that seen in the countries where dairy products
are commonly consumed. It is the subject of another paper, but the truly
significant determinants of osteoporosis are grossly excessive protein
intakes and lack of weight bearing on long bones, both taking place over
decades. Hormones play a secondary, but not trivial role in women. Milk is
a deterrent to good bone health.
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