Milk – the Perfect Food? Maybe for Calves!

Drink your milk so that you will grow up big and strong. How many of us heard those words as young children and still heed them? This wisdom is being renewed by advertisements showing our favorite stars with milk mustaches telling us that they drink their milk. Not only do we insist that our children have their daily allowance, but we as women are using dairy products to strengthen our bones and get our calcium. Because we are obsessed about fat content, we now buy 2% or skim, but it is not the fat that is problematic; it is the additives and the casein, or dairy protein.

What’s wrong with milk? Unfortunately, today’s milk, like much of today’s food, is chemically different than the milk of a generation ago. Today’s milk is ultra-pasteurized, has traces of growth hormones fed to the cows from which it came, and is laden with up to 80 different antibiotics used to keep the animals healthy and productive. Parents with compromised immune systems are passing on their allergic systems to children who are reacting negatively to dairy products when they are introduced. A large majority of the children in the DDR had colic, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, ear infections, eczema or other rashes when weaned to milk. Although parents recognized milk as a cause of problems in the first year of life, it may go unrecognized as the primary cause of later delays.

Many enlightened pediatricians, including Dr. Spock, are now recommending that dairy food not be introduced in the first year of life.

How the body responds : Children do not “out-grow” their reactivity to dairy products; their bodies just respond to the offensive food differently. The skin is the largest organ of the body. Homeopathic physicians believe that rashes are the body’s way of discharging that which is disagreeable. When the rash disappears, it does not mean that the problem is gone; rather it has gone deeper into the body. Thus as the digestive system matures, and the diaper rash clears, it is the respiratory system that reacts. The child exchanges eczema and stomach aches for asthma and allergies.

Antibiotics :If a child continues to consume dairy products including cheese and ice cream, ear infections may persist. The child is getting a daily dose of antibiotics in food, and thus the body becomes resistant to the more benign types such as amoxicillin. Stronger and stronger drugs are needed. Furthermore, the child may now also be taking drugs for breathing problems and hyperactivity. These medications further erode the immune system, and additional problems become apparent.

Learning Disabilities and Behavior Problems: Children later begin to have problems with learning, behavior, attention, language, and other developmental skills. The truth is that the body cannot process bad food and information coming in the eyes, ears, and skin simultaneously. Thus teachers tell parents about auditory processing problems, visual perceptual problems, learning disabilities, and attention deficits. In over 25 years of counseling families, I have “cured” more of these difficulties by suggesting an elimination diet than by tutoring.

Mothers get sick too . It is not only the children who are getting sick from milk. There is an epidemic of endometriosis and breast cancer among mothers who make sure they get their daily dose of calcium. Researchers have shown a link between bovine growth hormone and breast cancer. According to Annemarie Colbin in her book Food and Healing, “milk is supposed to go out of the woman, not into her. When the flow is reversed, the energy system backs up, and everything gets stuck.” Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’ s Wisdom, believes that mothers are passing on dairy allergies to their children by drinking milk.

What can I put on my cereal? How will I get my calcium? Fortunately there are alternatives. Soy and rice milks are the most available substitutes. They come in many varieties and combinations including low-fat, flavored (vanilla, chocolate, mint, almond), sweetened with rice or maple syrup, calcium fortified, and organic. Amasake, an organic rice product, is naturally sweet, and you can make “nut milks” from scratch in your food processor. For cheese and ice cream lovers there are rice and soy substitutes here also. Try frozen Rice Dream instead of ice cream. My favorite is the mint chocolate rice dream sandwich made with oatmeal cookies.

Check out your local health food store to sample a few until you find one you and your children like. The mainstream supermarkets have even begun carrying soymilk. Look also to leafy green vegetables and grains for calcium. Chinese women consume only half the calcium of Americans and osteoporosis is uncommon among them as well as some
African tribes. Don’t Drink Your Milk by Frank Oski is a book detailing the what, why, and how of dairy issues.

Let’s find healthy options to dairy food. Experiment and let us know about your successes.

[Originally published in New Developments, Fall 1995]

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