Dairy Fact and Fiction

Glas of MIlk

Milk has
always been a part of the American diet. We put it on our cereals in the morning,cultivate it into cheese and add it to almost every meal, and turn it into icecream for desserts. It’s one of the main things we add to shopping list when we go to buy groceries, and one of the first things we run out of. It’s included in almost all baking recipes, and even had its own category in our food pyramid. But, is milk actually good for us?

The Good

Milk does have health benefits. Milk is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like B12, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, magnesium, zinc, thiamine, and a good source of proteins (Kubula 1).  Drinking milk in areas that receive limited sunlight throughout the year can be a great way to get the Vitamin D, they would normally get from the sun.

We all remember growing up and seeing the famous “Got Milk?” campaign with celebrities with milk mustaches. I can also remember the tag line milk builds strong bones. But milk builds strong bones may actually have been exaggerated. A study published
on a  British Medical Journal  found that people over the age of 50 didn’t get stronger bones by eating high amounts of dairy products, but in fact were just as likely to suffer from bone fractures as those that didn’t (Conick 1).

 "I think we’ve actually Misdirected a whole lot of effort into the use of calcium supplements, in
particular in North America, where use has been higher for the last 30 years,”
(Conick 1).

Dr. Ian Reid, University
of Auckland in New Zealand

It may in fact be magnesium what we should have been taking for strong bones all along. Magnesium is now believed to be more important than calcium to maintain healthy bones, and is also responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions
necessary for optimum health (Walton 1).

The Dairy Industry

When we think about the dairy industry we often think of a black and white cow grazing in a field and being milked in the morning. That’s the Norman Rockwell version we’d all like to believe it true. The truth is actually more horrifying. Here are some very disturbing facts about the dairy industry.

  • “Most people don’t think about the fact that, in order to continue producing milk, dairy cows must be impregnated repeatedly. The female calves are born into the same fate as their mother, but the male calves are sent off to become veal. The veal industry would not exist without the dairy industry” (Live Kind 1)
  • “97% of all dairy calves are stolen from their mothers within hours of birth. Cows also
    have maternal instincts and this is extremely traumatizing to them.” (Live Kind1)
  • “Over 90% of the dairy cows in the U.S. are confined in indoor operations, and more than 60% of them are tethered by the neck inside barren stalls. They are stripped of everything that is a natural instinct to them” (Live Kind 1)
  • “Because of being horribly overworked, dairy cows’ bodies begin producing less milk at 4 to 5 years of age, and they are sent off to slaughter to become ground beef and hamburgers. In natural conditions, cows can live 20 to 25 years.” (LivKind 1)

Switch For Good?

There is a new ad campaign going around called “Switch4good.com.” The idea is to get people to take a month off all dairy products to see how they feel at the end of the month. They’re betting that if most people give it up for one month, they’ll fee so good they’ll
never go back. They break down ditching milk to have 4 basic benefits:

1. Improved Health

2. Enhanced Performance

3. Planetary Responsibility

4. Food Justice

You can read
more about this topics here.

Some of you might be thinking; well if I can’t drink milk, maybe I’ll just switch to an alternative milk like Soy or Almond. Unfortunately, soy milk contain estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones, which could promote cancer cells, impair female
fertility and mess with thyroid functions (Taylor 1). Almond milk is a poor source of protein and nutrients, and usually contains additives like sugar, salt, flavors, gums and carrageenan (Davidson 1).  Additionally, many people have nut allergies, making a nut-based milk a non-starter.

In Conclusion

The idea of giving up milk isn’t that big of an issue for me. I don’t really eat cereal anymore, so I rarely have a reason to drink it. But giving up cheese is another story completely. I love cheese on my tacos and burritos, and I can’t imagine that a faux cheese on a pizza will taste anywhere near as good as the real thing. But going for a month without dairy seems like a doable goal. And seeing how you feel after illuminating something from your diet is always something worth trying.

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 Conick, Hal, Dairyreported.com
“Calcium Doesn’t Strengthen Bones” Published September 15, 2015, Accessed September
19, 2020. http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4183

Live Kind, Make Life Good
“What’s Wrong with Dairy?” Date Published: April 5, 2018. Accessed September
19, 2020. http://www.makelifegood.org/whats-wrong-dairy/?gclid=CjwKCAjw2Jb7BRBHEiwAXTR4je5keglRdQ805hBytJtIdX8bapPR7wO3LXkxs2u0AlkI-SgwwkgD0hoCJRMQAvD_BwE

Jillian MS, RD
  Healthline “5 Ways Drinking Milk Can Improve
your Health”on Date Publlished: March 18, 2018, Date Accessed: September 19,
2020. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/milk-benefits

Taylor, Mary Grace, Good Housekeeping “Is Soy Good or Bad
for You? Here’s the Science-Backed Answer.” Date Published: January 17, 2020,
Accessed: September 19, 2020. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a20707020/is-soy-good-or-bad-for-you/#:~:text=Soy%2C%20it%20turned%20out%2C%20contains,and%20mess%20with%20thyroid%20function.

Walton, Bart L.A.c. Sound Consumer “Calcium vs. Magnesium:
the Key is Balance.” Published March 2004, Accessed September 19, 2020. https://www.pccmarkets.com/sound-consumer/2004-03/sc0403-expertadv/


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