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There are many problems with the modern diet. Too much processing, genetically modified crops, preservatives, transfats and high amounts of added sugar present a real and direct threat to health and longevity.
Ancient Chinese medicine accounts warn of the deadly effects of milk and dairy. Yet, this is clearly ignored in modern Western countries. But now a new study sheds light on the myths associated with milk and its frequent consumption, and how drinking the substance is actually a threat to longevity.
The basic milk premise is flawed
The basic premise of humans drinking milk over a lifetime goes against nature. To begin with, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does recommend that babies breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life. Numerous studies point to the vast benefits to the immune system and overall health into adulthood among those who were breastfed.
However, at about 6 months of age babies need to begin solid food, and by age 1 may or may not continue breast feeding. Just how long children require their mother’s milk is a point of debate. Many say one year, others say two, and those speaking of emotional needs (as opposed to physical needs) say to do it for as long as you and your baby feel it is the right choice. While this is not specific, it does indicate that, for example, from the age of say four an upward the consumption of mother’s milk is not even a point of discussion.
The next point to consider is that no other animal drinks its mother’s milk past infancy. Moreover, no animal in the world drinks the milk of another species. Well, except humans.
At this point, we can clearly see two main problems with drinking milk. 1) No Human drinks its mother’s milk past pre-school age; and 2) No animal drinks the milk of another species. And yet, humans both drink the milk of another species and do so throughout their lifetime.
Health risks associated with milk consumption
There are many negative health factors associated with the consumption of milk and dairy products. Since most humans do not have the basic enzymes necessary to digest milk properly, the body lashes out with indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (UBS), lactose intolerance, brittle bones, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, shorter life span and ailments.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says it simply: “Many Americans, including some vegetarians, still consume substantial amounts of dairy products—and government policies still promote them—despite scientific evidence that questions their health benefits and indicates their potential health risks.” Let’s look at a review of their research. References to numerous studies regarding each of these areas are found on their site.
Bone Health – Yes, our bones need calcium to keep strong and prevent fracture. However, our bodies only require 600 mg per day of calcium to refresh the calcium in bones, and this is easy enough to consume without milk. Once we have consumed that baseline of calcium the additional intake (consumed mostly from dairy) has no benefit for bones, including protection from stress fractures in children and fractures in woman.
Cardiovascular Health – While it is true that dairy contains calcium and other nutrients, it also contains significant amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat. People who consume food high in saturated fats increase their risk of heart disease.
Cancer – Cancers of the reproductive systems (i.e., breast and prostate cancer) have been linked to intake of dairy. Again, back to the Physicians Committee’s clear explanation: “The danger of dairy product consumption as it relates to prostate and breast cancers is most likely related to increases in insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which is found in cow’s milk,” consumption of which “has been shown to increase circulating levels of IGF-1. Perhaps the most convincing association between IGF-1 levels and cancer risk is seen in studies of prostate cancer.”
Those three health concerns associated with milk consumption should be enough to deter anyone from drinking milk; not to mention that cows are often fed GMO corn and other crops sprayed with toxic herbicides and pesticides no human should consume. Sick cows are treated with antibiotics and these, as well as other toxins, like dioxin, are then consumed by humans via cow’s milk.
The ancient Chinese knew better
None of this information is new. In fact, along with acupuncture, the ancient Chinese also had in place a medicated diet system. That is, they divided food into several categories based on its action in the body. Is it warming or cooling or drying or moistening? And such categories were used when looking to alter a meal to help someone overcome symptoms like heat stroke, shills, fever, inflammation and so on. So when you were sick, the foods that sustain the ailment were removed for a time and the foods that would help rebalance the body were added to the daily diet of the person in question. However, nowhere in the vast flavors of Chinese food is found dairy.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) there is a theory of illness based on the concept of phlegm, or sticky fluids, as being the bane of good health. As such, milk and dairy products are avoided by the Chinese (until recent Western diets entered the market), because they are viewed as forming phlegm and congestion in the lungs, intestines and other organs.
The main theory of TCM that comes into play is “where there is free flow there is no pain; and where is pain, there is no free flow.” In other words, dairy creates a phlegm blockage in the body, much like glue would block up a sponge. And when the organs cannot move out toxins because of blockages, there comes pain, illness and disease. Interestingly, the ancient Chinese medical texts directly link the consumption of dairy with breast and prostate cancers—associating “cancer” (which they had no name for) as a “phlegm disease.” And this resonates with the current studies linking these two cancers with consumption of cow’s milk.
So why milk then?
If it is not ‘normal’ for one species to drink the milk of another species, and if it is not natural for a species to keep consuming the milk of its own species after infancy, and if dairy is associated with so many health concerns, then how and why did humans begin doing it?
Well, it happened alongside domestication of animals and the need for more vitamin D. According to research led by UCL (University College London), “the ability to digest the milk sugar lactose first evolved in dairy farming communities in central Europe… around 7,500 years ago.” However, according to UCL’s Professor Mark Thomas, “Most adults worldwide do not produce the enzyme lactase and so are unable to digest the milk sugar lactose. However, most Europeans continue to produce lactase throughout their life, a characteristic known as lactase persistence. In Europe, a single genetic change (13,910*T) is strongly associated with lactase persistence and appears to have given people with it a big survival advantage.”
Latest study says milk is killing us
If all of this is not enough to turn you off to milk and dairy products, let’s take a look at the latest cohort study on the subject, published in the British Medical Journal. The study examined whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in women and men and consisted of two large Swedish cohorts (one with 61,433 women; the other with 45,339 men). The results after a mean follow-up of 20.1 years (female group) and 11.2 years (male group)?
- In the female cohort — 15,541 women died and 17,252 had a fracture.
- In the male cohort — 10,112 men died and 5,066 had a fracture.
- Conclusion — High milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women.
According to the study, the negative effects of milk and dairy are associated with D-galactose. “Experimental evidence in several animal species indicates that chronic exposure to D-galactose is deleterious to health and the addition of D-galactose by injections or in the diet is an established animal model of aging.”
Other researchers have noted the protein casein found in milk is responsible for cancer and other serious health risks. More on this is found in the insightful book, The China Study.
So what to do now? The advertisers tell us “milk does a body good,” and the dietary guidelines tell us dairy is a “food group” that is important for calcium and growth. Yet, the ancients warned to avoid dairy so much so that not a single dairy item can be found on a Chinese food menu even in modern times. And the research keeps piling up that milk does more harm and little, if any, actual good.
I stopped consuming dairy as a daily staple years ago. My suggestion is that we heed ancient wisdom and modern science, both of which tell of the negative risks of consuming too much dairy. Instead, we should look to milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and so on as we do alcohol and sugar. They taste good and make us feel better psychologically while consuming them, but do us harm in excess and over time. Moderation is the key. Perhaps even total avoidance is best.