Drinking Milk: The Pros, The Cons

By Ted

2700-1155002_milk.jpgGot Milk? Milk Does a Body Good. We have all seen those slogans in the popular Milk Council ads, but is milk really the nutritious, super drink we are led to believe it is?

We can’t argue that milk has nutrition, but is this nutrition in harmony with the needs of the human body in the form of which milk is produced for the masses?

Should I mention that almost all the information the public is given about milk comes from The National Dairy Council who spent 175 million dollars for marketing in 2007 alone? Or, the fact that most scientific studies and papers have not reached the same positive health conclusions that the Dairy Council preaches through their witty and celebrity endorsed ads?

In the USA alone the dairy industry is worth 60 billion dollars and is huge for the economy. 75% of the food in supermarkets contains milk or milk derivatives, but is milk healthy and should it be such a large part of the western diet?

Milk Pros

  • Milk is a source of protein: Whey and casein make up about 3.3% of milk and contain all 9 amino acids essential for human development.
  • Milk contains high levels of calcium: A cup of milk contains about 300mg of calcium.
  • Milk Contains Vitamin A: 1 cup has about 249 IU.
  • Milk is high in other minerals such as potassium and phosphorus.
  • Milk is a source of carbohydrates from the sugar lactose.

Milk Cons

  • Calcium in milk is not readily absorbed because of milk’s high protein content and can even cause a negative calcium effect. In fact, the nations with the highest dairy consumption also have high rates of osteoporosis.
  • 15% of Americans are lactose intolerant and 75% of the world population does not produce the enzyme lactase which is needed to digest the lactose in milk.
  • Milk is high in saturated fat which can lead to heart disease in those susceptible to high cholesterol.
  • In the USA, milk can contain growth hormones and antibiotics. Producers are not required to disclose this on the label nor has there been standards set for safe amounts.
  • Out of the 2700 scientific articles written about milk between 1988-1993, none cited milk as being a healthy food choice. Instead, these articles linked milk’s properties to intestinal bleeding, arthritis, asthma, childhood diabetes, heart disease, allergies, and cancer.
  • Milk production is putting a huge strain on the environment and is a major contributor to global warming.

Conclusions

Maybe we should reconsider the amount of dairy that’s incorporated into our diets and evaluate the messages that we have been sold on milk from an early age. If you can digest milk without problems, then it can provide nutrition as part of a healthy diet, but, perhaps it would be wise to make dairy a much smaller part. Personally, I won’t be giving up dairy, but I will look for ways to cut back on it and make dairy less of a dietary staple.

All the stats used in this article come from the documentary “Got The Facts on Milk?“. This film takes a close look at the dairy industry and the nutritional value of milk. Although the film demonizes milk a bit, it still raises some good questions and concerns regarding the mass production and consumption of milk by our society.

Filed in Dairy, ,

16 Comments

  1. Graham Game

    Why are we the only species of mammal that does not wean itself off milk?
    It’s time we all grew up & stopped taking this poison.

    Reply
  2. At

    Never drank milk in my life and I am lean, healthy, and have no nutrient deficiencies.

    Reply
  3. Ryan

    I had two bone fractures in my hand and have been pretty much living on whole milk, not because of the supposed calcium benefit, but because it’s quick to consume and I can get it into my body with just my non-dominant hand.

    On the topic of calcium in milk, pasteurization destroys the enzyme meant to enable the absorption, phosphatase. In fact, they actually test for complete pasteurization by seeing whether phosphatase was destroyed.

    Reply
  4. Pater Rolf Hermann Lingen

    “Global warming”?
    I hoped that fairy tale would not make it into this blog, at least not after Rick Perry’s statement.

    Now to the milk question: For years now, I use soy instead of milk for my cereals. The main reason: Soy is lower in sugar, and sugar is the enemy. With 500ml a day, that is about 15g less sugar. Remember that the daily sugar intake should remain clearly under 50g.

    Reply
  5. Spectra

    I don’t drink a lot of milk, personally. I do eat yogurt, but I have no issues with milk in general as long as farmers are responsible. My inlaws were dairy farmers for years when my husband was a kid and they grew up on milk straight out of the bulk tank–a treat you can only experience if you grow up on a farm and don’t have to worry about contamination. I also happen to live in a big dairy state (WI) and anyone who doesn’t mainline milk and cheese is considered kind of a freak. There’s actually even a milk marketing board that encourages us to use Wisconsin cheese in all sorts of various recipes. I don’t drink soy milk, either–I prefer to get calcium from other sources. It’s a huge myth that milk/dairy products are the only source of calcium in a healthy diet.

    Reply
  6. Jim F.

    Don’t forget about the massive Soy marketing campaign. Soy milk is always marketed as the healthy choice over dairy. This is a highly debatable point.

    I drink neither cow’s milk or soy milk, but rice milk. As Jennifer points about above — it is a little watery and you cannot use it in coffee.

    Reply
  7. kitekrazy

    “Milk production is putting a huge strain on the environment and is a major contributor to global warming.”

    There’s the real agenda. Some people won’t give up on the global warming agenda. That’s like trying the convince an adult the Easter Bunny doesn’t exist. That explains why the National Dairy Council spent $175M for marketing.

    Reply
  8. Ann

    Both sides obviously have ego and ideology to support – that is evident in itself from your post. But only one side has a monetary incentive. And no, farmers don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to the health effects of the products they are promoting. If they do, it is because they also come from some sort of significant science background. And when a scientist publishes a report, you could perhaps argue it is advertising, but they rarely have an incentive for the report to come out with one particular finding or another (unless they are being paid by the dairy industry or whatever industry the results would support – which is why we would call that BAD SCIENCE).

    Reply
  9. O.

    Ego and idiology is as valuable as cash to some people. So yes, everyone including the activists have some sort of bottom line to protect.

    When scientists, doctors, and other profesionals publish their research in journals, textbooks, and other publications, they are advertising.

    Your not going to trust a farmer on agricultural matters because they don’t know what they are talking about?

    I hope people don’t think farmers are dumb. When my mom was growing up, she said that her family ate the same things they produced for others consumption.

    Reply
  10. Jennifer

    I had no idea about the calcium issue stated under the cons. That’s a little scary! The only milk substitute I like is soy milk, but I don’t drink it regularly because I’ve noticed it gives me headaches. Almond and coconut milk are too watery.

    Reply
  11. RedAU

    The ‘genetic mutation’ is an evolutionary adaption in caucasion populations and some african populations. Mechanism for milk digestion in the two groups is different. Genetic mutations form the basis of survival of the fittest and are neither good or bad in and of themselves.

    As for the argument ‘cow’s milk is for baby cows’. Do you think apple trees grow apples for our consumption. Of course not, apples (and all other fruit) are produced by the plant to disperse seeds. Meat is grown by the animal to support it’s own life, not to end up on a barbeque. All animals, ourselves included, are opportunistic and eat what is available, digestible and nutritious by their own species.

    On milk and dairy, I enjoy it and do not experience adverse reactions so will continue to consume it as a significant portion of my diet. For those who don’t like it/tolerate it there are plenty of other things to eat – three cheers for omnivores!

    Reply
  12. Ann

    I see this comment a lot – that food activists are somehow profiting from an “agenda” that they are trying to push on the rest of us. What “bottom line” would a food activist be protecting here? Maybe if this film were made by Silk Soymilk, but I don’t really see how PETA (whether or not they are behind the film, which I’m sure they aren’t) profits from my decision to cut back on my dairy intake. And I’m definitely not going to go to farmers to get my information on agriculture. I’m going to go to scientists who actually know what they’re talking about and who don’t have a livelihood to protect. Think of it this way, if they are advertising the product, then don’t ask them whether or not you should be consuming it.

    Reply
  13. T. Kallmyer

    Also, in 75% of the world the gene that controls the production of the lactase enzyme switches off at about the age of two. Only those with a genetic mutation can continue to digest lactose properly.

    Reply
  14. T. Kallmyer

    Not sure if it has a connection to Peta, but the film does interview dairy farmers and in the States they’re actually victims as well. They make very little money from milk production, it’s the processing companies that reap the profits and the farmers even have to pay for all the advertising that you see on TV. All the farmers pay 15% of their profits for this marketing while the processing companies pay nothing. I thought the film made some good points and didn’t tell people that drinking milk was wrong or to not use cows for milk, but just was focused on the misinformation we’ve been fed regarding milk’s health and the mass production of it. I encourage you to watch the film. 🙂

    Reply
  15. Stephanie

    The difference between humans drinking cow’s milk and human babies drinking human’s breast milk is that it’s from the SAME SPECIES! The lactose in breast milk is completely different from the lactose in cow’s milk which is why it’s easier for most babies to digest – because they were DESIGNED to digest it. That’s not the case with bovine lactose.

    My favorite thing about this article is that it actually points out the negative effects of dairy and encourages people just to back off on their consumption, not necessarily cut it out. I’ve done this in my own life and have seen a major improvement.

    Reply
  16. O.

    Was this film by PETA?

    I kind of feel like if you are going to raise questions about milk from cows or other animals being consumed by humans, then you have to raise questions about human milk consumed by human babies.

    Or raise questions about the animal milk being consumed by their young.

    I mean CLEARLY the milk is suppose to be good for mammals right, or they wouldn’t produce it. Heck, that is even part of the definition of what a mammal is.

    I’m a city girl but but my parents were raised in a rural area. I see this all the time… urban educated people who haven’t done so much as touch the soil in potted plant raising all kinds controversy over agricultural/livestock consuption.

    I think you need to get your info from the farmers themselves. They live it everyday. If your worried they are just trying to protect their bottom line….well so might the food activists.

    Reply