by: Erleen Tilton
Most of us have been raised on milk. Not only that, many of us have been raised with the “Basic Four Food Groups” and other dietary guidelines that recommend milk as one or our daily food needs. However, there is much we need to understand about milk and how if affects our bodies, what it does and does not provide, and how today’s dairy milk differs from the milk that used to be found on the farm or in the past.
Let’s first understand that we as humans are mammals. We are the only mammals who drink milk after we are weaned. We are the only mammals who drink milk from another mammal. We are the only mammals who drink pasteurized milk!
Humans and other mammals were created to produce nourishment for their young. That’s how it was meant to be and that’s how it should be. Horses produce milk to feed their young. Sheep produce milk to feed their young. Cows produce milk to feed their young. Humans produce milk to feed their young too. That is nature’s way of starting a baby on the right and proper nourishment. But none of the mammals are meant to produce milk forever. We/they begin to dry up after a year or so. In order to produce more milk, it takes producing another baby. Yes, cows and goats have to be bred on a yearly basis in order to continue to produce milk – it wouldn’t happen any other way. (And by the way, I’m glad I am not a cow having to get pregnant on a yearly basis for my milk production, with my new baby yanked away from me as soon as it arrives!)
Today’s dairies greatly differ from the farm milk cow when I was a child. I remember my father going out and rounding up our milk cow, morning and evening, to milk her. A dairy milk cow today does not need to be rounded up twice daily. They will usually come in voluntarily three or more times a day! Why? Because they are fed hormones as well as their own bi-products to increase milk production and are so engorged that their milk bags often drag, or almost drag, the ground. They come to get milked to find relief. And just as engorgement causes breast infections in humans, it will likewise in cows. They are given good doses of antibiotics and vaccines to “keep them healthy”. If not, there is blood and pus that will show up in the milk. All milk is tested in every dairy before it is taken each time. They will know where the blood and puss level is. Don’t worry though. You won’t be drinking anything but “Grade A” milk from the store. However, any “Grade B” milk (which can have up to 5% blood and pus) will be made into cheese. Rest assured, if your cheeses, sour cream, cream, etc. does not say “Grade A”, then you know it is most likely from “Grade B” milk.
Is the pasteurization process of milk beneficial or harmful to our bodies? Dr. Mercola of mercola.com states, “Pasteurization is a destructive process that changes the physical structure of the fragile proteins in milk (especially casein) and converts them into proteins your body was never designed to handle – and that can actually harm you. Additionally, the pasteurization process virtually eliminates the good bacteria normally present in the milk and radically reduces the micronutrient and vitamin content of this healthy food.”
So, do we need to drink milk to get our calcium? In the pasteurization process, the structure of the milk and nutrients are changed and the calcium becomes indigestible – our bodies cannot assimilate it. Many people in their older years feel they need to drink milk to keep their bones strong. In all actuality, pasteurized milk leeches calcium from the bones. So not only does it not prevent osteoporosis, it actually can cause it! Studies show that the countries with higher consumptions of milk and milk products also have a higher rate of broken bones and osteoporosis. Milk is not our best source of calcium.
Let’s consider what good sources of calcium really are. First of all, look at a cow and what she eats to produce all that milk: greens and grains! Not only does she not eat any meat to build that several hundred pounds of protein flesh, she only eats greens and grains (at least if she lives on a farm and allowed to stay an herbivore – unlike most dairies who turn cows into carnivores by feeding them their own bi-products mixed into their food).
Greens, grains, nuts, sprouts and beans are full of calcium, as well as protein. Most of us do not understand this because we have been programmed to believe otherwise. We do not eat near enough greens in our diets! Even if individuals have a salad or two daily, it usually contains little real greens – iceberg lettuce does not count! Greens such as leaf lettuces, Swiss chard, beet greens, collards, kale, broccoli, parsley, mints, etc. are all good greens rich in calcium. Sprouts such as alfalfa, radish, clover, lentil, and others are full of calcium and protein too. Whole grains and beans also contain good calcium and protein, but the raw nuts and seeds are some of our best sources of calcium and protein. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds and more (all raw) are full of good digestible calcium.
Nut, soy and rice milks have often been discounted in being termed “substitutes” to the real thing. However, it is all in how you look at it. Would you rather be nursing from the utter of a cow to get that milk to pour on your cereal, or would you rather get it from raw nuts, soybeans, rice or other vegetable proteins? These other “milks” do differ in protein, calcium, fat, and nutritional content, but they can be great sources of nutrition.
If we would focus more on these kinds of foods in our diets – leafy greens, whole grains, beans, sprouts, raw nuts and seeds –instead of the meat, milk, fast foods, processed and prepared foods (that are high in calories yet lacking real digestible nutrition) we would not only feel better, but we would look better (having better weight control), and not have to experience all the diseases and disorders that we do as a people. Good sound nutrition from wholesome foods is the real key to better health!
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