Milk – Drink with Caution

Americans consume the most cows’ milk and yet still have one of the highest osteoporosis rates out of all countries!  Why?  Because eating animal products makes our body acidic and our bodies thrive in an alkaline environment.  Our bodies cannot operate in an acidic environment so our bodies then grab calcium out of our bones in order to absorb it.  I eat meat and dairy products myself, but it’s all about moderation.  Unfortunately, we are taught that the best (or even the only!) source for calcium is cow’s milk.  When I found out I was pregnant and went for my initial visit, they gave me a handout on nutrition.  It listed American cheese as the top source of calcium!  Really, they pick the cheese that is so processed it doesn’t even taste like cheese anymore?!  We are not taught about how much calcium is in green leafy vegetables such as kale and other things that are great for you, and I think advertising has a lot to do with that.

The Dairy Council is a MARKETING council; that is their job, not health or regulation or safety, but marketing – which is why there are so many milk ad campaigns.  Now, I don’t think advertising is a bad thing.  I think it’s great for kids to know where milk comes from and visit healthy cows on humane farms, but there is a misconception that dairy products are the only source for calcium and that is just not true.

Milk does not have many nutrients after it is pasteurized.  Raw milk is much more nutritious but that is a controversial subject.  Raw milk products are hard to find since state laws are tricky and you usually have to buy directly from the farmer.

Vitamin D is needed in order for calcium to be absorbed.  There is only a little over 100 units of vitamin D in a glass of milk – most of us are deficient in vitamin D and need at least 1000 units daily – at the VERY least – newer recommendations are about 7000 units daily (but levels need to be monitored if you are taking doses that high).

Now here is where milk can get dangerous:  unless you buy organic grass fed milk, your milk will contain recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST) in order to boost milk production in the cow.  But this causes health problems in cows such as increased udder infections (so now you are needing antibiotics for the cows which ends up in your system as well, making your body resistant to certain antibiotics – so if you ever get a really bad infection, chances are higher that conventional antibiotics will not work for you).  rBGH also leads to higher levels of insulin-like growth factor in milk which can contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers in humans.  Also, since hormone use is inducing milk production during an unnatural phase of time, milk produced during this stage is of lower quality – it has increased fat content and decreased protein.

There is information to support that calcium supplements can increase heart attack risk.  This is newer information and there probably needs to be more studies done in order to really come up with a solid conclusion.  However, I think that is a sign that it may be better to get your calcium from natural whole food sources instead of in pill form.

It is your own personal choice to eat/drink animal products or not, but please be informed about the health of the animal you are eating and what unnatural things have been injected into it.  Some other ideas for good calcium sources are: kale, Chinese cabbage, spinach, rhubarb, wild salmon, beans (white, pinto, and red), bok choy, sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, dried figs, almonds and broccoli.

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3 thoughts on “Milk – Drink with Caution

  1. Hi I am trying to eat protein every 3 hours and I don’t eat meat because of these same reasons. I eat tons of green vegetables but I have been eating cottage cheese, eggs and yogurt because there is just not enough protein choices and I am losing body fat which is what I want. I do eat beans and almonds as well but I can’t eat them all day long. What do you recommend for protein choices?

  2. Like you mentioned, Jessica, beans and almonds/almond butter are good sources of protein. You can try lentils, kidney, black, pinto, refried, black-eyed, and lima beans (keep in mind there is a considerable amount of carbs in beans as well), and chickpeas (or hummus). Along with almonds, you can try cashews and pistachios. Sesame seeds also have quite a bit of protein.
    Other suggestions for proteins:
    Tofu – needs to be organic otherwise it is usually made with genetically modified soybeans
    Soy milk – make sure it’s not genetically modified. Also, there is some controversy on whether soy products are actually good for you or harmful, so use with caution.
    Tempeh – great for you since it is a fermented food
    Quinoa
    Seitan which is derived from the protein portion of wheat and used as a mock meat – have not tried this myself
    Spirulina which is a type of algae and found in many supplements/protein drinks
    There are some fruit and vegetable sources of protein as well: avocado, broccoli, spinach, peas, artichoke, and asparagus.
    If you do choose to eat meat, pick grass fed humanely raised beef, and pasture raised organic chicken. You can also try buffalo which is leaner than beef, and ostrich (pretty tasty!) – again, just make sure they were raised humanely and fed natural things. Same goes for eggs, you want organic ones whenever possible.
    Fish is another good option and I would go with wild caught. However, I recommend limiting fish to 1-2 times per week due to potential for contamination with toxins, even with wild caught fish, unfortunately.
    Again, dairy isn’t a bad thing, just make sure you are choosing wisely – organic and raw is the way to go whenever possible. The less processed the cheese the better (think ricotta, mozzarella, and goat cheese).
    Organic yogurt is a good choice for protein – especially Greek yogurt which is strained more times than regular yogurt and therefore has more protein. But watch out for artificial sweeteners which are often snuck into yogurts. And if you are worried about sugar, best to eat plain yogurts since flavored ones can contain quite a bit of sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
    Kefir is another great choice – also has benefits of probiotics and if you make it yourself using raw milk it’s that much better!

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