milk: does a body…

cow-nose.jpgThe dairy lobby will have you believe that milk should be foundation of the food pyramid, but for some of us, myself included, milk wreaks total havoc on our digestion.

Like everything, it’s a complicated issue. Some people believe humans shouldn’t consume milk at all — after all, we’re the only animal that consumes milk meant for another animal’s young. On the other hand, as my dad astutely pointed out, for some people in countries with food shortage, a milk-cow could sustain a family, providing much needed protein. Milk may have some nutritional benefits for those who can tolerate it, such as calcium. (For those who can’t drink milk, broccoli, almonds, seaweed and leafy greens like kale are just a few of many naturally occurring good sources of calcium, and the calcium they provide has been proven more easy to absorb than the calcium in dairy products.)

Complicated issues aside, I had to cringe when the Dairy Industry commercials came out claiming that three servings of milk products per day is GOOD for weight loss. Thankfully, Physicians Group for Responsible Medicine told the Federal Trade Commission that these ads were misleading and false and the FTC halted the ads. Thank you, doctors!

I have a feeling the damage has been done. Did anyone else hear about this recall? Yet I bet we all remember the ads. I discovered it this blog post about it when my dear friend Rachel was trying to help me find a vegan nutella recipe.

For the record, even though I no longer drink milk, I still hold a special place in my heart for those eighties commercials where the kid looks in the mirror and his reflection grows into a teenage hottie who says, “Milk: Does a Body Good.” They had one with a girl, too. Those milk people sure know the ways to a young girl’s heart.

9 responses to “milk: does a body…

  1. Oh my god – those commercials, long forgotten, have rushed back into my memory like a gale force wind of aquanet and CK One. They were indeed extremely effective.

    I suppose I am the perfect counterpoint to this post, seeing as I just had a gigantic shake with milk, ice cream and dairy-containing Nutella.

    Yet I mostly drink soy milk, for the lazy reason that I don’t drink enough of the real stuff to warrant buying a whole carton that goes bad in a week.

    The thing that most bothers me about the dairy industry and milk products is not my digestive system – lord knows I can digest it just fine – but the havoc cows wreak on land, to say nothing of the beef industry.

    I’m trying to eat more vegetables these days – this is another good reason to do so. Thanks dudette!

  2. i have conflicting feelings about milk. milk is also a good source of vitamin b12. for vegetarians, like myself, b12 deficiency should be a concern. you can get b12 from fortified foods and vitamin pills, but i feel that milk is more of a natural source. at the same time, it grosses me out if i think about it and, like rachel said, the dairy industry (even the “organic” dairy industry) is pretty messed up. furthermore, i like to eat yogurt because fermented foods are so good for you, and that’s something i wouldn’t want to give up.

  3. Lindsay Gadzik

    I appreciate this post because it underscores the abundance of erroneous claims that trickle down from shaky clinical research and biased food manufacturers. Moreover, our government agencies are doing so little to ensure that the public is well educated or protected. For instance, if a consumer were to purchase a package of Nabisco Cheese Crackers in Thailand, she could read from the label that natural cheese comprises only 3% of the total product. However, in the U.S., that same consumer can only vaguely determine the amount of cheese in the food product relative to its other ingredients. It’s infuriating that food manufacturers such as Kellogg can get away with blatantly false advertising. What’s even more sad, is that the public is so easily duped. It’s not difficult to investigate food claims and expose the industry’s subterfuge, yet so few of us do. For instance, Kellogg calls the clusters in its Special K Fruit & Yogurt cereal “yogurt-covered,” but last time I checked, yogurt is not comprised of sugar, heat-treated yogurt powder, and partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils. Nasty!! I wonder how many boxes of cereal Kellogg could push off supermarket shelves if the label were accurate…something like “Nothing Special K Dehydrated-Fruit & Yogurt-Substitute Cereal” might be more appropriate. I need to calm down now, because I’m about to launch into a raging rant concerning the recent Special K commercials promoting a 6-lb. weight loss in two weeks by substituting two meals per day with a 90-calorie bowl of cereal. That sounds like a great way to nourish my body, sign me up! I wonder how many young women have fallen prey to disordered eating behaviors on account of these and similar adds. I cringe.

    That being said, there is a lot of good information out there, and I’m proud of our generation, because we’re educating ourselves about health and nutrition and we’re challenging these bogus claims even when many “authoritative” organizations are not.

    One non-profit agency stands out as a real superstar in this realm: The Center for Science in the Public Interest. I recommend to everyone that they subscribe to the CSPI newsletter, a paper-thin publication called “Nutrition Action” whose mission it is to debunk food myths and discern the good foods from the bad. Here’s a link I came across a few months ago on the milk-for-weight-loss campaign. Enjoy…

    And here’s a link to the Nutrition Action archives…

    Check out the Health Watch! You’ll think twice about ordering that slice of cake from the Cheesecake Factory…

  4. wow – crazy coincidence. i was just about to post my instructions for making yogurt, and found lindsay’s posting lambasting all the fake yogurt annoyances out there. that brought back childhood memories of “yogurt-covered raisins,” probably made with the same chemical concoction as special k. bleh! and what about frozen yogurt? when i was little, this friend of my parents had heard that yogurt was a “complete food,” and took her whole family out to frozen yogurt for dinner every night. yuck!

    ok, so here’s how to make REAL yogurt. i actually use a yogurt maker (which is really just an incubator), but it is easy to make without one.

    4 cups non-fat milk
    2 tbs. store-bought plain yogurt (make sure it has “active” cultures). This is your starter.

    Heat the milk until it is almost boiling – turn off the heat when you see little bubbles forming around the edges and steam rises. Let the milk cool to about 105-110 degrees – it should feel a little warmer than room temperature, and if you have a thermometer, you can check it with that. While you’re waiting for the milk to cool, get your starter out of the fridge so it can warm up to room temperature.

    I like to put the starter yogurt into a cup and whip it up so it is smooth, then add about 1/2 cup of the milk to the starter, then stir that all together. That makes it easier to incorporate the starter evenly into the milk.

    Pour the warm yogurt-milk mixture into cups, about 1 or 2 cups of the mixture into each cup. If the cups have lids, all the better, but if not, use plastic wrap.

    Let the yogurt incubate, and give it a nice warm environment for the bacteria from the starter to start snacking on its new milky soup. It should incubate for about 8-14 hours – I usually set it for 10 hours. 105-122 degrees is the ideal temperature, and you can achieve that by putting the cups in the oven and turning the heat on and off periodically, or by surrounding them with a heating pad on a lot temperature, or by putting them on the warm pilot light of a stove. This is where having a yogurt maker, which controls the temperature of the yogurt, comes in handy.

    Wait until the yogurt has a thick consistency, then put it in the refrigerator and eat within 1-2 weeks.

    Note: You don’t have to use non-fat milk, but that’s what I prefer. Some people who use non-fat milk add about 1/4 C powdered non-fat milk to the liquid milk to make it thicker, but I don’t bother with that.

  5. Scientific American did a great Special Report last month called ‘Eating to Live’. One of the main articles questioned the assumptions underlying the current version of the USDA food pyramid and pointed out, among other things, that the pyramid “still places too much emphasis on dairy”; in other words, the article posited that we don’t need as much milk for calcium as we’re told we do. I remember being really surprised by that finding, because as Sarah pointed out, we’ve all been brainwashed in to thinking we need gallons of milk in order to avoid hip replacements down the road. Who knew?

  6. Guerrilla Health

    Yes, I also think it’s interesting that milk is synonymous with calcium, even though it’s not the most easily absorbable form.

    It’s true what Addy pointed out about b-12. Eggs and Shelfish are good sources for b-12, but for vegans it may be harder to find natural sources.

  7. Check out:

    If people really think milk from bovines is nutritous and healthy for them (even though it’s designed to fatten a calf to a full-grown cow in a year), then why not drink milk closer in actual nutritional content to that of human mother’s milk?

    Pig’s milk is closer, and chimpanzee’s milk is even closer nutritionally.

    Let’s get real. No other species drinks the milk from another species.

    Ain’t natural, healthy, or advisable.

    FYI, Mark

  8. Guerrilla Health

    Hi, Mark —

    Thanks for the comment and the link. Recently, several people have told me that their babies got sick when the mothers drank milk while breast feeding.

    I do meet people who seem to be able to stomach milk really well, and I wonder what the difference is for them.

  9. I think eat food pyramid diets.THE BEST WAY.

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