Is Milk Healthy or Unhealthy?

Why Dr. Ginsburg recommends avoiding cow milk.

Unfortunately for all of us that love cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt, cream, ice cream… yes, milk is unhealthy. The literature of medical research is NOT singing its praises. Rather, it is full of warnings and about the effects and risks of cow milk and anything made from it.

Milk from sheep, goats, and other animals is different. Dairy alternatives (cheese, milk, frozen deserts, etc.) made from rice milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, and other vegetable-based milks avoid the problems of milk.

Only the National Dairy Council (a dairy marketing association) seems to be excited about it, using evidence that appears to us very one-sided and incomplete. Even the conservative USDA (Department of Agriculture) changed its food pyramid in 2010 to reduce emphasis on dairy.

We call it “milk” or “regular milk” but it’s actually cow breast milk, to help baby cows grow into big, heavy, slow, adult cows.

The following is a list of major issues that have plenty of evidence backing them up.

Raw milk and milk from grass-fed animals avoids some of these problems. Human breast milk has none of the these problems.

  • Cow milk contains casein, which stimulates allergies and causes cancer cells to multiply and spread.
  • Cow milk contains a hormone called IGF-1, naturally occurring in cow milk, which stimulates the body to make fat and gain weight, helping cows to grow very, very large. In humans it also causes the body to grow large and fat, as well as producing inflammation (which produces disease) and other unhealthy effects in the body such as excessive mucus, upper respiratory congestion, and possibly is a contributor to cancer. Human milk (breast milk) actually reduces inflammation and congestion in humans, and helps babies heal. Cow milk has the opposite effect.
  • Drinking cow milk produces mucus and phlegm, which can cause other problems. For example, the first step in treating a child with an ear infection is to eliminate all dairy.
  • More than any other food, cow milk provokes allergies, and has several different components to which you or your child may be allergic.
  • Cow milk does indeed have a lot of calcium, but in a form that is not well absorbed by humans. Vegetarian sources are better. Dairy products actually do not build stronger bones.
  • About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products. It can cause loose stools/diarrhea, distress or pain in the gut, bloating, gas, constipation, and bad breath from decaying milk in the stomach.
  • Whether it’s 1 cup of whole milk or 1 cup of skim, each serving has 12 grams of carbs–all of it in the form of sugar. That’s a lot, unless it’s desert. Skim milk, with less fat, has an even more sugary effect in your body than whole milk. Increasingly, it is recommended that diabetics avoid it, and we have noticed children that drink much of it seem to lose ability to taste the natural sweetness in healthy foods such as vegetables and other unsweetened foods. The children usually lose interest in these foods, saying they “don’t taste good”.

The above issues are real no matter where you get your milk, or whether the milk is organic, raw or pasteurized/homogenized.

Bad Breath and Digestive Problems
If you notice you have chronic bad breath, try eliminating milk, milk products, and foods with milk in them. This often makes a huge improvement. The bad breath is a sign that you are not able to digest the milk, and it is turning foul in your stomach.

Even if you could digest milk as a child, you can lose the ability to digest milk at any point. For many, it occurs around the age of weaning from the mother’s breast, and most don’t realize they have lost that ability. They do not connect the symptoms, which can include bloating, gas, diarrhea, loose stools, and abdominal cramping with continued consumption of milk.

Lactose intolerance (leading to the inability to digest milk) is only one of the possible causes of milk sensitivity or milk allergy. And all the effects listed above occur regardless whether you are lactose intolerant or not.

Living in the Real World
While all this is true, we still believe in occasional indulgences with tasty, fun foods. This can mean going out for ice cream on occasion with your family, eating quality cheeses while traveling or at a party.

But for day to day eating, we choose to remove milk products from regular eating, and are especially fond of coconut milk products.

Milk Alternatives
So you get it – cow milk from factory farms is not so good for you. Cow milk exists in different levels of healthiness based on how the cow lived and was treated. There are a variety of vegetarian milk alternatives that can be excellent. These include milks like almond, coconut, soy, flax, hemp, rice, and others.

Conventional cow milk has a variety of problems. Organic cow milk is much improved, lacking pesticides and some other aspects of conventional factory farming.

Milk from free range cows is even better, despite not being organic. Their diet is much more of the cow’s choosing, based on what they crave and need for their own health. Milk from pasture-fed, free-range and organic cows is more nutritious than that from cows kept indoors and fed cereal (corn) rations. The fats in the milk are the healthy ones, higher in omega 3 and lower in omega 6 oils, and with the correct ration between them.

Non organic will have additional problems due to the following items:

  • Antibiotics
    Although much of the milk supply seems to be free of antibiotics, there is suspicion that some factory farms are giving their cows illegal antibiotics that cannot be detected in the milk. They do this because they raise the cows in dirty, disease-prone, tiny, dark stalls.
  • Pesticides
    Milk is tested for contamination by pesticides, but the pesticides are allowed up to certain levels. There is reason to believe these levels are too high, and damaging, long term accumulation of pesticides occurs in the body tissues.
  • Other chemicals
    Up to twenty foreign chemicals introduced by factory farming can be found in cow milk and other dairy products. These include painkillers, growth hormones, anti-inflammatory drugs, niflumic acid, mefenamic acid, and ketoprofen, in addition to the pesticides and antibiotics mentioned above.

Some smaller farms, while not certified as organic, still have awareness of the hazards of these items, and may raise food differently. Know your local farms and how they produce food.

Milk from other kinds of animals, like goat milk. The milk of goats and sheep is more digestible, however it is difficult to find it in organic or free-range form. Nonetheless, it may give digestive relief for some people.

Vegetarian milk alternatives

There are many vegetarian milk alternatives to cow milk, made from foods humans have been eating for a very long time, and are therefore safe, since we’ve had hundreds of thousands of years to adapt to them.

Almond milk, hazelnut milk, hemp mil, flax milk, rice milk, oat milk, and coconut milk are all are tasty milk alternatives. But choose carefully, buying organic when possible. Some brands use a lot of sugar and not much good oil or protein. Read the labels. The fats and oils are not bad for you. In fact, you need good oils.

You can also make your own nut milk easily. The taste, quality and nutrition of such milk is superior to anything you can find on a store shelf, and will have less sugar than the store bought products that rely on sugar to give flavor.

We eliminate soy milk from consideration to avoid GMO soy, a dangerous food. Even now GMO genes have pollinated into all soy, even some organic. It is a chaotic situation that GMO foods have created. Those selling and promoting it seem to be unaware or uncaring of the danger.