Since the advent of refrigeration, cow’s milk has been a staple in the American home. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Drink your milk for healthy bones.” And let’s not forget about the Dairy council and their famous “Got Milk?” ads full of our favorite stars sporting milk moustaches. And yet, a large percentage of the world’s population can’t even digest the stuff–and the concern over the use of hormones and antibiotics in cow’s milk seems to drown out its so called ‘benefits’ these days. What should we believe? After a bit of research, my unbiased (but informed) opinion is below. I encourage you to read on and then embark on your own journey to determine whether milk still deserves a place in your fridge.
We all know that cow’s milk contains ample calcium (about 300 mg per cup) and since our bones need calcium for optimal function, it makes sense to assume that consuming milk would give us rockstar bones. Unfortunately, science just doesn’t support this widely-believed myth. In fact, the countries with the lowest amount of dairy consumption have the lowest incidence of bone fracture and osteoporosis. How can this be? And how come no one is telling us this? Well first off, cow’s milk (like all animal protein) is acidic. Your body’s M.O. is to keep you neutral and it just so happens that calcium is awesome at alkalizing acid. Therefore, when you drink milk, calcium stores in your bones are actually leached out to neutralize the acidic nature of the drink. Unfortunately, much of the medical community is still living in the dark ages and recommending serious milk consumption despite this irrefutable evidence and science.
It only gets worse from there. Gone are the days of the humble dairy farmer, milking his small flock of cows and in his place are large factory dairies with thousands of animals and machines doing the milking. This new way of producing milk is cost effective, but often results in sick cows and the spread of disease. To combat these illnesses, farmers load up their cows with antibiotics along with a hefty dose of hormones to increase their output. All of this ends up in the milk you drink. Studies have even shown that these hormones can induce premature puberty in little girls. Thankfully, there are responsible milk manufacturers who are now dedicated to producing milk without these insidious add-ins. If you’re still serving cow’s milk to your family, please make sure to seek out these organic brands.
For my money, I say that organic almond milk is the safest way to go. But like anything, it’s all about choice and personal preference. Try starting a milk debate amongst your friends or family and see where they weigh in. You’d be surprised by the lack of knowledge and the way some feel so fiercely protective over their right to drink the stuff.
Photo credit: Alessandro Paiva