Monday, September 8, 2014

Got (non-dairy) Milk?

            Many disagreements exist regarding the health benefits of dairy, as well as the concerns of consuming raw, unpasteurized dairy. Much of the information concerning dairy is conflicting based on who is paying for the research and advertising. The choice of whether or not to consume dairy or what type of milk to consume is best made according to the priorities of the consumer, such as nutritional preferences, risks and benefits, and individual digestive reactions.
            The CDC and FDA post many warnings against consuming raw milk. These organizations claim that there are nothing but harmful bacteria and germs that have caused 79% of dairy related outbreaks between 1998-2011. However, other studies have shown that more illnesses have been recorded due to bacteria in deli meat. They also claim that almost no nutritional values and hardly any enzymes are lost in the pasteurization and homogenization processes. However, studies have shown better growth in children who drink raw human milk as opposed to pasteurized milk. Studies have also shown that enzymes and bacteria in raw milk protect people against asthma and allergies, and the hormones in raw milk strengthen the immune system. Due to the loss of lactobacilli bacteria through pasteurization, people who are lactose intolerant are more likely able to digest raw milk. Raw milk was found to be more digestible in 86% of lactose intolerant people.
            During pasteurization, the process of heating milk to kill bacteria, the milk is heated to 161 degrees for 15 seconds, or ultra-pasteurized, and heated to 280 degrees for a minimum of 2 seconds. The CDC claims that this does not significantly change nutritional value, but admits that some enzymes are inactivated and immunoglobulin are killed. Lactobacilli is killed which helps to digest lactose, and lipase is killed first in order for homogenization to even out the texture of the milk. Among enzymes killed in pasteurization are lipoprotein lipase, which increases the shelf life of milk once killed, plasmin protease, alkaline phosphatase, lysozyme which is the antibacterial, amylase, catalase, lactase, lactoperoxidase, and phosphatase. Milk contains 3.3% total protein, and the biggest cause for denatured proteins is the sensitivity of light of proteases, methionine and cystine. The high temperature of pasteurization causes whey and casein to interact but supposedly does not affect the nutritional value of milk, but only the functionality. After pasteurization, homogenization takes place so that the protein-heavy fat globules are broken down so there is not a cream layer on top and milk is more even throughout. This also makes the separation of whole, low fat, and skim milk easier. Because of the killing of lipase, there are an increased number of allergic reactions to the milk.
            The fat content in milk is another highly debated topic. Several decades ago, people only drank whole milk. Just a couple of decades ago, low fat milk was introduced to households and to school lunches by the FDA in attempt to make children healthier. However, whole milk is linked to lower body fat while low fat milk is linked to faster weight gain in children. The belief is that low fat foods makes one hungrier, and especially for carbohydrates. Not only does skim milk possibly cause a faster weight gain, but also with the absence of B vitamins combined with a person’s attempted metabolism of cow milk protein, homeocysteine is caused to buildup and that is a cocktail for heart disease. Also, in order to make milk appealing to children, flavored milks such as strawberry and chocolate are given to them that are filled with sugar, which negates any possible nutritional benefit of consuming milk, regardless of fat content.
            An array of health problems exists that are linked to dairy. Dairy is considered an inflammatory food that can cause arthritis flare-ups, as well as Rosacea and IBS. Alzheimer’s is also closely linked, as milk tainted with bovine tuberculosis is directly found in Alzheimer’s patients. 20-40% of dairy herds are infected with bovine tuberculosis. Also, Casein kinase 1 is found in the brains of patients, which builds up amyloid beta and notch cleavage.  As for Chron’s Disease, mycobacteria in cattle stops white blood cells from killing E. Coli by releasing the molecule mannose, and triggers the antibody protein ASCA. Infant ear infections are very likely caused by dairy, as there is 300% more casein in cow’s milk than human milk, and casein is very mucous forming. As for Osteoperosis and milk companies’ advertising that milk builds strong bones, the intake of milk has shown no effect on reducing the instance of fractures. This may possibly be due to increased urinary excretion of calcium when dairy is consumed. Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis could be caused by dairy as people have the same abnormal autoimmune response to milk. Diabetes may be caused by cows’ milk when children are given cows’ milk formula before 3 months of age. Autism is famously linked to dairy, as diets that eliminate diary, most importantly eliminating casein, get rid of the gastrointestinal problems that are thought to worsen behavioral problems in autistic people. As our immune system is such a large part of our digestive system, casein irritates the respiratory system and causes allergies. Prostate and breast cancer are also shown through studies to be caused by dairy, most specifically IGF-1, which is increased with the injection of rBGH in cows. The hormone oestrogen secreted in cow’s milk is thought to cause breast cancer. 
            Among all of the concerns with drinking dairy, there is the treatment of cows, as well as the results of what cows are treated with. Cows are given rBGH, bovine growth hormone, in order to increase their milk production. These cows then have diarrhea, and with the proximity of the utters to the excretion, the utters and milk are contaminated with the bacteria in the diarrhea. Farmers admit that about 90% of dairy products in grocery stores have fecal matter. These cows also suffer from mastitis, and with mastitis, they have somatic cells in their milk. There is an estimated 1,120,000 somatic cells in each spoonful of milk. This means there is approximately 1 drop of pus in every cup. This is not a huge serving of pus, but it just depends on how much pus the consumer is okay with consuming.
            The drinking of milk is thought to have begun 7500 years ago between the Central Balkans and Central Europe. Europeans seem to have the highest rate of lactase persistence and are the only people who can continue to digest milk without issues. Cultures who tend to be lactose intolerant are African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, American Indians, and Asian Americans. These cultures have lactase deficiency, which causes lactose malabsorption. At 3 years old, the age by which children normally wean, they stop producing lactase and rennin that helps them to digest milk.
            For all the controversy over whether dairy milk actually does a body good, there are several other milk sources that are beneficial to our health, and have good sources of vitamins and protein, among other nutrients. Whole milk has 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 35 mg of cholesterol, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of sugar, and 120 milligrams of sodium per cup. All other sources have fewer calories, fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates (with the exception of rice and oat milk). Soy milk has between 70-130 calories, 2-4 grams of fat, 7-9 grams of protein, and 4-5 grams of carbohydrates. Almond milk has 30-50 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, and 1-5 grams of carbohydrates. Hemp milk, which is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, has 70 calories, 6 grams of fat, 8-20 grams of protein, and 1 gram of carbohydrates. Oat milk has 110-130 calories, 1.5-2.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 24 grams of carbohydrates. Coconut milk has 50 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, and 1 gram of carbohydrates. According to the numbers, coconut milk is a great milk source if fat is a nutrient preference, whereas hemp milk is a great alternative if one needs protein. Also available are goat milk, which is high in fat, sheep milk which is high in protein, and buffalo milk which is very high in fat. Most of these alternative milks are fortified with calcium; a nutrient for which dairy milk is widely drunk. However, the calcium in dairy milk is not easily absorbed. One must have Vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. The only natural source of vitamin D is sunlight, although vitamin D is added to dairy milk. As a matter of fact, the combination of retinol and saturated fat in dairy milk can actually weaken bones. Instead of drinking milk, calcium can be found in better sources such as leafy green vegetables, beans, and supplements.
            As for infants, human milk is higher in carbohydrates and amino acids cystine and tryptophan, which make it much better for infants to digest. Milk consumption in childhood, especially before the age of 3 months is linked to type 1 diabetes. Milk allergies are also the leading cause of ear infections in children. Milk also causes behavioral problems and asthma. Although enzymes and chemicals are added to infant formula in order to help them to digest the cow milk protein, more information should be provided to parents to inform them against using formula if the ability to feed their children breast milk if available. Giving children cow’s milk after weaning is also unnecessary and parents should be informed of milk alternatives and their benefits versus the use of dairy.
            Heard often, each argument depends on who is paying for the research. Each individual should weigh the benefits of dairy consumption. However, more information needs to be made more widely available to people in order to make informed decisions. Most importantly, people should have proper information so they can make good decisions for the sake of their children, as their decision can impact whether their children will get diabetes, asthma, allergies, eczema, issues with autism, bacterial infections, and even cancer. With all of the alternatives available, dairy milk is not the only option, or even the best option for all the benefits its consumption supposedly has.


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