We see them everywhere: beautiful, white-mustached people in ads telling us how wonderful life is with milk. In my opinion, dairy foods should be placed on the official hazardous food list with their own surgeon general's warning.
I know what you're thinking. Is she kidding? Doesn't milk build strong bones and teeth? Doesn't it prevent osteoporosis? Won't we be as pretty as the stars in the ads if we gulp a few glasses?
Look, I love cows. They're cute and furry, with big, soulful eyes and gentle natures. But here's the deal. Each species that produces milk does so to nourish its young - its young - not anybody else's babies. Cow's milk is designed by nature to build a huge animal that matures quickly.
Human milk is designed to create humans - who mature slowly (very slowly sometimes) and who (the parents hope) aren't as large as cows and have independent natures.
Once considered to be the perfect food because of their concentrated nutrients, dairy products now are being questioned by many experts. Because the nutrients are so concentrated, the problems that dairy food creates read like a laundry list. Studies are beginning to show that dairy food is instrumental in causing compromised immune function, allergies, brittle bones, obesity and a variety of reproductive disorders.
Saturated fats and cholesterol in milk clog arteries, contributing to heart disease. To combat udder infection, dairy cows are fed antibiotics, which in turn attack the flora and villi in the intestines of the consumer, contributing to digestive trouble. The estrogen (and other hormones) being fed to dairy cows has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, as well as the onset of early puberty.
What about calcium? Milk is loaded with it, but it doesn't do us much good, as it is bonded to casein and lacks magnesium and potassium, making it largely unavailable to us. There's more. Milk protein is dense, causing a greater excretion of urea from the kidneys, depleting the body of calcium, magnesium and potassium, while making the blood highly acidic. Serum calcium in the blood balances the acid, depleting our store of calcium even more.
Organic milk isn't much better. Sure, there are fewer additives, but it's still milk. And no-fat? Better to drink whole milk. The fat will soften the impact of the protein on your organs.
So, is there life without dairy? Sure. Try going without them for a week. You'll see a difference in your well-being that you didn't think possible.
Written by Christina Pirello, natural foods expert and proponent of "Clean Cuisine," and the Emmy-award winning host of the national public television series "Christina Cooks" and the author of "Cooking the Whole Foods Way" and "Cook Your Way to the Life You Want."
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