The Milk Controversy – Is Cow’s Milk Good For Us?

Is Cow’s Milk Meant for Human Consumption?

Dairy milk has become a major target of criticism over the past few years due to its long lists of negative side effects. More and more health practitioners report that patients are allergic to dairy products or suffer from food intolerance to milk-containing foods. Eczema, asthma, migraine, constipation, hay fever, arthritis, stomach trouble, lymph edema, heart disease and testicular cancer are all linked with high consumption of dairy products.

One such case was Tim who had just turned 11 years old when his parents brought him to see me. He had developed asthma when he was five months old. The former treatment consisted of three different types of drugs, including cortisone and an inhaler. The boy’s condition worsened steadily and he developed herpes and other symptoms of high toxicity. Six months before his visit to me, Tim had caught a cold, which was treated with antibiotics. Since then his lungs showed strong signs of congestion. He complained about being tired all the time and unable to run or play with his friends. Kinesiology muscle testing revealed that Tim was highly allergic to milk or milk products. His parents confirmed that by the age of five months he was no longer breastfed but was instead given infant milk formula.

Tim’s asthma was caused by his body’s inability to break down the protein of cow’s milk. The fragments of undigested protein caused a strong immune response aggravating the entire mucus lining from the anus to the lungs. His condition was chronic because he consumed large quantities of animal protein, including milk and dairy products throughout his young life. After two weeks of abstinence from these foods, his asthma and herpes subsided and have never recurred since.

Could it be that cow’s milk is meant only for calves just as cat’s milk is meant only for kittens? Would we consider feeding our babies with, for example, dog’s milk instead of human breast milk? The ratio of nutrients contained in dog’s milk does not suit human requirements. Yet the same applies to cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains three times as much protein, and almost four times as much calcium as human mother’s milk. These amounts are unsuitable for the human physiology at any age.

Cow’s milk is designed to contain the exact amount of calcium and protein necessary to feed a calf that will end up being at least 3-4 times larger than the human body is. If we gave human breast milk to a calf, it would not grow strong enough even to survive. By contrast, human babies require more carbohydrates in the beginning stages of their lives than calves do. For this reason, in comparison to human mother’s milk, cow’s milk contains only half the amount of carbohydrates. Calves on the other hand require much more salt than human babies do; naturally, salt content in cow’s milk is three times higher than in human milk. It is for a good reason that most of the original populations living in Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America don’t regard cow’s milk as a food fit for human consumption.

Once weaned, mammals no longer look for milk to satisfy their hunger or thirst. If human babies, who have been breastfed for 14-18 months, were given the option of choosing from various types of natural and suitable foods, two out of three would no longer want breast milk as a food, according to classic study. Babies who are fed with cow’s milk tend to look puffy, bloated and fat. It is not uncommon for 1-year olds to have gallstones in the liver as a result of drinking, and not digesting, cow’s milk. Many of them suffer from colic, gas, and bloating, which makes them cry and develop sleeping disorders. Other problems include tonsillitis, ear-infections, breathing difficulties, excessive mucus discharge and drooling from the mouth.

Michael Klaper, M.D., and author of Vegan Nutrition: Pure & Simple, summarized the milk controversy as follows: “The human body has no more need for cows’ milk than it does for dogs’ milk, horses’ milk, or giraffes’ milk.”

Milk-caused Osteoporosis

Since milk intolerance is becoming increasingly common among all age groups in the Western world, nutritionists and doctors are starting to suspect that cow’s milk may not be such a natural food for humans after all.

Milk is a highly mucus-forming food that can cause irritation and congestion throughout the gastrointestinal tract. If regularly consumed, milk can leave an increasingly hardening and almost impermeable coating on the inside of the intestinal membranes. This restricts absorption of nutrients, including the calcium, magnesium and zinc needed to form bones. It is virtually impossible to successfully treat people with natural medicines as long as they continue to clog up their digestive systems with milk or dairy foods; the medicines are not able to penetrate the hardened layer of mucus in the intestines.

Most people wouldn’t drink milk if they weren’t so influenced by the myth that milk is essential for the bones. If you are prone to osteoporosis, or osteoarthritis, then consider the following facts:

  • Cow’s milk may be very rich in calcium but its high calcium to magnesium ratio can make it difficult to absorb. In certain people or body types, the calcium may be deposited in places where it is not required, hence, the development of calcification of bones and other parts of the body.
  • Most of the calcium contained in cow’s milk is bound by the milk chemical casein, which makes it far too crude for proper absorption by the human intestinal membranes. Cow’s milk contains 300 times more casein than human milk. You can get more absorbable calcium out of 6-8 almonds or a teaspoon of molasses than you can get from one liter of cow’s milk.
  • There is quantitatively more phosphorus in cow’s milk than there is calcium. To metabolize that much phosphorus, the body requires extra amounts of calcium, which it extracts from the bones, teeth and muscles. This leads to calcium deficiency in these parts of the body. To compensate the sudden loss of calcium, the body tries to mobilize more of it. As mentioned before, the body has several methods to manufacture the much-needed mineral. If the body depended totally on external supplies of calcium, 80 percent of today’s population would have lost at least one third of their bone mass by the age of 30. Because of this self-regulating mechanism, we are able to survive even extremely poor diets with very little calcium intake. We can even fast on distilled water for several weeks without developing a calcium deficiency (distilled water removes calcium from the body). Yet if the consumption of dairy foods continues for a long time, the calcium reserves get depleted faster than they can be replenished, leading to damage of the bone tissue.
  • Milk proteins contain about three times the amount of sulphur-containing amino acids than proteins from vegetable origin. Regular consumption of milk and dairy products would turn the blood acidic and kill it if the body didn’t mobilize large amounts of minerals to save itself from acid death. Yet, in the long term, this emergency measure leads to demineralization of the tissues and organs, and subsequent acidosis.
  • Storage of excessive amounts of milk protein in the connective tissues and basal membranes of the capillaries reduces the diffusion of essential minerals and vitamins to the tissues of the body. This causes a depletion of nutrients in the tissues, especially of those that form the bones and joints.

Cows maintain strong and hardy bones and teeth throughout their lives and get most of their calcium from the greens they eat. Gorillas, elephants and other strong animals also don’t suffer from osteoporosis. Occasionally they lick on limestone, but this is certainly not enough to supply the large quantities of calcium they require to build and rebuild their heavy skeletons. If milk were the most useful and important source of calcium for grown animals then nature would certainly have designed ways of supplying them with milk throughout their lives. But as it turns out, they have access to milk only at the beginning stages of their lives.

The human body requires large amounts of bile to digest whole milk. Drinking whole milk regularly can eventually exhaust the liver’s bile-producing capacity. Drinking low fat milk makes matters worse. Low fat milk requires less bile to digest the fat contained in the milk, yet milk protein cannot be digested without the naturally high concentrations of milk fat. Added to that, without sufficient bile, calcium cannot be properly digested or absorbed either. The large amounts of undigested milk protein increase acidity in the body and the unused crude milk calcium can cause calcification of joints, arteries and kidneys. This can make protein foods with lowered fat-content hazardous to health.

Leafy green vegetables contain four times more calcium than whole milk. There is also plenty of calcium in almonds, black molasses, sesame seeds, broccoli, Brazil nuts, millet, oats and citrus fruits. The calcium contained in these foods is readily absorbed by the human digestive system, provided the digestive system functions efficiently. Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are basically metabolic disorders that are caused by severe congestion and an unbalanced diet/lifestyle, and almost never by insufficient calcium intake. Osteoporosis is virtually unknown in such places as Africa where people eat far fewer proteins than those living in developed countries.

Milk Consumption Linked to Diabetes and Allergies

Initial studies on diabetes revealed that the frequency of insulin dependent diabetes is linked to breast-feeding. The longer children were breastfed by their mothers, the less was their risk of developing diabetes later in life. The interpretation of this finding was revised, however, after it was found that children who are fed with cow’s milk formula rather than with mother’s milk were the most likely candidates for diabetes. More precise studies revealed that diabetics have a striking number of antibodies against a particular protein in their blood.

Diabetes is considered an ‘autoimmune disease’ which means that the body supposedly directs its defenses against itself. The particular protein that the body tries to combat here comes from the whey of cow’s milk. If the milk protein becomes lodged in the body’s connective tissues, it is only natural for the body’s immune cells (white cells) to attack and remove it. The fact that this response by the immune system inflames the cells surrounding these tissues (which is essential for healing) should not be misconstrued to be an autoimmune disease.

Ever since cow’s milk has been used to make cheese, whey, which is a waste product of cheese production, has been fed to pigs. This practice continued even after scientists attributed great nutritional value to whey. Since nobody really liked drinking this ‘precious’ ingredient of milk it was mixed in with foods. This ‘coincided’ with a dramatic increase in allergies in the developed world. Scientists have discovered that the beta-casein (a particular protein) in cow’s milk can trigger an immune response that may, in turn, cross-react with an antigen to cause an allergic reaction. An allergy is the body’s response to fight a substance that it considers dangerous to its health and survival.

Today, millions of people in the Western Hemisphere are suffering from allergies caused by milk or products that contain milk powder or whey. Perhaps this is the reason most populations in the world avoid drinking cow’s milk. The current ‘allergy epidemic’ in developed countries may have well been caused by the ‘miracle food’ whey which is added to so many food products, including children’s foods, fresh cheese, ready-made soups, diet foods, etc. We are practically infested by this milk protein unless we live off purely natural foods.

Watch out for the Milk Hormone

Bovine somatotrophin (BST) is a hormone which, when fed to cows, can increase their milk yield by 20-30 percent. In the United States, BST was licensed by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994. This effectively gave farmers the legal permission to treat their herds with the controversial hormone. The license was accompanied with a new labeling policy, previously unheard of in the United States. Traditional dairy farmers are prohibited from labeling their milk as ‘hormone free’ – while those using the hormone are not required to say that they use BST. Because uncontrolled hormone intake is linked to a number of serious health problems, there has been great concern among farmers who use BST that people would prefer the natural milk to the hormone treated one. Their pressure ensured the above legislation.

The granting of a license to increase milk production through hormones comes at a time when milk production is already much higher than is milk consumption. Most industrialized nations destroy enormous quantities of milk and butter to manipulate the prices with no regard to the cows’ health. Cows are naturally made to produce a certain amount of milk according to the demand from their offspring. The hormone-induced artificial increase of milk yield causes a number of cow’s diseases that are met by administering large quantities of antibiotics. The drug’s poisons seep into the milk and its products. How much a cow must be suffering when its udder is being extended to beyond it natural capacity is not even considered an issue.

Is Milk Bad for Everyone?

Cow’s milk is the food used to raise cows. Drinking the milk from another species is less than ideal. Under normal circumstances, you will not find young animals going around and begging other animals to give them some of their milk. Any adverse reactions to partaking of the milk of another species are to be expected. However, if milk causes allergies or other diseases why doesn’t everyone who regularly consumes cow’s milk suffer from the same problems? One reason may be that they don’t remove the fat from the milk. Left unaltered, cow’s milk is completely balanced regarding its natural ingredients. By removing one essential part of the milk, that is, fat, the milk protein can no longer be digested completely, hence there will be a ‘leftover’ of undigested and irritating proteins that the body’s immune system begins to combat and get rid of.

In my practice I have found that persons who are of Vata constitution seem to digest and metabolize milk much better than Kapha types, provided it is fresh, whole fat, and boiled before consumption (Pasteurizing of milk differs from boiling it in that is uses an extremely high temperature, namely, 285 degrees F (141 degrees C). Vata types often suffer from dryness, lightness and coldness. The mucus-producing effect of milk may help lubricate their intestinal lining, which has the tendency to be dry. The milk’s heavy and warming qualities may pacify Vata and thereby outweigh some negative effects that milk may have for other body types. Healthy Vata types and, to a certain extent, healthy Pitta types seem to produce more of the specific digestive enzymes, which are used to break down milk proteins, than Kapha types.

In Kapha types, milk protein remains undigested and can trigger allergic reactions with intense mucus irritation and sinus congestion. The Kapha’s blood vessel walls tend to clog up quickly with excessive proteins as a result of overeating dairy foods or meat. This may explain why this particular body type is more prone to obesity and congestive heart failure than the Vata type.

Once milk is pasteurized, i.e. ultra heat-treated, its natural enzyme population is destroyed. Yet the enzymes are needed to make the milk nutrients available to the body cells. Newly born calves die within six months when fed with pasteurized cow’s milk. One can only imagine the turmoil that must be going on in the tiny intestinal tract of a baby who is fed with pasteurized milk or sterilized milk formula. As mentioned before, such babies usually develop colic, become bloated and chubby, discharge mucus, catch colds frequently, are restless, and cry a lot. The best advice is to breastfeed as long as is possible, avoid dairy-based formulas altogether, use alternatives such as coconut milk (the closest to human milk) as well as some almond milk, hemp milk or rice milk; and give freshly mashed fruits, vegetables and rice when the baby is ready to eat solids.

Boiling fresh, non-pasteurized milk before consumption seems to have a beneficial effect. Milk protein begins to break down into amino acids during boiling, which makes it easier to digest and absorb. This may be one of the reasons why Indians always boil their milk before use. They also know that milk has adverse effects when its fat is removed. For some reason, milk protein, unlike egg or meat protein doesn’t coagulate when heated. In addition, many of the milk’s enzymes survive. To preserve milk and to kill any existing germs Indians simply put a silver coin or a silver spoon in the milk. Silver is strongly anti-bacterial. And to avoid mucus congestion, they put 2-3 pinches of either turmeric or dry ginger into the milk before boiling it. Whereas boiling the milk helps to reduce some its irritating effect in Vata and Pitta types, pasteurizing it upsets all the three doshas. Kapha types don’t do well with milk at all; they develop mucus congestion almost right away.

Cold milk is very difficult to digest. As the cold milk touches the warm stomach lining, the nerve endings of the stomach become “numb” or insensitive, and its cells tighten or shrink. This inhibits the secretion of gastric juices, which is required to digest milk protein. The cold condition of the milk may even be responsible for leaving those proteins undigested that are known to cause allergic reactions. Enzymes require a specific temperature to be able act on the food; if the temperature is too low the proteins will not be broken down properly, hence the intense irritation of the mucus lining. Vata types who are very sensitive to cold are rarely attracted to taking milk in cold form (from the refrigerator). Pittas often have an excessively high temperature in their stomach, which gets lowered only slightly by cold milk. Consequently Pittas are still able to secret a good amount of gastric juices to digest some of the milk proteins. But if they take milk cold on a regular basis, their AGNI or digestive power also begins to be affected.

If you have access to fresh, full-fat, and non-pasteurized milk and if you are a Vata or Pitta type with no Kapha imbalance (signs of excessive mucus in chest, nose or sinuses), you may use milk in moderation by applying the above procedures of preparation. If milk still causes you mucus, then it is simply a ‘no-food’ for you. I personally have not yet met a person who hasn’t shown signs of congestion and irritation as a result of milk consumption, especially in the United States. In all the U.S. with the exception of California, Washington and Georgia, it is illegal to sell whole, raw milk, despite the fact that raw milk contains far less potentially harmful bacteria than pasteurized, homogenized milk. Pasteurized, homogenized milk does not qualify as food per se. The homogenization process breaks up an enzyme (xanthine oxidase), which in its altered (smaller) state can enter the bloodstream and react against arterial walls, causing the body to protect the area with a layer of cholesterol.

The demand for raw, non-pasteurized milk is booming. According to Sally Fallon, president for the Weston A. Price Foundation, the number of raw milk drinkers is now at about half a million people across the United States – many of them willingly breaking the law, purchasing their milk from ‘underground black markets’ and other creative setups. Raw milk comes with its own risks. Even if the cows grow up on organic farms, their milk bladders are constantly filled and extended, day after day, month after month, year after year. A continuous process of milk production (lactation) is unnatural for any animal. The resulting repeated injuries of the bladder wall leads to infections and inflammation, and a lot of dead cells (pus). Millions of units of pus are found in every quart of milk, especially in older cows. It is irrelevant whether the milk is raw or pasteurized; the dead cells remain in the milk. However, since bacteria are attracted to dead cells, and raw milk is not pasteurized, the latter is more susceptible to bacterial contamination.

In July 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture tested raw milk from 861 farms in 21 states. According to their report, nearly a quarter of the samples contained illness-causing bacteria, including five percent with listeria, three percent with salmonella, and four percent with less dangerous types of E. coli. Regardless of the real figures of contamination, either type of milk comes with its own risks. Again, if you are not sure about milk’s health benefits for you, apply the muscle test and your body may give you some good clues about it. Or take a look at your tongue in the morning after consuming milk or cheese the day before. If it is coated white, you should avoid them. A white coating on the tongue indicates mucus aggravation in the gut, which in turn reflects turmoil in the digestive system.

In my own case, eating lots of raw whole milk and cheese led to years of painful juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, constipation, lymphatic congestion, heart disease, anemia and a lot of gallstones in the liver and gallbladder. Soon after I quit eating foods derived from animals, my health returned to normal.