MODERN MILK: No Longer A Natural Food

Breeding and Technology

Human and animal milk is not just a food but also a powerful concentrator and transmitter of hormones. These hormones and associated factors are designed to rapidly and substantially influence growth, metabolism and cell division. Just one of these constituent stimulants is IGF or insulin-like growth factor. Each type of mammalian milk has a unique formulation to suit the specific nurturance of a baby rat, elephant or human being.

Modern dairy cows have been selectively bred for high milk yields. This has considerably increased the levels of IGF in cow’s milk and beef. IGF causes cells to proliferate, differentiate and increase in size. High levels of IGF in women under fifty increase their likelihood of breast cancer by seven times. Men with high levels have a four times greater risk of prostate cancer. There is also research on how other hormones in dairy milk, such as prolactin and estrogen, can similarly encourage abnormal cell growth.

Modern methods of milk processing may also contribute. Technologies such as homogenisation force milk through filters under high pressure. This reduces their fat globule size by 90% and evenly disperses them so that milk and cream will not separate. The hormones that milk carries can potentially be destroyed by the early phases of the digestive process. Homogenisation though, encapsulates them in fat. This makes them more resistant to digestion and more likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

The tinkered-with fat alone is challenging for the body’s enzymes to break down and encourages increased intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’. This ups the likelihood of allergies, autoimmune disorders and other inflammatory states. For more on how to protect and repair this critical area see the GOOD HEALTH SOLUTIONS’s report: How To Thwart Fungal, Yeast, Viral, Bacterial and Parasitic Invaders – and Build Strong Immunity.

Environmental Contaminants

Modern herds can be administered with a number of chemical treatments including antibiotics. Perhaps even more insidious are the environmental contaminants. Agrochemicals are used as sprays on fields for cattle, and their crops of supplemental feed. Dioxins, PCBs, DDT (banned, but its residues very much in evidence) and other dangerous carcinogens love to find storage in the body fat of animals and humans. These are major disruptors of the hormone-producing endocrine system, the brain and central nervous system, and the cellular processes that can lead to mutation.

Dioxins for instance (the poison behind the Ukrainian political leader’s disfiguring chloracne) will bioaccumulate up the food chain. According to US governmental research 97% of people’s intake comes first from dairy products, then beef and other meats. Low-fat milk advocates need not feel smug. Such high-tech products rely on the addition of skim milk powder to reinstate some taste and texture. The high temperature drying process destructively oxidises its fats – encouraging cell-vandalising free radical production – and damages its proteins.

Pediatric Concerns

Pediatric groups are now recommending that infants should not be given cow’s milk until they are at least one year old. There are several reasons. Milk interferes with iron absorption, which can lead to lowered immunity, mental and physical vitality. Thanks to research headed in New Zealand, there is a link between dairy consumption and the autoimmune disorder of insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1, or formerly termed childhood onset – now renamed as more and more children develop the more lifestyle-oriented Type 2 diabetes). A type of protein in milk can destroy the beta cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin.

Milk is also high in phosphorous, which in excess impairs the absorption of two crucial minerals: magnesium and calcium. These are equally essential for relaxed nerves, sound sleep and the strong bones that milk can thus threaten. For example, infants who are given cow’s milk rather than breast milk can develop tetany. This is characterized by muscle spasms due to low calcium levels. The most likely food intolerance in New Zealand is to milk, and rarely do people ‘grow out of it’. Usually the symptoms just change from acute and observable (such as nappy rash) to more chronic and less immediately relatable (perhaps eczema or asthma). Also the hormones in cow’s milk – natural and added – can encourage excessive growth in the first year of life. Such accelerated growth is now associated with a greater likelihood of childhood and adolescent cancer, especially bone cancer.

Lactose Intolerance

All mammals start their lives on mother’s milk. To digest this we are born capable of producing a sufficient quantity of the enzyme lactase, which enables us to break down the lactose or sugar in milk. Without lactase this would be unabsorbable. All other mammals, and most human races, no longer produce lactase after their usual stage for weaning. For human beings this means a cut-off date of two or three years – historically when most mothers finished breast-feeding. Most northern Europeans, some southern Europeans and a few African tribes seem to have evolved a genetic alteration, which enables them to maintain lactase production. For everyone else ‘lactose-intolerance’ is a physiological fact, not merely a trendy label.

Historical and National Comparisons

Anthropologists, who study ancient human remains, have found that hunter-gatherers – who consumed no dairy products – had far fewer diseases and a better lifespan than did early farmers. As well as considering the validations of history, it is instructive to study today’s ‘diseases of civilisation map’. For instance Southeast Asian nations have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, plus bowel, breast and prostate cancer. If these people move to New Zealand – or the nations allied to us in terms of diet and subsequent risk factors (Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States) – and they adopt our way of eating, they then develop the same sorry statistics we do. This also is true when people –such as those studied in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore – stay in their native lands but unfortunately assume our fashionably marketed dietary habits.

Calcium and Osteoporosis

According to international comparisons, dietary calcium intake is not correlated with preventing osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones). Populations with a high calcium intake can have equally high rates of the disease. Meanwhile many groups with a low calcium intake have a low incidence of osteoporosis. For example, in Finland people consume twice the amount of calcium as we do in New Zealand, while the Japanese have only half our intake. Yet the Finns have a mortality rate – from weak bones and subsequent falls – which is six times that of the Japanese. Although the intake of calcium and other mineral co-workers remains important (see my website article Minerals for a food source list), even more determining is to regulate the hormone levels that mastermind their use.

For instance the body uses calcitriol – an activated hormonal form of vitamin D – to manage the job of how much calcium gets absorbed, excreted or deposited in bone. When calcium intake is low then calcitriol can increase absorption and restrict excretion. Excessive ingested calcium over time can upset this regulatory mechanism. Playing a substantial coordinating role are also the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, plus calcitonin from the thyroid, as well as parathyroid and growth hormones. Common sense suggests that any factors that adversely affect hormonal balance should be minimised and those that assist should be maximised.

Estrogens and Phytoestrogens

Both women and men create their own needed estrogen. Some medicines such as the oral contraceptive and HRT are based in chemical versions of natural hormones. These are not identical or they couldn’t be patented and thus profitable. Xenoestrogens are industrially produced chemicals such as in plastics; synthetically-based toiletries and cleaning agents (see my website article: Would You Eat Your Skin Care and Cleaning Products?); agrochemicals; and high fat, conventionally reared meat and dairy products). When these are inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin they then act as destructive hormone mimics. ‘Xeno’ means outside or stranger. A more encompassing label may be the newer term EDCs or endocrine disrupting chemicals.

One of the surest ways for a man or woman to produce an excess of estrogen is to be overweight. Alcohol also swiftly elevates estrogen levels. Obese, heavy drinking males often lose body hair, sexual potency, as well as develop breasts and in other ways become hormonally feminised.

To the rescue, under the large family tree of health-protecting antioxidants, come phytohormones such as phytoestrogens. This subgroup refers to plant compounds with estrogen-like qualities of positive function and regulation in the body. A person can produce too much estrogen (especially in relation to other hormones) or intake too many xenoestrogens. This excess can stimulate hormone sensitive tissue such as breast or prostate into runaway cell growth and mutation. Significantly, while vegetarians in general have a higher life expectancy compared to the rest of the population, vegetarian women who regularly consume milk products have a markedly greater likelihood of breast cancer.

In contrast, phytoestrogens can fit into sensitive cellular receptor sites like a key that sort of fits a lock but cannot turn it on into malignancy. By filling the receptor sites these plant defenders prevent excess circulating hormones from over stimulating cellular activity. Three of the main dietary phytoestrogen categories are isoflavones (primarily in soy products), lignans (highest in linseed/flaxseed, then rice bran, oat bran and other cereal brans) and coumestans (in clover and alfalfa). Most vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds contain these in small measure. The overall star performers though in terms of quantity are first of all traditional soy products (miso, tofu, natto, tempeh), then linseed (in the whole form not the extracted oil), then other legumes (such as dried peas, beans and lentils – also a good source of calcium, magnesium and other bone minerals).

Maria Middlestead Reg.Clinical Nutritionist, Auckland Call Today!

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