Should You Really be Drinking Cow’s Milk?
24 January 2017
My approach to both nutrition and fitness is very much about personalisation – that is, to eat those foods and train in a way that works for your body specifically. We are all physically and genetically different so invariably our bodies will need contrasting foods for us to function optimally. I always like to present my readers with information that you yourselves can evaluate, so that when you are considering a particular lifestyle change, you are able to make an informed decision based on multiple sources of information. Therefore the notes I share with you are not prescriptive, but rather serve to aid you in making the best decision that makes the most sense for you personally. I recommend always reading information from a variety of sources so that you have multiple points of view from which you can then make your final decision.
When it comes to dairy, this is no different. Dairy works wonders for some, and for others it doesn’t work at all. If it works for you that’s great, but it’s also important to consider the greater landscape when deciding whether to continue eating a particular type of food – especially on a daily basis.
So should we really be drinking cows milk?
Within the nutrition arena, there are mixed opinions for just about every type of food, and dairy is no different. This is my personal viewpoint on dairy and why I choose not to include it as part of my daily food intake, based on the research I have done. I do however reiterate that you must always make your own decision about what you put into your body – at the end of the day its your body and no one else’s.
For me one of the most powerful pieces of information regarding dairy came from a documentary called Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (watch it some time…I highly recommend it!). One of the guest doctors, Dr Michael Klaper said something so simple, and it really hit home for me – because its simple and logical!
In summary, Dr Klaper argues that cows milk is packed with bovine specific hormones that are meant to help a calf grow into a fully grown cow, as quickly as possible. He also states that calves only consume the milk while they are young, and once they have reached a certain growth point, they cease their milk consumption and move over to a grass based diet. The concern here is that as humans, firstly we are consuming bovine produced milk (that is milk designed specifically by bovines, for bovine growth), and therefore, we are ingesting hormones that are intended for bovine (and not human) growth.
What about consuming milk post infancy?
We as humans persist with consuming milk long past the point at which is it intended. As infants, we consume milk from our mother to ensure that we grow and develop healthfully. This also means that our digestive systems at that point are equipped to consume milk – we have special enzymes to break that milk down and convert it into energy so that we can grow. When we move onto solid foods, our digestive systems adapt, and those milk enzymes are replaced with enzymes to break down solid foods.
Therefore from a biological stand point, it doesn’t make much sense for our bodies to be consuming milk post infant. This is arguably reason to conclude this could be why so many people are lactose intolerant.
The food industry has capitalised greatly on the notion of milk consumption and the production thereof, by creating countless dairy based products that yield huge profits for many production companies. The dairy market is massive, and therefore it is no surprise that diary itself has been incorporated as a food group. So often we take for granted that things just are the way they are – but its always important to ask why?!?
Why is dairy a food group to begin with?
If you think about the rest of the food we eat (and I am not referring to processed foods here), fruit and vegetables come from the earth – on a basic level (when farmed organically), they are easy to access and don’t require any major processing to grow. The same goes for nuts, seeds and grains – these need to be harvested and in certain cases cooked, but still keep the same form. Animal protein such as meat, chicken and fish, and the hunting thereof dates back to our primitive existence, so it follows that this would sensibly form part of a healthy human diet.
Dairy however does not follow on any of the above examples – dairy is not a food that occurs in nature on its own, rather it is an animal by product that (particularly in modern times) is extracted, processed, divided into curds and whey, and re-engineered to form completely new man-made products, such as cheese, and yoghurt. There is a lot that has to be done in order for to get cow milk to the final products we see all over supermarket shelves.
Furthermore, consuming cow’s milk containing bovine growth hormone doesn’t seem to be the best idea either given that these hormones can negatively enhance our growth and development.
We need to remember that our endocrine system (hormones) regulates all processes in our bodies. Therefore if we consume foods that negatively impact or interfere with this system, this can wreak havoc to our wellbeing, our weight and even our mental health.
I do believe that natural selection enables us to evolve to better survive and flourish within our environments, so cow’s milk for some may not necessarily be as problematic i.e.: some of us may have evolved to more easily digest cow’s milk, but that does not take away the issue of the bovine hormones that are still being consumed.
For me, I prefer to eat foods that to me make the most sense for my health and longevity. There are too many rational and logical reasons not to drink milk and while I do have it occasionally, I don’t think it is something that we should be included in our everyday diets. There are also so many milk alternatives such as coconut yoghurt, cashew cheese, coconut milk and cream, almond milk and rice milk to name a few…and these taste great, so it’s not all that difficult to reduce your daily dairy consumption.
What are your thoughts and opinions on consuming dairy?
Yours in Health Always