Following recent discoveries unveiling practices from governmental associations, which may not have our best interest at heart, in the like of the biggest farce in human history: Fat.
Decades after decades, the message was clear. Fat is bad for us humans. The decision was made global after one study suggested that cardiovascular disease is the result of a diet high in fat. What better animal to use for this type of research but a rabbit, right?
Feeding a rabbit with fat, raises his cholesterol levels and multiplies the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is natural indeed: giving excessive amount of fat to a herbivore and extrapolating the results to us, humans, and our diet. Would you not agree?
Decades after decades we have heard governmental associations spreading similar messages (in a way of brain-washing?) on billboards and on TV. "Drink milk for strong bones" is one the most recurring messages. Recommendations for kids are 2 glasses per day and adults up to 750 ml (about 3 cups) (https://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/dairy-amount.html)
"Human milk also contains many hundreds to thousands of distinct bioactive molecules that protect against infection and inflammation and contribute to immune maturation, organ development, and healthy microbial colonisation." Explain Ballard and Morrow (2013. p. 49)
Did you know that the first milk following birth (and up to 5 days) is called Colostrum?
This is the best a mother can do to her newborn: give a rich liquid filled with bioactive compounds which have a profound role in the survival and health of the offspring. These biologically active molecules include immune cells, enzymes, hormones and growth factors
10 Facts about milk:
- Cow's milk contains nearly half the carbohydrate content of human milk
- Human milk contains less than a third of the protein content of cow's milk
- Cow's milk is mainly made of saturated fat and of only a minuscule amount is polyunsaturated
- Potassium level in Cow's milk is 3 times higher than in humain milk
- There is 4 times more calcium in cow's milk than human milk
- There is 6 times more phosphorus in cow's milk than human milk
- Cow's milk is much richer in iodine, 4 times more than human milk
- Cow's milk contains very little iron
- It is believed that proteins found in cow's milk are 6 times bigger in size than those found human milk
- At a pH of 6.5 to 6.9, cow's milk is slightly acidic, but it is also acid-forming in the body.
The composition of milk can vary greatly depending from which animal it is taken from, providing the required spectrum of nutrients a young of that species need to grow and develop, and for this reason, it is obvious that human milk is more suitable than cow’s milk for human infants. Research reveals that, in tunes with the popular consensus among health care professionals, any other types of milk (especially cow and rice milk†) should not be given to a child under the age of one because of the differences in the composition of milk. While cow’s milk and human milk contain a similar percentage of water, the content of carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals vary widely.
Cow's milk contains nearly half the carbohydrate content of human milk
The human brain develops very rapidly during the first year of life, growing faster than the body and tripling in size by the age of one. The main source of energy for the brain in glucose.
While a calf needs to grown in size much quicker, growing tissues, such as increasing muscle mass and a skeletal support, is more important.
Human milk contains less than a third of the protein content of cow's milk
Species with the highest milk protein concentration exhibit the most rapid growth rate. Leucine is a unique amino acid in that it stimulates muscle protein synthesis. The higher the protein and leucine content of milk, the quicker the neonate is able to double its birth weight.
The figure above shows that the protein content in 100g of whole cow’s milk (3.3g) is more than double that of human milk (1.3g); this is because the amount of protein in milk is linked to the amount of time it takes a calf to grow in size. Growing calves need more protein to enable them to grow quickly. The weight gain of calves during the first year (0.7-0.8 kg per day) is nearly 40 times higher than that of breastfed human infants (0.02 kg per day).
Human infants need less protein and more fat as their energies are expended primarily in the development of the brain, spinal cord and nerves.
Proteins in cow's milk
The main proteins in milk fall in two categories: caseins and whey proteins. Ratio of human milk 40:60 and cow's milk 80:20 respectively. This is why many infants, and adults alike, are unable to digest milk. Infant milk formulas are created using more whey than casein, making it easier babies to digest.
N.B. Casein has been linked to a range of diseases and allergies, including type 1 diabetes
N.B. feeding a baby Cow’s milk-based formula significantly increases serum concentrations of leucine, insulin and IGF-1 in comparison to breast-feeding (Melnik. et al. 2012). This may be one of the mechanisms linking formula feeding to overweight and obesity.
Cow's milk is mainly made of saturated fat and a minuscule amount is polyunsaturated fat
The macronutrient figure above shows 100g of whole cow’s milk and human milk contain similar amounts of fat (3.9g and 4.1g respectively). While they appear to be quite close, the types of fat vary. The figure above shows that cow’s milk contains more saturated fat and the human milk more unsaturated fat (this imbalance typically explains the unsuitability of cow’s milk for human infants).
Brain development is the most important part of development in a new born – growing much faster than the body and tripling in size by the age of one –, and unsaturated fatty acids in human milk reflects the important role of these fats in brain development. The brain is largely composed of fat and early brain development and function in humans requires a sufficient supply of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids (PUFAs), including Omega-6s (AA) and Omega-3s (DHA), both essential for brain development and functioning. These, however, are absent from cow's milk, containing Omega-6s (LNA) and Omega-3s (ALA) forms that must be converted in the body with the action of special enzymes. For the enzymes to work efficiently and break the very long molecules, many co-factors are essential and the environment must also be suitable (body temperature, pH, etc.). Cows produce milk that is high in body-building saturated fats to help their calves grow rapidly in size, and brain development is not an imperative.
Should I go full-fat, Semi-skimmed or no-fat?
Recent studies have demonstrated that fat does not necessarily make you fat, despite this commonly held mistaken belief. Reducing fat in milk reduces its ability to satisfy the appetite (which fat does) and can promote overeating and hunger. Often, the fat in the diet is replaced with sugar and refined carbohydrates, which clearly has been shown to promote obesity and type 2 diabetes. (Source: www.drhyman.com)
Recent studies of kids and adults* concluded that those who consumed low fat milk products gained more weight than those who had the full-fat (whole milk) versions. They seemed to increase their overall intake of food because it just was not as satisfying as the real thing. In fact, those who drank the most milk overall gained the most weight.
This makes logical sense.
Milk is designed to quickly turn a little calf into a big cow, containing growth-boosting hormones.
() = estimated value. Source: FSA, 2002.
N.B. it is important to note that while cows usually enjoy the same diet made of delicious grass (cows are fed with grains if not grass-fed or free-range, producing pro-inflammatory milk1,2), nursing mother's milk is highly dependent on their diet and prescription drugs and, therefore, may vary immensely amongst lactating mothers.
N.B. Although cow’s milk contains all these nutrients it is important to note that vitamins are contained at very low levels. Furthermore, the mineral content is so out of balance with human biochemistry that it is difficult for us to absorb the optimum amounts required for health.
N.B. In addition to saturated fat, cholesterol and animal protein, a wide range of undesirable components occur in cow’s milk and dairy products. The modern dairy cow is prone to both stress and many infections, especially mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland), a widespread condition affecting cattle in the UK. The cow generates white blood cells (somatic cells), which migrate to the affected area in an effort to combat the infection. These cells, along with cellular debris and necrotic (dead) tissue, are a component of pus and are excreted into the milk.
According to The Dairy Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1995, milk containing 400 million pus cells per litre can be sold legally for human consumption. So one teaspoonful of milk could contain up to two million pus cells! It could be even worse, as concerns have been raised about the efficiency of cell counting techniques.3
Goat’s milk is no better. According to the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW), 65 per cent of goat milk samples will have a cell count greater than 1,000 million cells per litre.
Mastitis effects the quality of milk: the total protein content is decreased, the amounts of calcium, phosphorus and potassium content are decreased, the taste deteriorates (becomes bitter), and the levels of undesirable components rise, including drugs or antibiotics given to the animal.
At a pH of 6.5 to 6.9, cow's milk is slightly acidic, but it is also acid-forming in the body.
Blood pH is tightly regulated between 7.35 and 7.45 (neutral).
A popular misconception is to think that food does not have to taste acidic or have a low pH to be acid-forming in the body. For example, lemon juice tastes very acidic while it is alkalising once assimilated.
While it does not taste acidic, cow's milk contains lactic acid its pH is about 6.7 to 6.9. It may be close to blood pH; however, it is not if is acidic or not, but acidic-forming or alkaline-forming. Cow's milk is acid forming.
Raw milk may be the exception, it may be alkaline-forming.4
Milk alternatives, such as coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk may be alkaline-forming while most nut (cashews, peanuts, walnuts, etc.) and grain milks (oat, etc.) are acid-forming.
To buffer the acidity from the milk, the body must bring compounds into the blood, and these include calcium from the bones. So while it is claimed that milk is rich in calcium support strong bones, it may not be assimilated, may not reach the bone matrix, it may, in fact, remove calcium from the bones.
Harvard scientists found no data to support the government and dairy council claim that the consumption of dairy leads to better bones, weight loss, or improved health.5 They also found some serious risks tied to dairy consumption, including weight gain, increased cancer risk, and increased fracture risk. They also found that dairy may cause other problems like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, allergies, eczema, and acne.
Dr Hyman explains: "While it is true that some people can tolerate dairy in small amounts—for example, descendants from Northern Europe and people who don’t have allergies, lactose intolerance, or a leaky gut—it should not be a staple of our diet. We should not be putting it on or in everything.
Dairy contains some very allergenic proteins, such as casein, which can be problematic for many people. And to make matters worse, the casein that’s in our modern dairy—sourced from modern, hybridized cows—has been genetically altered, creating a much higher likelihood of inflammation, autoimmune disease, and even type-1 diabetes. With this in mind, I strongly recommend that you limit the amount of cow-sourced dairy that you consume."
Is organic dairy OK?
"Organic cows are often milked while pregnant, producing milk that’s full of hormones [to help a calf grow to several hundred of kilos]. In fact, the average glass of milk has 60 different hormones in it. These are anabolic hormones, which means they help you to grow. But not all growth is good. You don’t want to grow cancer cells. You don’t want to grow big bellies. You don’t want to grow in ways that actually may be harmful."
Is full-fat better than semi skimmed, or skim/skimmed milk?
Full-fat milk contains 3.70 g fat per 100 ml and 2.4 g saturated fat per 100 ml.
Semi-skimmed milk 1.80 g and 1.10 g.
Skim/skimmed milk 0.3 g and 0.10 g.
For many decades we have been told to observe a diet low in fat and to minimise the intake of saturated fat, and yet, today, we are told that this was not based on accurate research and that the message was plain wrong all along.
Recent studies reveal that people who consume low-fat milk may, in fact, be at at more risk of diseases such as diabetes5. One particular study was conducted over 15 years and used several thousands of participants. “I think these findings together with those from other studies do call for a change in the policy of recommending only low-fat dairy products. There is no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy.” (Yakoob, MY. 2016).
As discussed, the problem with low fat is that is it not satiating enough and to compensate, we are replacing the missing fat with energy-rich foods, particularly sugar and sweet treats, both of which can have worse effects on insulin and diabetes risk, and a direct link to weight gain, dysbiosis, inflammation and cognitive dysfunction.
Research is revealing that full-fat dairy has a place in a healthy diet, and also how focusing on one nutrient in the diet is by far the worse method to improve health: “This is just one more piece of evidence showing that we really need to stop making recommendations about food based on theories about one nutrient in food,” writes Dariush Mozaffarian. “It’s crucial at this time to understand that it’s about food as a whole, and not about single nutrients.” (Mozaffarian, D. 2016)
This, however, is not an excuse to start consuming vast amounts of high fat dairy products if you are worried about your diabetes risk. As always, it is all about moderation and a balance diet, based on nutrient-dense foods rich in antioxidants.
“In the absence of any evidence for the superior effects of low fat dairy, and some evidence that there may be better benefits of whole fat dairy products for diabetes, why are we recommending only low fat diary? We should be telling people to eat a variety of dairy and remove the recommendation about fat content” concludes Dariush Mozaffarian.
The final word:
"The composition of human milk is the biologic norm for infant nutrition. Human milk also contains many hundreds to thousands of distinct bioactive molecules that protect against infection and inflammation and contribute to immune maturation, organ development, and healthy microbial colonisation." write Ballard and Morrow (2013. p. 49), adding: "Exclusive human milk feeding for the first 6 months of life, with continued breastfeeding for 1 to 2 years of life or longer, is recognised as the normative standard for infant feeding. Human milk is uniquely suited to the human infant, both in its nutritional composition and in the non-nutritive bioactive factors that promote survival and healthy development."
"Humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk, an evolutionarily recent addition to the diet."6
"There is no biological requirement for cow’s milk. It is nature’s perfect food but only if you are a calf. The evidence of its benefits are overstated, and the evidence of its harm to human populations is increasing." Mark Hyman (www.drhyman.com)
For more on the composition of milk:
click on link below for the Science Direct articles.
So why is milk back on the table?
The answer is very simple.
Not only milk farms, in the UK, are closing one after one, because the price of milk is at its lowest ever (about £0.10 per litre), but cow's milk is losing big chunks of the market, and marketing campaigns are trying hard to push up sells.
Nowadays, it is easy to find over a dozen different brands of milk that are made from nuts, oat, Coconut, or soya – while in the US, there are virtually hundreds.
Many people are allergic to nuts and, therefore, need to be careful about non-cow's milks.
But many health-conscious people are now turning back to cow's milk (and goat's milk), because fermenting is now all the rage. More and more, people are incorporating fermented foods in their diet, including fermented milk: Kefir (also called laban, in some countries).
Kefir is so easy to make and require so little equipment that any novice can make their own, before attempting to make sauerkraut and other delicious fermented foods.
Fermenting milk can take as little as 24 hours by simply adding some kefir grains (a mix of bacteria and fungi necessary for the fermenting process) to 1 litre of fresh milk.
The milk is kept at room temperature until fermented, thick and rich, then placed in the fridge until needed.
The grains can be re-used straight away to make a new batch or kept in the fridge for a couple of days, until ready to make your next litre of kefir.
While fresh cow's milk can be easier to find, according to Stephen Langley, raw goat's milk kefir is the best option and a lot more nutritious.
Many health stores and farmers' markets sell raw goat's milk, and many farmers also deliver to your door fresh from the farms.
* Berkey, CS. et al. (2005). Milk, dairy fat, dietary calcium, and weight gain: a longitudinal study of adolescents. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine. 159 (6), pp. 543–550.
1. Średnicka-Tober, D. et al. (2016). Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyse. tThe British journal of nutrition. 115 (6), pp. 1043–1060.
2. Kusche, D. et al. (2015). Fatty acid profiles and antioxidants of organic and conventional milk from low- and high-input systems during outdoor period. Journal of the science of food and agriculture. 95 (3), pp. 529–539.
3. Berry, DP. et al. (2004). Genetic Relationships among Linear Type Traits, Milk Yield, Body Weight, Fertility and Somatic Cell Count in Primiparous Dairy Cows. irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research. 44 (2), pp. 161–176.
4. The American College of Healthcare Sciences . https://achs.edu/mediabank/files/achswellnessguide.pdf
5. Yakoob, MY. (2016). Circulating Biomarkers of Dairy Fat and Risk of Incident Diabetes Mellitus Among Men and Women in the United States in Two Large Prospective Cohorts. Circulation. 133 (17), pp. 1645–1654.
6. Ludwig, DS. Willett, WC. (2013). Three Daily Servings of Reduced-Fat MilkAn Evidence-Based Recommendation? JAMA Pediatrics. 167(9), pp. 788–789.
Ballard, O. Morrow, AL. (2013). Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and Bioactive Factors. Pediatric clinics of North America. 60 (1), pp. 49–74. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3586783/pdf/nihms-413874.pdf. Last accessed: August 6th 2018.
Ho, MH. Wong, WH. Chang, C. (2014). Clinical spectrum of food allergies: a comprehensive review. Clinical reviews in allergy & immunology. 46 (3), pp. 225–240.
Melnik, BC. (2012). Diet in acne: further evidence for the role of nutrient signalling in acne pathogenesis. Acta dermato-venereologica. 92 (3), pp. 228–231.
Mozaffarian, D. (2016). Dietary and Policy Priorities for Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity A Comprehensive Review. Circulation. 133. pp. 187–225.
Schrezenmeir, J. Jagla, A. (2000). Milk and diabetes. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 19 (2 supp), pp. 176S–190S.
Song, Y. et al. (2013). Whole milk intake is associated with prostate cancer-specific mortality among U.S. male physicians. The Journal of nutrition. 143 (2), pp. 189–196.
Ziegler, EE. (2007). Adverse effects of cow's milk in infants. Nestlé Nutrition workshop series. Paediatric programme. 60, pp. 185–196.
Registered Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Iridologist, Lecturer, NLP practitioner and Personal Performance Coach.