An article came out recently explaining the reasons why the FDA and Pediatrics now believe that we should limit children’s consumption of dairy because it isn’t as healthy as once thought and can dramatically cut into a child’s iron stores. My childhood instinct was that cow milk was disgusting and made me nauseous. I wouldn’t learn for a long time that I am lactose intolerant. But the pediatricians and the entire culture in the 80’s told my parents that I had to drink milk for the fat and vitamins ( I was really small) and so they fed it to me in the morning for many childhood years the only way I would drink it- with coffee and sugar.
As a child I was often sick with quite a bit of stomach pain and diarrhea and a generally lowered immune system, allergies, sinus problems, iron anemia and a mysterious inability to process iron supplements. Nobody thought of dairy.
Then, my father’s onset of Type II diabetes was partially blamed on his constant consumption of two glasses of 2% milk per day through adulthood. Milk has an extremely high sugar content (lactose is milk sugar). When I became Vegan as a teenager, I was free from the ill effects of dairy. I am no longer vegan and have learned that I can consume small amounts of sheep or goat products without harm.
What do we know about Cow’s Milk?
– Adults and child consumption of dairy has risks including osteoporosis (yes, we think calcium but cow milk actually depletes the bones), lactose intolerance and IBS, colon issues, heart disease, fractures, and even prostate cancer.
-The best thing cow milk can actually contribute to the human diet is not vitamin D or Calcium but a varied diet including green vegetables or natural supplements can give much better dosages of those in more easily digestible forms. The reason pediatricians give for feeding babies and children cow dairy above other options is that it is the least expensive and most easily acquired form of fat, protein and Vitamin D.
-The best nutrient in cow milk for humans is fat – and yet most of the fat is taken out of so many forms of milk these days (and Doctors advise that children after 2 not have whole milk because of the risk of childhood obesity.)
– Proteins and lactose in sheep or goat milk is more easily digested than cow milk (because they are meant for a smaller animal) and sheep and goat milk have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals. What about other mammals? http://news.yahoo.com/why-dont-drink-milk-animals-other-cows-145603761.html
-Of course, one of the main reasons to get our country off of the cow teat is that our obsession with cow milk has been for so long undermining the importance of HUMAN MILK.
It is customary to give a child whole cow’s milk as early as 9 months and some consider it a near sin to not have introduced it by 1 year. Babies are customarily fed dairy formula instead of human milk and mothers who have challenges with breastfeeding go to this cow alternative before getting help from breastfeeding professional or doctor and before attempting to procure donated human milk. Cow formula increases the rates of stomach issues, obesity, diabetes and constipation and deprives the baby of unique proteins, enzymes, carbohydrates, vitamins (including easily absorbed iron), minerals, immune boosters, digestive enzymes and beneficial hormones. Using cow formula doubles the infant death rate. Lack of feeding our children HUMAN MILK is a PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS that costs the U.S. 13 billion dollars in related health care costs.
This sort of reliance on formula and ignorance about the benefits of breastfeeding just would not exist without the formula and dairy industries and lobby and it just wouldn’t be possible if we weren’t so stuck on the cow teat.
But what if your family is in love with milk, nobody shows signs of lactose intolerance? People from certain backgrounds are more able to digest cow dairy. Would this sort of family/child be hurt by consuming cow’s milk? No, of course not. As long as you watch the amounts (sugars and fat) and as long as you can make sure your milk comes from hormone-free, antibiotic-free, organic, grass-fed cows. In most places, however, it can actually be easier to find these healthy qualities in your local sheep or goat milk because it all happens at a smaller farm.
More alternatives to cow milk? Find the “unsweetened” versions of coconut milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, sunflower milk- all filled with healthier fats, vitamins and nutrients than cow’s milk. And then there is my favorite one whose healthy properties trump the rest- Hemp Milk.