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Drinking Milk— It's Pros and Cons

Cow milk provides high-quality protein and are good sources of vitamin A, D, and B-12, and also riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and calcium[9].

However, authors like Reymond Francis[1] and Thierry Souccar[4] claim that milk's reputation as a highly nutritious food is undeserved; modern cow milk is a highly toxic and allergenic make-believe food. According to pediatrician Russel Bunai, M.D., in a 1994 issue of Natural Health, the one single change to the U.S. diet that could provide the greatest health benefits is the elimination of milk products. In the 1992 edition of his book Don't Drink Your Milk, Dr. Frank Oski said, "We should all stop drinking milk.... It was designed for calves, not for humans." For human babies, mother's milk is simply the best [3].  In the Swiss Detox Diet developed by Dr. Rau[6], all cow dairy products, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream are forbidden.  Finally, the Okinawans, one of the longest-lived people in the world, eat no dairy products[8].

Why these people have such opinions? Let's examine them below:
  • Milk is high in fat
  • Milk contains lactose, a sugar that many people over the age of five cannot easily digest
  • Milk's protein to which some people are allergic or sensitive
  • Milk's calcium doesn't seem to protect people against osteoporosis[25]
  • Milk contains rbST, antibiotics[10,19], and IGF-1

High in Fat

Milk is high in lipids.  Nearly 60% of the lipids in milk is saturated fat (see Table 1).  97–98% of lipids in milk are triacylglycrols.  However, there are also small amounts of di- and monoacylglycerols, free cholesterol and cholesterol esters, free fatty acids, and phospholipids (see Table 2).   In several studies, a diet high in saturated fats has been linked to insulin resistance[11]

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is made of the single sugars, glucose and galactose, linked together. An 8-ounce glass of milk contains about a tablespoon of lactose. Within a few years after weaning, most children stop making the lactase or do not make much of it. From an evolutionary perspective, the enzyme is no longer needed.

If your body does not make much lactase after childhood, any lactose you eat goes through your digestive tract as a double sugar. This sugar would just be excreted, except for one problem: intestinal bacteria. Bacterial digestion of lactose produces gas and small molecules that attract water into the intestines. If you are extremely sensitive to lactose, even a hint of dairy foods may upset your digestive system, or give you headaches, muscle pain, or dizziness.

Some studies show that the possibility that one of the components of lactose might be involved in development of ovarian cancer. This alarming suggestion comes from epidemiological observations: populations that drink the most milk on average, and have the greatest persistence of the lactase enzyme into adulthood, turn out to exhibit the highest rates of this cancer.

Milk's Proteins

Cow's milk contains at least 5 kinds of proteins that can cause allergic reactions in children and adults who are sensitive to them.[22] Milk proteins seem to be especially allergenic, perhaps because they are the first "foreign" proteins to which children are exposed.

Even if milk proteins do not cause allergies, they could-in theory-cause problems of "cross-reactivity." This means that your body might have an immune reaction to milk proteins and you might make antibodies to these proteins that could cross-react with your own body's proteins. This could cause you to develop an autoimmune disease of one kind or another. This idea came from observations of groups with autoimmune diseases.

The longer people had been breast-fed as infants, the less their chance of developing autoimmune conditions later in life. These observations, in turn, led to the idea that children fed cow's milk formulas might be more likely to develop Type I diabetes. Children with Type I diabetes often have antibodies against cow's milk proteins and these might have cross-reacted and destroyed the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

Milk's Calcium

In parts of the world where cow's milk is not a staple of the diet, people often have less osteoporosis and fewer bone fractures than we do; they maintain calcium balance perfectly well on less than half the calcium intake recommended for Americans. Why?
  • Perhaps people elsewhere eat less junk food than we do, less protein from meat and dairy foods, and less sodium from processed foods. When studies examine the effects of one nutrient at a time, they show that some nutrients—like protein, phosphorus, and sodium—promote calcium excretion.
  • Perhaps their diets help them retain calcium better. Nutrients like magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, and lactose promote calcium retention.
  • It may be an coincidence and the real reason might be that people who consume the most dairy foods are also inactive, smoke cigarettes, and drink too many soft drinks or too much alcohol (all of which are bad for bones).
Think of cows. Cows don't drink milk after calfhood, but they grow bones that fully support 800-pound weights and more. They do this by eating grass. Grass has calcium, and so does every other plant food: fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts. These foods may have small amounts of calcium in comparison to dairy products, but small amounts add up, and food plants have fewer substances that promote calcium losses. Overall, it may be a lot healthier for bones to get calcium from plant foods.

Hormones and Antibiotics

The dairy industry has achieved so-called efficiency by doubling the amount of milk obtained from each cow from 9,700 to 19,000 pounds per year by using hormones and antibiotics[13].  As a matter of fact, nearly 80 percent of the American antibiotics market goes for use in livestock, often for healthy animals[15]
  • To simulate greater milk production, dairy cows are treated with hormones such as rbST.
  • The more milk a cow produces, the greater the chance that her udders can become infected and that she will need antibiotics[10].
  • The fivefold increase in the number of cows on a typical dairy farm means that they live under more crowded conditions. Their wastes are more concentrated, they can spread infections more easily, and they need to be treated with antibiotics more often.
The antibiotics and hormones get into the milk, which can affect human health. Especially the effects on human health of a substance called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Treating cows with rbST increases the level of the IGF-1 in their milk. Cow's IGF-1 is identical to the human form of IGF-1.

Some IGF-1 protein could be absorbed intact into human body if protein digestion (which is broken down by stomach acid and digestive enzymes) does not work that well. Studies have linked high blood levels of IGF-1 to increases in the risk of cancers of the prostate in men and the breast in pre-menopausal women.  Cow milks are also possibly linked to autoimmune diseases.

Feed Your Infants with Breast Milk

Never feed infants with cow milk before 18 months [6].  Infants are born with relatively porous intestines, a natural version of what in adults we call "leaky gut syndrome."  If babies are fed with cow's milk, the milk passes right through the baby's gut and some of it is used as a nutrient while most of them, which are not found in human breast milk, are recognized as foreign substances by the part of the baby's immune system—Peyer's patches.  And when foreign proteins are detected, it produces powerful antigens against them.  After 18 months, baby's gut will close up and these large foreign protein molecules are stopped and digested before absorption, which are no longer allergenic.

As Dr Proctor[14] stated, there is a purpose for breast milk.  Breast milk is an important source of gut bacteria and it also contains nutrients that feed the bugs, called prebiotics.  Some breast milk compounds are actually meant to be consumed by the bugs.  Finally, breast milk also contains crucial antibiotics.  

For infants, mother's milk offers the best nourishment .  Breast-feeding a baby for 18 months to 2 years is a good way of ensuring the child's good health, especially for a strong immune system and prevention of allergies for life[17,18].

If You Decide to Drink Milk

If you drink milk at all, choose low-fat or none-fat organic ones. Nonfat milk retains most of the nutrients in whole milk, but hardly any of the calories or fat. The proteinminerals, and most vitamins dissolve in the watery part of the milk (i.e., the whey), and removing the fat does not reduce them very much.

You can also purchase whey protein which is sold in health food stores and on the shelves in the vitamin section of many supermarkets. It contains all the essential amino acids-and cysteine which is needed to make glutathione, one of the most potent antioxidants and detoxifiers in the body. When buying, you should look for one with 10 to 24 grams of protein per scoop and look for whey protein isolate (not the concentrate), which is over 90% whey protein and has very little lactose and fat, and if you can, try to find one that is organic.


  1. Never Be Sick Again by Raymond Francis, M. Sc.
  2. What to Eat by Marion Nestle.
  3. Mother's milk: ideal nutrient for human babies
  4. Milk, Lies and Propaganda by Thierry Souccar, MSc
  5. Building Strong Bones
  6. The Swiss Secret to Optimal Health by Thomas Rau, M.D.
  7. 不生病生活 有七大秘訣
  8. 20 Years Younger by Bob Greene.
  9. Milk and Dairy Products: A Unique Micronutrient Combination
  10. Commonly Used Antibiotics on Dairies
  11. 7 Foods That Spike Blood Sugar
  12. The Dangers of Drinking Cow’s Milk by Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND
  13. The Meat Industry Now Consumes Four-Fifths of All Antibiotics
  14. The Ins and Outs of Gut Bacteria
  15. When Are Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes "Superbugs?"
  16. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
  17. Dietary PUFA for preterm and term infants: review of clinical studies
    • Studies report that visual acuity of breast-fed infants may be better than that of formula-fed infants.
    • Cognitive development of breast-fed infants is generally better.
  18. Breast-fed babies are more socially connected, less anxious as adults, study finds
  19. Surprise! 60%  Milk Containing Harmful Compounds (Taiwan News; in Chinese)
  20. Breast milk is not the 'pure' food we thought
    • The first breast milk, known as colostrum, contains antibodies, live immune cells and anti-bacterial proteins and is very important for the new baby’s immune system.
  21. Calcium and Milk: What’s Best for Your Bones and Health? (Harvard)
  22. Latent bioactive peptides in milk proteins: proteolytic activation and significance in dairy processing
    • Initially, all domesticated cows produce only A2-beta casein in the milk.  Due to natural gene mutations (or maybe breeding), most cows today produce the A1 protein variants in the milk.
    • A1 and A2β-casein have different protein structure, A1 can produce β-chitinin-7 (BCM-7) during digestion, while A2 does not produce BCM-7.
    • BCM-7 is an exorphin that interacts with a wide variety of systems. 
      • A number of studies have shown that A1 or BCM-7 is associated with an increased risk of type 1 diabetes in some infants, immune response, digestive disorders, autism and respiratory dysfunction. Other studies have shown that A2β-casein does not produce BCM-7, similar to β-casein which found in breast milk.
  23. Milk metabolites and neurodegeneration: Is there crosstalk?
    • Metabolism of A1 form of β-casein leads to formation of β-Casomorphin, also popularly called as BCM7.
  24. The a2 milk company
  25. Is milk good for our bones? (video)
  26. Effect of fermentation on lactose, glucose, and galactose content in milk and suitability of fermented milk products for lactose intolerant individuals

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