Is drinking milk good for you?
- The United States is ranked second in the production of cow milk as of 2020 data.
- The United States does not even rank among the top 10 countries that consume the most milk, which include Finland, Montenegro, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, etc. per 2021 data. American consumption of milk has decreased by 40% since 1975.
- People who are lactose intolerant means their bodies cannot process the sugar found in animal milk and dairy products. There are many alternative dairy-like products for those with this condition.
- In 2014, the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) changed the 20-year “Got Milk?” campaign from featuring celebrities in famous milk-mustaches to “Milk LIfe,” featuring ordinary people doing everyday activities.
- In 2018, the US Department of Agriculture reported that nearly 98% of dairy farms are still family-owned and operated.
- Established in 1939 with the purpose of encouraging families to “make milk their beverage of choice” as well as people to purchase “extra milk during the warm months of summer,” June became national dairy month.
Drinking animal milk, particularly cow's milk, is not good for you. When we examine the natural world, this should be obvious. No animal on the planet consumes milk past infancy or regularly drinks milk produced by another species. Cow's milk is especially unhealthy, both in how it's produced and when looking at its effects on humans.
All milk contains hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, and milk is the largest source of dietary estrogen for humans, which negatively affects men. Some studies have shown that men who consume more milk have lower testosterone levels and higher estradiol levels, a female hormone. Modern cows can lactate throughout their pregnancies, which means that the estrogen content of their milk is about 30 times higher than normal. An estimated 75% of milk comes from pregnant cows. Dairy products have also been linked with fertility problems in men, which is already proving to be a major issue, just as continuously falling fertility rates among men has.
But milk doesn't just affect men. Milk consumption has been linked with osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and many other health issues that can affect both sexes. While milk has been previously associated with strong bones, the truth is that milk can make bones brittle by literally leaching calcium from your skeleton. Unbalanced hormones can also cause cancers in both sexes, and there is evidence to suggest a link between estrogen exposure and breast cancer.
Finally, cow's milk is bad for the environment. Farmers require about ten times less water and 80% fewer greenhouse gas emissions to produce a liter of oat milk compared to a liter of cow's milk. It's never too late to try some of those alternatives and protect your health.
Milk is a healthy and nutrient-dense food that is a great part of most diets. Some people choose not to drink milk because of its fat content or sensitivity to lactose. However, low-fat and lactose-free milk are available so that it can be a part of most diets.
Milk is included in the National Institute of Health's definition of nutrient-dense foods. It is also one of the essential food groups listed by the USDA for the daily diet of Americans. Most top nutrition scientists recommend milk as it is high in essential nutrients and minerals, such as calcium, Vitamin D, and Potassium. For mammals like humans, milk is essential for early growth and development. We have evolved to depend on milk for our early survival. Breast milk provides all the nutrients and calories we need. It also provides us with the beneficial microorganisms that make up our microbiome.
Another critical component in milk is lactoferrin, an essential protein for bone growth not found in other foods. Not only does lactoferrin promote bone growth and repair, it is also an immunomodulator and antimicrobial that helps our bodies fight a range of diseases.
Common criticisms of milk are generally not based on science or are a product of the factory farming industry. The cruelty and torture milk cows experience, and the issue of hormones or endocrine disrupters like the phthalates, could be solved by returning to conventional farming methods. People like the Masai are some of the healthiest in the world and have a diet largely based on milk. Despite any negative press milk’s received in recent years, this drink holds up.