“But my momma told me to drink my milk!?”
One of the most controversial events that happens in my office all the time is the reduction or complete elimination of all dairy products from my client’s meal plans (and yes this includes children as well).
Something just like this happened last week but almost started a minor welterweight boxing event in my office. This particular mother could not understand why I was telling her to get her children to stop drinking so much milk when everyone else (including other health professionals) was telling her just the opposite.
So I did what any good nutritionist would do, rolled up my sleeves, put up my dukes (just kidding, I didn’t). I came back with the following statements:
1. Americans drink the most milk of any other country, yet we still have the highest rate of osteoporosis.
2. Pasteurization kills off all the necessary digestive enzymes in the milk (This is why so many people are now suffering from lactose intolerance).
3. Pasteurization also makes the major part of the calcium contained in milk insoluble, in other words making 50% of milk’s calcium unusable by the body (This contributing to the high rate of osteoporosis).
4. Milk sugar (lactose) converts into sugar your body uses very quickly, leading to blood sugar highs and lows and an up and down energy rollercoaster ride for you.
How could this all be true? Isn’t milk supposed to do a body good?
Well, yes it does, but milk was really only intended to be consumed in its natural state (unpasteurized). Sound scary? Many states in the US and most organic farmers will ONLY drink milk if it’s unpasteurized and they are extremely healthy.
My father is a great example. When he came to this country from Peru, he claimed that the milk tasted funny, so he didn’t drink it. When we finally located an organic farmer who could provide us with
raw (unpasteurized) milk, he went back to drinking it. (Note: My dad is 71, is in tip top shape, and has never been on any medications in his life. Isn’t that incredible?).
Back to milk. The other fact we need to consider is that most cows are being given an excess of growth hormone just to keep them producing massive amounts of milk. This, in turn, makes them sick, at which time they are given antibiotics. The growth hormone and antibiotics get into their blood stream and then into the milk they produce. Who drinks this chemical laden milk? We do! (Actually, I don’t and maybe you’re starting to consider whether you do).
The next big concern is “How will I get enough Calcium?” As mentioned above, most of the Calcium in milk is not absorbed by the body. More calcium is absorbed from foods such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, sardines (with bones preferably) and salmon. This makes sense that more calcium come from greens since cows preferably eat grass and they have a lot of calcium inside their bodies (Please don’t eat grass. This really only works for cows).
If reducing your risk for Osteoporosis is your goal, do the #1 activity that prevents this debilitating disease: Exercise! Weight bearing exercise has been shown to be the best way to prevent osteoporosis. Putting small stresses on your bones via strength training helps to re-build them stronger. No one, and I mean no
one, should be neglecting some exercise into their life.
So what options did I give this particular mother and every parent and client that comes into my office?
1. If you consume dairy on a regular basis, try to find raw (unpasteurized) milk. www.realmilk.com is a great resource for this.
2. If the thought of raw milk scares you, purchase the next best thing: certified organic milk products. They will be free of antibiotics and hormones.
3. Since most of milk’s calcium is not absorbed by the body, make sure to get your calcium from these other sources: leafy green veggies, broccoli, sardines (with bones) and salmon.
4. Commit to a strength training routine on a consistent basis. Not just for your muscles and for the way you look in the mirror (although this does help) but for your bone’s sake.
Hmmm…I don’t know about you but this makes me rethink the milk mustache.