Updated Jul 6, 2012 - 3:40 pm
It's time I came out of the closet
I have to take a deep breath, gather up my courage today, knowing full well that I will face a barrage of criticism and scorn, but what can I do?
At some point you have to be true to yourself, not just live a lie. I'm a married man with two kids but here goes...
I have for my whole life consumed milk and milk products of another species: cows. I love ice cream and malted milks and creamy cheeses and, like many of you, I put half-and-half in my coffee. I have listened to patients describe their diets filled with milk and milk products.
But I can't take it anymore. I believe that milk and milk products are not healthy and I am taking a stand recommending that my patients refrain from consuming milk products as I have done. Period.
I admit that I have wondered why we consume milk products and have had great concern as to why we are the only species that consumes the milk of another species! I do not see the particular health benefits. It is not natural.
Cows are injected with hormones and antibiotics that you consume. Not good! Milk increases your own IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor- 1) which has been implicated in the development of certain cancers. Not good. There are lots of food sources of calcium and the calcium of milk is not all that well absorbed. Milk products play a major role in development of allergies, asthma, sleep disturbances and migraines. Not good. Many Americans have or will have lactose intolerance as a result of a genetic and/or acquired deficiency in the enzyme needed to digest lactose a milk sugar. The result is gas, bloating and abdominal pain. Not good.
Drinking milk does not in any way decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis (calcium loss causing weak bones as we get older).
Now this: A dairy ingredient in junk food may be responsible for rising rates of inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease) and other immune disorders. Scientists believe milk fat upsets the gut ecosystem, causing an influx of potentially harmful bacteria. The discovery may explain why once rare immune disorders have become so common in the West over the past 50 years.
Professor Eugene Chang, from the University of Chicago, whose findings are reported in the journal Nature, said: "This is the first plausible mechanism showing step-by-step how Western-style diets contribute to the rapid and ongoing increase in the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease. We know how certain genetic differences can increase the risk for these diseases, but moving from elevated risk to the development of disease seems to require a second event which may be encountered because of our changing lifestyle."
Concentrated milk fat is a powdery substance that is abundant in processed foods and confectionery.It contains a complex mix of fatty acids, most of which are the unhealthy saturated variety. Tests carried out by the scientists showed that milk fat alters the composition of bacteria in the gut. In people with a particular genetic make-up, this can disrupt the delicate "truce" between the immune system and the trillions of bugs -- many beneficial (probiotics or friendly germs) -- that live in the intestines.
By the way, the incredible number of contented (actually often not-so-content and sometimes crowded in stalls) cows we need to meet the milk product consuming demands of consumers and related industries produce gas that contributes to overload of greenhouse gas and, if you believe in it, global warming.
OK, now, I have come clean. Companies that make milk-based infant formula will come after me. The powerful agricultural lobby will tear me to shreds. Grocery stores will not let me walk in to get almond "milk." I'll have to buy it online. Mommies who feed their little kids yogurt and Gogurt and who take Activia for their irritable bowel will yell and holler and no doubt ignore me. But the evidence is there and mounting that cow milk is a bad thing.
Will we ever see the Department of Agriculture or Health and Human Services do anything about this? Nope. Will celebrities who make a pretty penny from ads with their lips ringed with milk say anything except "Got milk?" No way, someone has to pay them so they can get a new Ferrari. Will ice cream sections of groceries suddenly be shut down because of health reasons? Nope. Why? Because, health be damned, you scream, they all scream for ice cream.
Signed: A doctor who has come out of the closet and left the cow's milk behind.
Dr. Sam Benjamin, M.D. - Integrative Medicine, weekend show host