Got milk? We have all seen the star-studded banners, TV ads and billboards that glorify dairy products. But, has someone with a milk mustache been taking us for a ride all this time?
Dairy is a touchy subject these days. Of course, there are a lot of supposed experts who claim that dairy is important for everything – from strong bones, healthy teeth to athleticism and everything in between. Lately, however, there’s disagreement brewing. Maybe dairy isn’t so great after all?
I remember when this information started leaking out; my mom and dad couldn’t believe it. They had spent their entire lives being duped into believing that milk was, somehow, integral to development. Oddly both my sister and I stopped drinking milk immediately and naturally upon being weaned and could not be coerced or tricked into ever drinking it again – to the complete dismay of my mother who insisted that we would never grow properly. I am 5 ft, 8″. My sister is 5 ft. 10″. So much for that theory.
But what’s the real deal with dairy and why is it bad for us?
1. You may actually be Lactose Intolerant
If you are lactose intolerant, ditching dairy is a no-brainer. The primary carbohydrate in milk and other dairy products is lactose or what’s popularly known as milk sugar. When it’s broken down, you get two simple sugars which are not harmful at all: galactose and glucose.
That said, a person that doesn’t have the ability to break down lactose is said to be lactose intolerant. Well, you don’t need to be a scientist to known that accumulation of lactose in your body is a big no-no. When we’re infants and need milk, the body produces lactase, a digestive enzyme that facilitates the breakdown of lactose. As we age, however, our bodies lose the ability to churn out lactase. In fact, ¾ of the world’s population cannot produce it. So why consume something that your body cannot digest?
2. Dairy Has Huge Levels of Hormones
The natural hormones found in cow’s milk tend to be stronger than the milk that women produce. Bottom line is that human breast milk is not at all the same as cow ( or goat or sheep…) milk. Besides, current dairy production practices allow cows to be given a plethora of bad-for-you hormones and steroids to spruce up milk yield. It goes without saying that accumulation of these hormones in your body sabotages the delicate hormonal balance as well as cause myriad other issues.
3. Today’s Dairy Cows are Fed Bad Food
Supposed advancements in the dairy industry haven’t necessarily been for the best either for us or for the cows whose entire existence is spent hooked up to milk machines. For one, cows are now raised on a diet that is entirely unnatural to them – from GMO feeds (corns, soy, cottonseed, etc.), chicken manure and antibiotics to pesticides. So when you consume dairy, you are actually taking in large doses of antibiotics, radicals from GMO products and organophosphates from pesticides. You Are Who Eat, pure and simple.
4. It May Actually Weaken Your Bones
For the body to maintain constant pH, it always strives for biochemical balance. The problem is that, like all other animal proteins, dairy is acid-producing, forcing the body to counteract with biological correction to create balance. Since calcium neutralizes acid, the body draws on its calcium stores to put things in order and it takes it from the areas where calcium is most prevalent. You guessed it. The bones. In this way, our bones are eroded in a bid to balance the acidity in dairy. Ironically it has been proven that those areas in the world with the highest milk consumption are host to populations that suffer the greatest amount of bone fractures; constant draw on calcium stores makes the bones more brittle and actually increases chances of osteoporosis.
5. Dairy Has Been Linked To Overproduction of Mucous
Cow’s milk and other dairy products are mucous-secreting, a phenomenon that has been linked to a rash of respiratory illnesses and disorders. In one study, participants ditched dairy for vegan diets and the results were quite impressive. Not only did they get rid of seasonal allergies, but they also stopped experiencing hay fever.
6. Dairy Increases your Chances of Getting Cancer
You might have heard through the grapevine that dairy is actually cancer-causing. A study conducted by Harvard fellows has confirmed these fears. Of the 100,000 women (aged between 26 and 46) surveyed, those that consumed dairy and meat products had the highest rates of cancer. What a good reason to embrace plant-based diets!
Nut Milks: Healthier Alternatives to Dairy?
So we’ve established that dairy is not good for you – now what? There’s a pretty big hint in your friendly dairy section of the local grocery store.
Nut milks are apparently coming into their own. They have gained increased traction over the years. And for a good reason; they offer myriad health benefits. From almond milk to cashew nut milk, here’s why nut milks are your best shot when ditching dairy.
- Nut milks have fewer calories, helping you lose weight and keep it off
- Nut milks have no cholesterol allowing you to keep your heart healthy
- Nut milks are rich in calcium which is good for strong bones and teeth
- Nut milks keep your skin radiant: they contain a huge amount of vitamin E and antioxidants.
- Nut milks have high fiber content, helping you with healthy digestion
- Nut milks taste amazing!
Naturally most of the brands displayed alongside cow milk are full of sugar and less than ideal. But making your own is simple.
Vanilla Almond Milk
1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
4 cups water
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
Pour nuts and water into a Vitamix or high-speed blender. Process on high for about three minutes until well blended. Strain into a bowl through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth folded over a few times (can be done twice in this case to make it smoother). Rinse blender and put strained milk back in. Add additional ingredients and mix well. You can substitute any nuts for the almonds and the vanilla is always optional!
So pay no attention to those celebrities behind the milk mustaches. They’re getting paid to promote. But we might very well be the ones who pay if we keep downing dairy. I don’t know about you but brittle bones, hunched backs and cancer don’t exactly sound like fair trade for a frothy antibiotic/growth hormone cocktail.
Giving up cow’s milk for nut milks will reap rewards in your health and overall well-being. And just think… if everybody did it, it might actually be good for the cows too.