The milk myth has spread around the world based on the flawed belief that this protein and calcium-rich drink supports good overall health and bone health. It is easy to understand that the confusion about milk’s imaginary benefits stems from the fact that it contains calcium – around 300 mg per cup.
But many scientific studies have shown detrimental health effects directly linked to milk consumption. And the most surprising link is that not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones.
And to think my mother once made me sit at the table all night until I finished my meal of spaghetti and a glass of milk. Dear God.
Here’s how it happens. Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a biological correction. Calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is in the bones. So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, so that the surprising net result after this is an actual calcium deficit.
So, What exactly is happening when you drink Milk?
Like any other animal derived protein-rich food, milk has a positive potential renal acid load which triggers a protective biological reaction to neutralize all the damaging acidic protein before it reaches the kidneys.
The body is designed for survival, so it sacrifices bone density to protect the kidneys and urinary tract because the latter are essential to survival. And the most readily available source of acid neutralizer is in the bones. So even though milk contains calcium, it ends up sapping your bones of that crucial mineral.
Also, most milk is a processed food.
Until the end of the 19th century in Europe and the beginning of the 20th century in the US, milk was consumed unpasteurized or raw. Later on, homogenization became the industry’s standard. These processes further alter milk’s chemistry and actually increase its detrimental acidifying effects.
Raw milk advocates claim that if cow’s milk is left “as is” it is a healthy and wholesome drink. It is true that raw milk is less acidifying than processed milk and that pasteurization and homogenization may cause a long list of digestive and other health problems, but it’s still not great.
Nowadays, milking cows are given antibiotics and most are also injected with a genetically engineered form of bovine growth hormone (rBGH). A man-made or synthetic hormone used to artificially increase milk production, rBGH also increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in those who drink it. And higher levels of IGF-1 are linked to several cancers.
Bottom line, avoid drinking cow’s milk.
Hold on, let’s be clear.
Unsweetened fermented or cultured dairy products such as yogurt, kefir, and sour cream are acid neutral. Yogurt in particular is chock-full of beneficial qualities. As is the case with milk, organic yogurt does not have rBGH, but even several of the most well-known yogurt brands have stopped using the bovine growth hormone (rBGH). When in doubt, call your favorite yogurt company to confirm. One more clarification: when I say unsweetened I mean without sugar or any artificial sweetener. However, you can add honey or stevia, a zero calorie plant-derived sweetener that is delicious and alkalizing as well.
Another reason. Cow’s milk is for calves.
Nobody can dispute that cow’s milk is an excellent food source for calves. Weighing around 100 pounds at birth, a calf typically gains approximately eight times its weight by the time it is weaned. But unlike humans, once calves are weaned, they never drink milk again. And the same applies to every mammalian species on this planet.
Also, each mammalian species has its own “designer” milk, and cow’s milk is no exception. For example, cow’s milk contains on average three times the amount of protein than human milk which creates metabolic disturbances in humans that have detrimental bone health consequences.
It’s important to bear in mind that mother’s milk is excellent nourishment for human babies, but its composition is very different from cow’s milk.
The best milk substitutes.
I love unsweetened almond milk, not only because it is alkalizing, but also because it’s delicious and tastes very similar to milk. You can even cook with it! And it’s easy to make your own.
If almond milk is hard to get, you can also try rice or soy milk. Def. go for organic soy milk to avoid genetically modified soy. There is also some controversy about unfermented soy products, so try to use it in moderation.
You can also come visit us at the Squeeze to try some of our delicious drinks featuring nut milks. “Don’t Cry Over Spiced Milk” is my favorite and it’s awesome in coffee as a milk substitute.
Also note, there is calcium hiding in many of your favorite vegetables. Do the research and find some good substitutes.
So that’s what’s up with milk.
The Squeeze’s Health and Marketing Pioneer at The Mercedes Club