Myth: “Milk and dairy build strong bones.”
The most powerful industry in America is the dairy industry, earning over $50 billion and spending over $200 million annually to spread the lie that dairy products are necessary for human children’s health. They’re smart enough to target mothers (and they started, very successfully, with our grandmothers), because they can create habits for life if a child is drinking cow’s milk at an early age.
So, while for many this will be a revelation, it shouldn’t be: our mothers were conned! The idea that the milk of another species is an appropriate and necessary source of calcium is a serious thinking error that has led to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and autoimmune disease in epic numbers. Especially when you consider the atrocious diet our dairy cows are fed, the steroids and hormones and antibiotics they’re given, the lack of exercise they get as they are penned for life, and the blood and pus that comes out in the milk that you then serve your child.
Ask yourself why the U.S. consumes more than double the amount of milk and dairy than the #2 milk-drinking country—and yet has one of the highest rate of osteoporosis (and massive dental decay, despite the best dental-care system) in the world. The other highest osteoporosis countries are—that’s right, the other highest milk-drinking countries (in Europe and Scandinavia). Africa doesn’t drink the milk of cows and has essentially no brittle bones. Drinking milk is not leading to strong bones and teeth–it never did, except for baby cows.
Colin T. Campbell, PhD, one of the most preeminent nutrition researchers in the world, conducted the most comprehensive, longitudinal research study in history (still ongoing) known as the Oxford-Cornell China Project. The New York Times dubbed it “the Grand Prix of Epidemiology.” Published in 2004, The China Study examined dietary habits and disease rates in 6,500 adults in China over almost 30 years.
Campbell started with animal studies duplicated by other researchers all over the world and progressed to his enormous human population. The researchers documented massive evidence that casein (the protein in milk) is linked to high rates of disease when ingested at a rate of 20 percent of the diet, which is the American average. He documents very low rates of those same diseases in subjects eating only 5% or less animal protein. The protein in all the studies, animal and human, was casein. Eight thousand statistically significant correlations resulted from this study. (“Statistically significant” means the likelihood the finding is due to chance is less than 5 percent.) These findings definitively decimate American mothers’ nutrition beliefs that feeding their children dairy products will build strong bones and good health.
Human calcium deficiency diseases are extremely rare for anyone on any type of natural diet. Our need for calcium is relatively low, in fact, and mothers needn’t worry about pushing on their children massive amounts of cow’s milk (often genetically modified and full of hormones and antibiotics).
I raised all four of my children without cow’s milk, and only one of them has ever broken a bone (when she was pushed off the top of a slide, and she healed very quickly), despite all of them being competitive athletes and therefore constantly in injury-prone situations.
I personally have never drunk a glass of cow’s milk in my life, and at 45 years old, I was measured to have the bone mass of a very healthy 20-yr. old. I did feed my children a little raw goat’s milk and homemade goat yogurt as they were being weaned from breast milk, and I continue to do so.
Goat milk more closely resembles human breast milk; it also has a smaller fat molecule that permeates the human semi-permeable membranes without being mucus forming. Additionally, fermented milk proteins like kefir and yogurt are predigested and often cause no problems even for those who are lactose intolerant. I asked Dr. Campbell personally about his opinion of goat milk, as well as of kefir and yogurt, and he said that his research did not address it, and allowed for the possibility that they are good foods for humans.
Cow milk’s large fat molecule is acid- and mucus-forming in humans; thus we are all “lactose intolerant” to one degree or another. Our grandparents, with their strong genetics, withstood it well. Unfortunately, our own children with three generations of weakened genetics, are not faring so well. Every time I see a child with green snot running from his nose, I wish I could in some socially acceptable way beg his mother to get her child off cow’s milk.
I have counseled willing mothers about this many times, and every time the mothers reported that the mucous problems disappeared or decreased as they eliminated dairy products. Related asthma and allergies dramatically decreased as well. (Eliminating sugar at the same time, as well, is a very wise idea. It, too, is highly acid—and therefore mucous-forming.)
Fact: Baby humans need human breast milk until their eyeteeth come in at about 18 months (at which time they begin producing digestive enzymes to break down table food). Only baby cows need cow milk. Nothing replaces human breast milk for infants 0-18 months. The best alternative, if breastfeeding is impossible, is raw goat milk (and definitely not soy milk). Get your calcium from leafy greens, as nutrition from dairy products is bioavailable to cows but not humans.