Milk Mustache: Yes or No?

29 Jun

I must admit this little guy is cute.

Last week Two weeks ago (embarrassingly behind on my blog to-do posts) I posted some links about milk. I’m going to delve into my experiences with milk in the last couple of years, give you a little research to mull over and leave you to make your own conclusions. Or perhaps engage in your own experiment with the foods or liquids you consume.

For the last five years I’ve moved every 12-18 months due to school, work, etc. It took some time initially to adjust to the new environments and I’d have colds or allergy-like symptoms – nothing too serious. I noticed the same pattern when I moved to D.C. in 2008.  However, this time I felt more tired and the cold-like symptoms only worsened over time.

So… what’s a girl to do? I wanted to try to solve it myself before consulting a medical provider. I had a friend who had a holistic health provider help her identify foods she was allergic to and decided to proceed in a less formal manner. I did a little research on common allergens and compared the list to things I was eating. After knocking out meat for a couple of weeks, followed by nuts the symptoms did not diminish. I finally had to face the one I didn’t want to give up, dairy.

As a girl who grew up in the country, I had always been led to believe milk was essential for my health and development. It seemed contrary to defy this notion. I loved my morning cup of coffee with skim milk, string cheese and yogurt at lunch, a good tzatziki or charcuterie plate out… sampling cheese from the local grocer.

You get the picture. Dairy and I had encounters upwards of 4-5 times each day.

Back to the story… I found that for me dairy was the culprit. I’ve since eliminated milk from my diet and feel MUCH better. A little cheese occasionally, such as Parmesan, feta (both are strong cheeses and require a minimal amount for flavor) or goat versions of what I formerly loved. Milk is now solely almond milk and yogurt is infrequent and/or of the plain Greek variety. It’s been almost a year now since I stopped drinking milk, aside from the occasional cup of milk to aide me with the coffee that I can’t drink black. To be certain it was an aversion to dairy products I decided to “re-test” my dairy “wheys” (hee hee) a few weeks ago, for seven days. The exact same reactions and symptoms came back. Symptoms included slightly swollen eyes and an accumulation of mucus. Yuck.

There are many people out there who have had similar experiences. Here are just a few facts that make a compelling argument to not drink milk:

  • If you are of European descent you have a 9 in 10 chance of being lactose intolerant. 
  • Somewhat less than 40% of people in the world retain the ability to digest lactose after childhood. Other nationalities and ethnic groups that experience problems digesting milk: 5% of Asians, 25% of African and Caribbean peoples, and 50% of Mediterranean peoples.
  • No other species on earth continues to drink milk beyond its infancy. Calves stop drinking cow’s milk between the ages of six to eight months. Humans lose the ability to digest lactase, the sugar in milk, between the ages of two and five.
  • An overwhelming number of studies and research on milk are funded by the Dairy Council if you read the fine print (biased results?). The Dairy Council has an excellent marketing campaign to protect its interests ($$), not your health. 
  • Harvard School of Public Health, on the Consumption of Dairy Products (2005): “The recommendation to drink three glasses of low-fat milk or eat three servings of other dairy products per day to prevent osteoporosis is another step in the wrong direction. … Three glasses of low-fat milk add more than 300 calories a day. This is a real issue for the millions of Americans who are trying to control their weight. What’s more, millions of Americans are lactose intolerant, and even small amounts of milk or dairy products give them stomachaches, gas, or other problems. This recommendation ignores the lack of evidence for a link between consumption of dairy products and prevention of osteoporosis. It also ignores the possible increases in risk of ovarian cancer and prostate cancer associated with dairy products.”

Now… the Dairy Council would gasp and ask the question “where will you get your calcium?”. I will respond with seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits. The recommended level of calcium for adults age 19 through 50 years is 1000 mg per day. That can easily be achieved through alternative dietary sources (see chart below), especially foods that have magnesium in them, which is an important counterpart to calcium in doing its “thang” on the cellular level. Sunshine’s Vitamin D – which isn’t a vitamin, but actually a hormone – additionally helps unlock calcium for use in the body.

If I ever find myself concerned with my calcium intake … which I’m not given my diet and lack of drinking calcium-leeching substances (i.e. soda) … I have no problem taking a calcium supplement. Calcium has other critical functions aside from maintaining a healthy skeletal system and should not be neglected. As a woman the issue of bone density is important over the span of a lifetime. Bonus: Exercise, specifically weight-bearing exercise, is a big help in maintaining your bone density!

And stemming from my readings on eating raw foods/whole foods I’ve been becoming more and more thankful to have parted ways with milk. It’s a food that RFDD recommends cutting out, especially the mass-produced varieties (Natalia Rose devotes 4-5 pages to explaining her views of dairy… leave me a note if you want the full explanation). Essentially the undigested parts of pastuerized milk stay in the body over time because you cannot fully break down the protein molecules in milk. The undigested proteins stick around and can create a “toxic” situation.

I’m happy to continue discussions via email or comments below. Do you have any food allergies? In particular… dairy? Have you cut anything out of your diet and felt better as a result? Let me know what’s on your mind – looking for some interesting discussion.

One Response to “Milk Mustache: Yes or No?”

  1. Anonymous 7.7.2010 at 3:31 pm #

    From one of my friends! A global view of lactose intolerance. Left wondering if the U.S. map piece is accurate?

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