Despite our upbringing, many people are unaware of the negative effects of the creamy beverage. What’s that? You can’t believe that may true, you say? Well, read this feature and get informed on reasons why you shouldn’t drink milk.
by Katrina Caruso
Drinking milk is commonly thought to be the epitome of a healthy lifestyle; Canada’s Food Guide recommends drinking at least two glasses of milk a day. However, recent studies have shown that, maybe, we should have a little less faith in the ‘all-powerful white beverage.’
When you think of a milk farm, what comes to mind? Do you immediately envision a man milking his cow’s udders on a green pasture? If you do, you’re seriously misguided; realistically, that kind of milk farming doesn’t exist anymore, unless you’re buying from extremely organic sources. More likely than not, the milk you put on your Capt’n Crunch Cereal comes from a factory farm, where cows are lodged warehouse-style, treated like machines of mass production.
Milk is high in vitamin D, calcium and protein, which are all necessary nutrients for our bodies.
“Basically my whole life, I have been told to drink more milk. As a kid, I didn’t have an aversion to milk but I never really drank enough. My pediatrician told me that if I wanted to grow, I needed to drink at least three glasses of milk a day. I never really did it…so that might explain why I am five feet,” said Hayley Chazan, a John Abbott Commerce student .
However, there’s a lot of shit in milk that is not so good for us, and can have negative results on our bodies. Traces of pus have been found in milk; the pus develops in the cow’s udders after stress-related illnesses like mastitis. Traces of penicillin, which treat the pus, has also been found in milk.
“Us drinking cow’s milk is the equivalent to a dog drinking giraffe’s milk… it’s really silly, because the only reason that cows make milk is for their offspring.
We don’t drink our parent’s milk forever so there’s no need to drink somebody else’s milk,” says Ashley Olivieri, a fourth semester Fine Arts student at Dawson.
Why do we drink milk, anyway? Human beings are the only mammals that drink milk into adulthood, and the only ones who drink another animal’s milk.
“All of this ‘got milk’ business is paid for directly by the industry. Plus, the reason cows produce milk is to make their calves grow quickly and ‘fatten up’ right after being born. Do I really want to drink something that exists for the purpose of making cows fat?” asks Allison Glithero, a student in North South Studies.
In the two years that the calf drinks its mommy’s milk, it grows from 90 pounds to a full grown cow of 2,000 pounds in two years. Sounds fattening? It is!
Milk is high in fat, cholesterol and calories; 2% milk gets 1/3 total calories from fat.
Milk is supposed to be so good for us, but digesting milk is not easy for our bodies; in order to digest it properly, our bodies need to produce a lactase enzyme. This particular enzyme diminishes from our bodies by up to 95% in our first four years. That is why you may feel gassy or bloated after drinking milk. Realistically, 75% of the world’s population suffers from lactose intolerance; it is especially common among First Nations People, Asians, African Americans and people of Jewish decent.
There is no fibre in milk, which helps us digest, nor are there any complex carbs, which are the good kinds of carbohydrates. These carbs fill you up, and give you energy. No wonder a good chunk of North Americans are obese… they have low energy, can’t digest properly, and are drinking high caloric beverages which worsens their cholesterol!
Studies by Harvard, Penn State and Yale have proven that drinking milk does not prevent bone disease. We want our bones to be strong and healthy, but out of all the countries in the world, those whose population drinks high amounts of milk – North American countries and Finland, predominantly –are those same countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis.
Here’s an interesting fact: African Bantu women do not drink milk, yet their diet contains 250-400ml of calcium daily. These women get all their
calcium from plant sources, and are able to lead long, healthy lives and birth sometimes as many as ten children. Drinking milk has another fun side effect: casein, which is milk’s protein, irritates our immune system and causes higher amounts of mucus production in our bodies. Mucus can provoke allergies, colds, ear infections, eczema, asthma, and sinus conditions, to name a few mucus-related problems.
That might be why you get colds so often, even in June, and it might actually have nothing to do with the fact that you didn’t wear the sweater like your mom told you to.
Got acid? Milk is highly acidic (not the acid found in citrus), and this garbage sits and rots in our intestines because our bodies doesn’t know what to do with it. It robs us of a lot of the calcium from milk. What’s more, the acidity has been found to potentially cause cancer. Yep, that’s right… milk has been linked with breast, prostate and ovarian cancers.
Cows are also some of the least eco-friendly creatures: milk production wastes a lot of energy and even more water. Their manure pollutes our water systems, contaminating areas wherever factory farms pop up. Everyday, one dairy cow produces over 120 pounds of waste, and according to the US Senate, 200 cows can create more nitrogen waste than the sewage of town with 5,000 people.
However, don’t listen to the rumours: cows in the States are injected with bovine growth hormones (rBGH) at the dairy farms to grow and produce milk, and that crap ends up, obviously, in the milk they drink. Fortunately, however, rBGH is illegal in Canada, as are pesticides in milk and fertilizers.
So now that you know the facts, you may wonder how you might get protein, calcium and vitamin D from elsewhere. You mother may warn you that your bones will suffer, but ask any vegan: the key to a balanced diet is dark green vegetables. These greens are high in boron, which help you to retain calcium better than milk ever will. Think like Pop-Eye! Other sources of calcium are cabbage, legumes, peanut butter, grains, soy products, nuts, orange juice and sea weed (Sushi Shop, anyone?). Also, there are many alternative milks on the market: soy milk and almond milk can be extremely tasty, and rice milks and potato milk can be used to cook.
“I am happy that my parents made me drink milk growing up. I was a super active kid, and I think that drinking milk gave me a lot of nutrients that were important to my health,” says Megan Dolski, a first year student in Concordia’s Journalism program,“But, I would like to state on the record that there is something special about the goodness of old fashioned milk. Oreos dipped in soy is just not going to cut it.”
If you truly can’t get enough out of dairy, know that the best kind for you is yoghurt: it has bacterial cultures which actually aid the health of your colon (unlike the nasty acidic quality of milk). These same cultures won’t upset your stomach as much as milk, as they are easily digested; most of the cultures in yoghurt actually produce lactase. Frozen yoghurt, unfortunately, does not come with all these benefits and is very high in sugar.
“I tell [students] that it’s really important to get the vitamin D, because otherwise they will not absorb the calcium. It’s really important that they have both, together. By just taking, for example, calcium pills, if you don’t have vitamin D, it’s useless… it’s all going to go into the toilet,” says McCready.
Most alternative milks and oranges juices are enriched with this vitamin, and if you like sunlight, 15 minutes a day produces enough vitamin D to strengthen your bones. There is no vitamin D that comes from artificial tanning lights… sorry, Snooki.
This is not telling you to go vegan, or to stop drinking milk. Just know that there are more beneficial alternatives to milk, with less fat, cholesterol and calories to boot, and probably more fibre, magnesium and boron. Remember: you are what you eat, and what you drink.