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MILK! Is it doing your body good?
HEALTH, January 2010, by Jennifer Papaconstantinou
Is it doing your body good?
You may have heard that milk “does the body good.” But does it really? Let’s take a look at some science behind consuming dairy products.
Mother’s milk (the human kind) is the perfect food for growing human babies, whereas cow’s milk is the perfect food for… well, growing baby COWS of course! You may have 'herd' that we’re the only species that drink another species' milk. So why exactly do we do that? One reason is that we are taught that cow's milk is an important source (some say the best source) of calcium. Although milk does in fact contain calcium, by the time it gets to your fridge it's not the same as it was at the farm! Read on...
Kill the bad stuff… and the good?
Have you ever heard of ‘pasteurization'? You’ll find that word on your milk cartons. If a product has been pasteurized it means it has been heated to very, very high temperatures in order to kill bacteria and inhibit enzyme reactions. Good right? Well, except that this process unfortunately also reduces the amount of the calcium left in the milk.
Trading calcium for calcium... say wha??
Here is a cool mini-lesson in ‘food science’. Foods and other substances can be measured by their pH value. Have you learned the pH Scale at school? pH stands for ‘potential of hydrogen’ and is a measure of acidity. Yes, acidity, as in a battery!
Foods are classified as being alkaline-forming or acid-forming. This gives a measure of what happens inside of our bodies upon consumption (eating or drinking) of our food.
Acid-forming foods create an acidic reaction after you eat them. Well guess what your body uses to to neutralize that acidity? Calcium! Now take a guess whether dairy products are acid- or alkaline-forming? If you guessed acid-forming you are right.
So this means that while we are trying to gain more calcium from consuming dairy products, like milk, consuming them actually requires the body to USE UP some of the calcium we already have in order to neutralize its acid content! Hmm...something to think about!
More cool stuff in milk!
Casein is the protein found in milk. Cow's milk contains much higher protein/casein content than human mother’s milk. There are two concerns with this fact:
• First – it's a known fact that only proteins cause 'food' allergies. You can only have a true allergic reaction when there is a protein involved. Milk is known as the number one cause of food allergies and sensitivities (see below).
• Second – casein is known to be habit-forming. Without getting too technical, when casein breaks down in the intestines, a part of what is formed is something called casomorphine which has a drug-like effect on your body and brain. This means that dairy products, which have a high content of casein, can prove to be quite habit-forming! Cheese has the most casein. (Know anyone who just LOVES cheese? Could it be the casomorphine in it?).
What about Lactose?
Ah yes, you’ve likely heard people say that they are ‘lactose intolerant’. Well, lact'O'se is the milk sugar or carbohydrate content of milk. Lact'A'se is the enzyme in the body required to break down and digest the lactose. Did you know that 70-90% of the world's population do not produce lactase?! All mammals in the animal kingdom - including humans - stop producing lactase at the time when they are to be weaned from their mothers! Without lactase, you can have reactions when consuming milk or dairy products such as stomach cramps, bloating, gas or diarrhea. Considering that such a high percentage of the population doesn’t produce lactase, I'd say being ‘Lactose Intolerant’ is considered normal! It may be perceived to sound like a disease, however there is really nothing abnormal about being lactose intolerant!
Allergies & Mucous – gross!
If you suffer from chronic runny noses and sore throats, it may be due to a dairy allergy. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, cow’s milk is the number one cause of food allergies and sensitivities. According to Dr. Frank Oski, the former director of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, there is evidence to indicate that up to half of U.S. children have some allergic reaction to milk. Milk is very mucous-forming and can lead to continual problems like chronic coughs and sinus infections, asthma, ear infections and even acne.
It has been accepted that removing dairy products from the diet may be a solution to many childhood illnesses such as runny noses, constipation, colic, ear infections, gas, respiratory illnesses—and the list goes on.
As always, I recommend balance. It is important to remember to eat a variety of foods each day. I find that on average, people eat only sixteen different food items. Dairy and wheat are the most widely consumed foods and may be causing you the most troubles. Try different milks like goat, almond, rice, hemp, or soy. Switch them up and give your body some alternatives. Substitute them where you would normally use cow's milk and add them to your favourite cereals.
As for Calcium...
It is the most abundant mineral in the body and functions with many others to build and maintain healthy, strong bones and teeth. It aids in regulating heartbeat, muscle development and function, protects against blood clotting, and aids nerve transmissions and enzyme functions.
Calcium REALLY IS important to your health! While you may have believed that milk was the ONLY place to find a good source of calcium you'll be happy to know that it can actually be found in EVERY single natural food we eat.
Tiny little sesame seeds pack quite a calcium punch, along with dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collard greens, parsley, spinach, mustard greens, dried spices such as savory, and almonds.
There are a lot of healthy choices. You have to moo, I mean do, what’s best for you!
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