Image Source: Pexels
Image Source: Pexels

Dr Mark Hyman’s book ‘Food: WTF Should I Eat’ has some amazing insights, recipes, and not-so-complicated explanation and is a guide for eating and living well. The author is a physician, researcher, educator, and activist. The book is actually a reality check on what we should eat and what not. Among the many food groups, Dr Mark Hyman explains in his book, the dairy part is what caught our attention. The book beautifully explains the pros and cons of dairy and the myths related to it. Here are the excerpts about dairy from the book ‘Food: WTF Should I Eat?’

You don’t need milk for strong bones

To start with the basics. Everyone knows you need calcium for strong bones, right? Without it, children wouldn’t grow up to the big and strong. Adults would easily suffer fractures. And many elderly would be riddled with osteoporosis and their bones would be crumbling to dust. But there’s just no evidence that we need milk to strengthen our bones. For one thing, countries with the lowest milk consumption have the lowest rates of osteoporosis and fractures, while those with the highest dairy consumption and calcium intake have the highest rates of fractures – a phenomenon called the calcium paradox.

The Penn State Young Women’s Health Study followed women between the ages of twelve and eighteen and found that that amount of calcium they consumed had no impact on their bone mineral density as young adults. But physical activity did. The more exercise they got as adolescents and teenagers, the greater their bone mineral density on their eighteenth birthdays. This suggests that when it comes to promoting strong bones in children, encouraging them to play sports is wiser than telling them to drink chocolate milk.

Sources of Calcium without the Added Junk

It’s not calcium intake that matters, but how much calcium you hold on to. These days, we pee out huge amounts of calcium – cigarette, smoke, sugar, phosphoric acid in soft drinks, stress and caffeine all make us lose the mineral. But we can get adequate levels of calcium from many foods besides milk. Some sources contain even more than dairy, minus the hormones, allergens and other baggage. If it’s mineral you are lacking, there are better ways to get it than from dairy. Here’s how some food stacks up:

  • Sesame seeds, 4 tablespoons: 351 milligrams
  • Canned sardines (with bones), 100 g: 351 milligrams
  • Tofu, 100 g: 350 milligrams
  • Yogurt, 245 g: 296 milligrams
  • Spring greens (cooked), 190 g: 268 milligrams
  • Spinach (cooked), 180 g: 245 milligrams
  • Cheese, 30 g: 204 milligrams
  • Canned sockeye salmon (with bones), 85 g: 188 milligrams
  • Blackstrap molasses, 1 tablespoon: 180 milligrams
  • Swiss chard (cooked), 180 g: 102 milligrams
  • Kale (cooked), 130 g: 93 milligrams
  • Orange, 1 medium: 52 milligrams
  • Bok Choy, 170 g: 158 milligrams
  • Almonds, dry roasted, 55 g: 150 milligrams
  • Cow’s milk, 240 ml: 276 milligrams

Milk Increases Your Risk For Cancer

As said earlier, milk does not promote bone health. But, as Ludwig and Willett noted, it turns out that it may promote cancer. That’s because milk contains witchers’ brew of hormones that act like Miracle-Gro for cancer cells. The average glass of milk has 60 different hormones in it. Many are anabolic hormones, which cause cells to grow. That’s great for a newborn calf that needs to bulk up fast. But in an adult human, it’s bad news. Today’s industrial livestock practices keep dairy cows in a constant state of milk production. Cows are often milked while pregnant, so the milk we get from them is brimming with hormones.

The most troubling is IGF-1, a known cancer promoter that’s also associated with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease. Some of the world’s most prominent longevity researchers have found that people with reduced levels of IGF-1 live longer and have lower rates of cancer. But milk pushes your IGF-1 levels in the wrong direction.

Dairy Farm is Not the Problem    

A landmark review and meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2014 examined seventy-two of the most rigorous studies on dietary fat and heart disease, including two dozen randomized controlled trials, and concluded that saturated fat and total fat consumption have little effect on heart disease. In fact, the researchers found that consuming margaric acid, a type of saturated fat found in dairy, actually lowers cardiovascular disease risk. A number of other studies have also shown that the fats in dairy help protect against cardiovascular and other diseases.

When we remove the fat from dairy, we make it less satiating and promote overeating. Studies have shown that children and adults who drink low-fat milk gain more weight than those who drink whole milk.

Yes, Butter is Back

As Dr Ludwig advises, if you are offered bread and butter, skip the former and eat the latter. The same goes for baked potatoes, muffins, bagels, pancakes, and other food we commonly pair with a little butter. (One exception: buttered vegetables, because we need fat to properly digest some of the fat-soluble vitamins in plants). It’s only butter combined with starchy carbs or sugar that’s the problem.

Grass-fed Dairy is the Kind You Should Eat

If you are going to consume butter or other dairy products, remember that grass-fed is best. The milk these cows produce has an omega-6 to an omega-3 ratio of 1:1, which is optimal. Conventionally raised cows eat grains and other crops that make their fatty-acid profiles more inflammatory. The milk they produce – and as a result of the butter and cheese made from it – is heavily skewed toward omega-6 fats. Organic dairy is somewhere else in the middle. These products come from cows that are given some access to pasture. The rest of their diet comes from organic grains and feed that free of pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics. As a result, the milk they produce has a better ratio of fats than conventional dairy. But grass-fed is still the best. It contains not only the best ratio of essential fatty acids, but also the highest levels of carotene, Vitamin A, and CLA, which has beneficial effects on metabolism.

Goats’ Milk is Different from Cows’ Milk

You might be wondering about other forms of milk, such as goats’ milk. For many cows’ milk is very inflammatory, causing gut issues, allergies, eczema, and acne. That’s because modern cows have been bred to have high levels of A1 casein, which is much more inflammatory than A2 casein, which was present in cows of yesteryear. The good news is that goats’ milk has only A2 casein and is not inflammatory. It is also easier to digest and doesn’t cause stomach discomfort for most. Additionally, it has high levels of medium – chain triglycerides (MCTs), which boost metabolism and brain function, and higher levels of vitamin A, which is good for your skin. Studies have found that people who consume milk with A2 casein avoid the gastrointestinal symptoms, reduce inflammatory biomarkers, and improve cognitive function (likely from the MCTs in goats’ milk). So goats’ milk can be a good alternative to cows’ milk.

Also, A2 milk boosts the powerful detoxifying antioxidant compound called glutathione. Regular milk, with A1 casein, forms casomorphin, which acts like addictive morphine-like peptides that have negative consequences for your brain and behaviour (especially in the case of ADHD and autism). Ever wonder why people binge on dairy products or don’t want to give them up? The A1 casein also seems to be a trigger for autoimmunity and diabetes, while the A2 casein doesn’t have the same negative effect.

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