When you hear on one side: “dairy products, our friends for life” and on the other side: “milk, a misleading whiteness”, it is clear that the subject does not have consensus.
Either there is one side decidedly in error without realizing it, either there is such a passion in the debate that everything is exaggerated. That is, some focus on the interests and do not see the problems, while others, obsessed by problems, do not see anymore the qualities. The need to be right leads to a generalizing truth which strengthens personal belief. That’s how we get a fight about arguments without results generating confusion.
Before addressing the scientific and medical aspects of the question, it is necessary to consider the cultural, economic, and emotional topic of the subject.
Cultural and economic aspects
The consumption of milk and dairy products in large quantities is recent and affects only a part of humanity.
In the beginning of the domestication of dairy species, men ate the meat, used wool or skins, but did not, consume or only in an exceptional way, the milk that was left to children.
It was not until the 19th century that the selection of dairy cows appeared. From the middle of the 20th century, under the influence of various promotional campaigns, dairy products took an important place in the diet, up to the current situation in Western countries.
The exponential increase in the market has led to an intense biotechnology research for highly increased productivity, at the cost of a change in the composition of the milk that is rarely mentioned (including the increase in IGF-1 growth factor).
The abundant consumption of dairy products today is the result of the conjunction of several factors:
– An obvious economic interest which has been the subject of major campaigns to promotions.
– A clear and committed support of the medical and health authorities who recognize them as a vital source of calcium.
– An echo among the general public especially due to the ease of preparation.
– The abundance of production by the use of technological knowledge, and as a result, the need for the agricultural world to sell the huge production of milk.
They play at two levels.
Firstly, for consumers of dairy products, the creaminess of yoghurt, the more or less conscious memories of childhood, and potentially calming milk effect (which has biochemical foundations) create a certain attachment to these products. Removing them would cause such a feeling of deprivation that seems inconceivable for many consumers, especially as their benefits are recognized by health authorities.
Secondly, removing dairy products is to position him/herself clearly against the dominant discourse and into a community of resistance to medical dictatorship accused of collusion with the pharmaceutical and food industries. An anecdote is significant here. A Sociology student who was investigating the subject asked a young woman who had given up all dairy products. Did she observe benefits in her health? No, none. And yet she keeps in his ouster, sure to be on the right track. This belonging to the community of the “anti-milk” becomes a true identity and leads to the same lack of objectivity than those who cannot live without.
Birth and development of a critical movement opposite to dairy products
The “anti-milk” movement was initiated by an American biologist, author of “milk, the deadly poison”, which led to a long campaign resolutely committed to the denigration of the consumption of milk.
Many elements are advanced to show the harmful effects of the milk. They generally have a solid basis, but are sometimes expressed in an exaggerated way, bringing them disrepute. Therefore, there is a passionate campaign to a radical choice, legitimately generating distrust.
Today, dairy products are featured so prominently in the economy and in food habits that it is impossible to challenge it in a collective manner, with the risk of a social catastrophe that no responsible Government is willing to take. It can therefore only be done on an individual level as each can choose whether he/she consumes it or not, and in what proportions.
To do this, it is important to know objectively the real food properties of dairy products and their possible harmful effects on health. In order to see more clearly, observe in detail the different issues in the debates, before clearing, in conclusion, some non-partisan general ideas.
I. Overview of the debate on dairy products
1. Milk and natural food
The argument is echoed by those who reject dairy products: no mammal does consume milk after having been weaned and no mammal does consume the milk of another species.
This deserves to be pondered, but let us not forget that no mammal has recourse to cooking, fermentation and more generally in the preparation of his food. There are many human specificities and this comparison has validity only then if one calls for the return to original and wild food.
However we should not forget that the use of milk of mammals, apart from breastfeeding, is against nature. As it is usual and abundant, it requires to sacrifice the calf to continue to milk the mother, or to feed the calf in another way.
2. Milk and baby milk
After a period during which medical authorities argued that there is no major difference between standard nursing and milk, things have changed significantly. Women are today urged to breast-feed their children for several months, such that those who choose not to for various reasons or which cannot physiologically, are locked in a vise of guilt. It has created another problem that could be avoided by a little tolerance.
While it is true that formula milk gradually improved in its composition by a better knowledge of the needs of the infant, it is obvious that they will never be able to replace breastfeeding. How can milk originally planned for a calf, even with all the imaginable complements, be suitable for a human infant?
Even if there is no identified specific support, we know that milk carries information guiding growth. The consequences on the infant are difficult to assess, but it can be conceived easily that this can disrupt metabolism.
On the other hand, and this is now clearly established, breastfed children diversify more easily to their diet as they grow and reach adulthood. This is a real factor for health1. It is understood by the fact that breast milk changes consistency during feeding, and its taste, as well as its composition, slightly changes every day. A formula always hasthe same consistency and tastes the same every day.
There are many reasons to prefer breastfeeding to the infant formula:
-The importance of feeding in the relationship with the mother.
-The exclusive contribution in the breast milk of immunoglobulins that protect the child during the time of progressive construction of its own immune system1.
-The presence of compounds, necessary for sound balance, that complements can never compensate for, since milk produced by the mother is different for each child. It depends on its needs and scales to meet its growth during the lactation period.
-Contribution by the breast milk for Lactobacilli and various favorable substrates for the intestinal flora2.
-The existence in the milk of specific information for breakfast… and we can understand that information to a calf are little adapted to an infant.
-Preparation and food diversification.
A major factor justifying this choice is the immaturity of the gut of the infant and its physiologically hyperpermeable, intestinal mucosa for protective immunoglobulins. Breast milk is designed to respect this immaturity3. Other food sources are not, especially if they contain foreign proteins. This is the reason why too early diversification is discouraged. And the infant formula is somehow a diversification.
Milk is a unique and indispensable food for a limited time which should be respected. Food diversification can start around 6 months/1 year, step by step, with progressive reduction in dairy rations. From the age of three, we can even discuss the usefulness of milk.
Finally, note that the absence of breastfeeding is not a drama. and many adults grown up without having been breastfed are doing relatively well. This is a factor of health among others. It is advantageous for a woman to be able to breastfeed her baby, as much it is absurd to blame mothers who resort to the bottle for various reasons.
3. Milks and pollutants
Among dairy products, one must distinguish the organic productions of others.
The conventional production of milk is using totally or partially processed origins and is often coming from intensive agriculture and rather polluted (replacing the pasture). Cows are given hormones and growth factors to produce more milk. Because of their fragility, we give them antibiotics and we vaccinate them.
Milk which concentrates the various exogenous substances absorbed by the cow is enriched in antibiotics, growth factors, hormones, pesticides and various pollutants. In addition, it is a good fixative of lipophilic toxins (dioxin and others) and heavy metals.
4. Milk and sterilization
Milk can contain pathogenic bacteria. Therefore, it is necessary to sterilize milk to make it safe for consumption. Traditionally, we did boil it awhile. Today, the UHT (Ultra-high-temperature processing) gets sterilization by a brief passage at high temperature. This is presented as beneficial because it does not alter the molecules. To confirm this, we should compare the tolerance of UHT milk with boiled milk.
This sterilization could be harmful to milk. Many authors, who take the defense of milk in advancing its noted benefits, recommend consumption of raw milk.
These last two points (pollutants and sterilization) complicate the debate because we don’t know if the problem comes from the milk itself, its intensive culture mode, of its pollutants or its proceeds of sterilization. And different statistical studies on the consequences of dairy products do not differentiate its aspects.
5. Milk, hormones and growth factors
With respect to various hormonal pollutants (related to the estrogenic properties of certain plant protection products or medication of the cows), milk naturally contains substances with hormonal activity and growth factors adapted to the species that produces it. In the end, it is a complex environment in which we find various biologically active substances.
In fact, at least two factors have been identified with cow’s milk:
– IGF – 1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor) including digestive assimilation in the presence of casein has been shown. It is a growth factor that activates cell multiplication. We can thus understand the increase in population size for those who are large consumers of milk, and the effect on some cancers. During the race for productivity that has developed since the 1970s, the selection of big cows producing milk and the use of growth hormone has significantly increased the rate of IGF – 1 in milk, as has been verified4,5. Hence the effects manifested more clearly from this time on.
– Estrogen, naturally present in cow’s milk is still more abundant since the cows are processed continuously, even when they are having a calf. And they are inseminated regularly to increase their hormonal impregnation that increases their milk production.
The presence of such compounds in the milk of cow, particularly from intensive livestock, is real and cannot be overlooked6.
6. Digestibility of milk
6.1. The lactose
The sugar found in milk, lactose, requires lactase for digestion. This enzyme present in young age then gradually decreases (since milk consumption is not planned by nature), to disappear in some cases. 90% of Asians and Africans, and 10 to 40% of Westerners, lack this enzyme in adulthood7.
This is manifested by bloating, diarrhea, flatulence after ingestion of lactose. This phenomenon of intolerance is well known. However, it is still ignored by many.
Several phenomena are involved in this lactose intolerance:
– The nature of dairy products that contain more or less lactose. It’s milk, which contains the most, while fermented products (yoghurt) that have predigested contain less, and cream, butter and cheeses contain very little.
– Intestinal flora can come to the rescue of its digestion by providing lactase, and from this point of view, we are unequal. Taking probiotics can improve tolerance to lactose.
– According to the intestinal fragility and familiarity that may allow to tolerate various inconveniences, the effects of this intolerance are more or less felt as a problem.
6.2. The casein
Casein is a big protein whose structure is variable depending on the species. Human proteases digest casein well from the milk, and a lot worse than animal milks. The casein of cow’s milk is a big protein difficult to reduce in amino acid. Besides, the veal produces in his stomach rennet (which curdles the milk) to facilitate this digestion.
Peptides derived from the incomplete degradation of casein animal have several types of consequences.
– On the one hand, naturally foreign to a human body, they can trigger an immune response, with the presence of antibodies of type IgG for which we don’t know the effects.
– On the other hand, some peptides have a biological action that interferes with the usual mediators that regulate functions. They can act on the digestive tract or throughout the body if they move into blood. We isolated opioid peptides that act on the morphine receptors in the brain. Other residues could interfere with inflammatory reactions.
There are also several phenomena that will intervene in this intolerance to casein:
– The nature of dairy products. Fat products (butter, cream) contain few proteins. Curd products, including quality white cheeses and the hard cheeses, which underwent the predigestion under the action of rennet, will be more digestible from this point of view, as well as some fermented products (buttermilk, Kefir…)
– The digestive system specific to each of us is more or less powerful to digest casein.
– The presence of proteolytic enzymes (made by the papaya or pineapple) in the food bowl can facilitate the breakdown of casein (what is to this day a hypothesis).
– Residues of incomplete digestion of casein have more or less consequences depending on the state of the intestinal mucosa. This is essential will be developed in paragraph 11.
7. Milk protein
Outside its digestibility, already mentioned, the nutritional interest of casein from animal is discussed:
– The different amino acids are all present in sufficient quantity so that we can talk about a complete protein, which is bringing all of the amino acids a body needs.
– Lysine/Arginine ratio is unattractive and could encourage early atherogenesis8. But nothing obvious from this point of view.
8. Milk fat
There is no doubt from this point of view, dairy products bring poor quality of fatty acids for human consumption. They contain mostly saturated fatty acids that do not meet the quality needs of the cells and tire the hepatobiliary system for their assimilation.
They are particularly low in polyunsaturated fatty acids (very little omega-6 and no omega 3) which are major factors of health in human nutrition.
This amount in saturated fatty acids led to present low-fat products that bring less saturated fatty acids, but are still without polyunsaturated fatty acids.
We should not forget that cheese, cream and butter, which are more digestible from the point of view of lactose and casein, are particularly rich in this fat of poor nutritional quality.
9. Milk and calcium
A difficult dialogue
Dairy products are rich in calcium. This is also their main dietary asset9. This calcium is rather well absorbed by the intestinal mucosa, thanks to the lactose.
But then what does it become? Human milk contains much less calcium and protein than animal milks. Human milk also becomes a biochemical environment that promotes a physiological ossification. Does animal milk have the same virtues?
It is here where the dialogue becomes difficult. On one side we highlight that calcium is essential for bone health, which is true, and that dairy products bring a lot, which is also true.
On the other hand, we show that the direct link between dairy products and bone health is less clear. Some studies are showing even a risk of osteoporosis that increase with the consumption of milk10.
The reasons for the discrepancy
This discrepancy is explained by the fact that calcium provided by animal milks, when we look more closely, has limited availability for mineralization. A part is quickly eliminated and the other part gives a one-time excess that disturbs some biological functions.
Why is the calcium intake of animal milk not so ideal?
– The determination of calcium by the bone in infants requires a set of information which no longer is adequately provided. In children and adults, this setting requires a sufficient proportion of magnesium. However the Calcium/Magnesium ratio in milk is excessive and the rest of the diet does not generally bring the amount of magnesium to restore balance.
– On the other hand, the significant amount of phosphorus and sulfur containing amino acids in milk leads to acidifying dairy products. To protect themselves from the acidity, the body must mobilize calcium which serves as a buffer before being eliminated by the urine. Part of the calcium from dairy products is therefore lost to correct acid potential brought by these same products. This same mechanism also promotes the escape of the other alkaline minerals, including magnesium and trace elements.
That is why the intake of plant and marine calcium in a varied diet is more beneficial.
Other elements are to be taken into account:
– It is not so clear that a massive influx of calcium in the first part of life is beneficial after 50 years.
– The physiology of phosphorus metabolism is such that the less calcium intakes, the more its assimilation, in order to meet the needs in all circumstances. As a result, important needs as they are fixed today are questionable.
A real topic of controversy: the calcium needs
Daily needs of calcium have been estimated between 800 mg and 1 gram per day, on the basis of a diet rich in dairy products. And it is impossible to meet these needs without them. It is easy to see that non milk consumers, who may therefore have low calcium intake generally show no sign of lack of calcium.
Independent nutritionist’s experts agree that an intake of 500 mg of calcium reaching from a truly balanced diet is sufficient. With a better ratio of calcium/magnesium, bone assimilation is more physiological. On the other hand, in contribution to this level, intestinal assimilation adjusts to the needs. Dairy products are therefore not required, and the real need is not 800 mg per day.
But to complicate the problem, sufficient contributions in calcium without dairy products require a really rich and varied food in plant and marine quality products, found more in common Western diets. In this diet, dairy products are essential to guarantee a minimum health bone. That’s why health authorities that have established the PNNS advocated three dairy products per day. And this is consistent with this logic.
The problem, however, is more complex. It will be developed in paragraph 12.1. about osteoporosis.
Dairy products and calcium
The need or not of dairy products for sufficient calcium intake is facing two cases:
– For varied and rich marine products in plant and food , a contribution of 500 mg of calcium is sufficient, and dairy products are not required.
– To a rather poor Western diet in plants and marine products, calcium may be really weak and dairy products are then the only alternative that respects the acquired habits.
The daily needs are set at about 1 g and are more a reflection of a consumer, regarded as ideal of a clearly established need. It is difficult to separate these needs from campaigns to promote dairy products.
10. Milk and allergies
Milk contains allergenic proteins: casein, the lactoglobulin and the lactalbumin.
The allergy to cow milk by immediate hypersensitivity involving the IgE is common. It affects about 2% of infants and one needs to find an alternative food for them11.
This allergy is even more common when consumption of cow’s milk (including in the form of infant milk) is early. Because of the immaturity of the intestinal mucosa before year 1, consumption of milk animals whose digestion is incomplete, and whose residues are present in the blood, increases the risk of allergy and intolerance.
Allergy to cow’s milk proteins can persist or disappear with the maturation of the digestive tract. In case of persistence, the total removal of cow’s milk is necessary.
11. Milk and intolerance
It is probably the most common and the most insidious problem of dairy products with respect to health. Its description however, often shows shortcuts that create confusion. Dairy products are often blamed for: chronic inflammation that promotes child ENT infections, encourage neuro-functional disorders (autism, hyperactivity) and many diseases with complex causality in young adults.
The two components of the phenomenon
To understand the phenomenon, we must return to the incomplete digestion of casein in paragraph 6.2. There are two components that lead to harmful effects:
– The inability of the human digestive system to completely reduce casein of animal milk to amino acids. It forms residual peptides, and some of these peptides may have a biological activity that interferes with various mediators of the body, thereby changing some biological functions.
– If the intestinal lining is fully functional, it does not let these peptides pass and the consequences are limited. On the other hand, if it is weakened by an increase in its permeability (we call it leaky gut syndrome), these peptides with biological activity enter the blood circulation and reach various organs including the brain, where they can act in a more or less harmful way.
The pioneering work of Jean Seignalet
The phenomenon of intolerance by leaky gut syndrome has been shown by Jean Seignalet in his book: “food or third medicine.”
The intestinal mucosa loses its tightness and partially digested molecules or bacterial toxins of digestive origin and foreign to the body enter the bloodstream. Distributed by blood, they promote many autoimmune diseases.
Various circumstances favor this leaky gut syndrome: intense effort and stress (tubes, digestive and hypoxia), lack of glutamine, chemotherapy, intestinal dysbiosis, toxic food…).
A double effect of dairy products?
Dairy products, in addition to generating biologically active digestion residues with harmful effects, would also be a factor favouring the leaky gut syndrome. According to Dr. Comet, butyric acid present in milk has a harmful action to the intestinal lining. This short string fatty acid is normally formed by fermentation in the colon or has beneficial on the colonocytes, but in normal condition is not expected to be present in the intestine.
The evidence by the elimination?
The impressive improvement in certain autoimmune diseases by the simple stop of consumption of dairy products confirms this hypothesis (polyarthritis, multiple sclerosis…) but the fact that improvement is constant shows also that the phenomenon is more complex. Consumption of dairy products is only one factor among others.
On the other hand, the plan advocated by Seignalet that eliminating all gluten-containing grains and cooking with high temperatures involves other food factors. It is, therefore, incorrect to blame everything on dairy products.
A problem before any intestinal
The problem of food allergies is much larger than that of milk. Better and better known as a result of the careful observations by physicians, it is above all intestinal. Once the lining is injured, there are many sources of food problems, they can vary quite quickly in time, and milk is only one among many others.
It is however more often because of the fact that animal casein is naturally indigestible for a human intestine, and that, following the hypothesis mentioned above, it could also directly promote hyperpermeability of the intestinal lining.
The primary role of the intestinal lining is confirmed by digestive therapies that treat the hyperpermeability for a few weeks or a few months, associated with an elimination of dairy products. These can then be reintroduced in moderate amounts without recurrence of problems noticed previously. This indicates that intolerance is secondary to the intestinal disease. Thus, it is appropriate to address the intestinal hyperpermeability as a priority and not food.
12. Milk and disease
Apart from the biochemical and physiological considerations previously mentioned, a major issue is at the heart of the controversy: do dairy products contribute to the prevention of certain diseases or on the contrary, are they an aggravating factor?
The consequences of insufficient renewal of the health bone
Osteoporosis is associated with a weakening of the bones, which manifests itself with age. It is also associated by secondary decalcification of the bone frame to which calcium binds. In the permanent bone, there are then a more osteoclasts that destroy than osteoblasts that are rebuilding. It’s a bit like a roof that loses its tiles because holes appear in the frame and are not restored anymore.
Seen from this angle, it appears clearly that the calcium is not the main problem of osteoporosis. It is more a problem of the cycle of renewal, or a lack of connective tissue, with obvious hormonal factors in women.
The postulated hypothesis of the bone has 30 years
What is being asserted today by the official discourse on the calcium needs: a lack of acquisition of bone before 30 years weakens against osteoporosis. Therefore, it is at the first level that the intake of calcium would be crucial, and its failure does not allow to build the optimum capital, thus weakening the bones for the rest of their life.
This point has been taken into account by the NPHN (National Program for Health and Nutrition) which originally recommended 3 dairy products per day, for the reason mentioned in paragraph 9.
However, this assumption has become a postulate and it has never been verified.
Confrontation of publication
The controversy relates to the question if the consumption of dairy products throughout life is a preventive factor in osteoporosis.
Supporters of this thesis put forward some publications that the consumption of milk calcium increases bone density, measured by tomodensitometry12.
Opponents point two major problems: there is no correlation between bone density and fracture risk. On the other hand, population studies show unequivocally that there are a lot more fractures related to osteoporosis in countries with high consumption of milk (Sweden) and these fractures evolve with the massive arrival of dairy products in the diet for other countries (Greece).
How to find?
In this context, unless motivated enough to search and read all publications, there are no other choices than to trust each and other parties; on one side the medical and administrative authorities supported and informed by dairy products lobbies, on the other side from independent nutritionists.
The problem is that there is necessarily an emotional dimension in this choice. Depending on whether one is rather legalistic and confident in the authorities or rebel, it will be easy to lean on one side or the other.
An illuminating hypothesis
This hypothesis considers that the bone formation by osteoblasts, such as tissue in general, depends on stem cells, whose potential is not infinite. This potential is genetically programmed to last during all existence, provided the way of life is respected for which the body is planned. However, our genetic heritage was not selected for a lacteal diet, which is very new in the history of humanity. And the massive influx of calcium through dairy products in early life leads to an over-stimulation of the bone metabolism, thus leading to a stronger bone density. But this stimulus exhausts the potential, and upon-advancing age, renewal capabilities dwindle until the bone frame melts. This age-related osteoporosis is accelerated in women by the sudden disappearance of estrogen which previously had a protective role.
Two attitudes toward dairy products for preventing osteoporosis can be proposed:
– If we consider that the establishment of a verifiable bone by tomodensitometry before 30 years is a factor of osteoporosis prevention, then a complement of calcium is necessary, which can come from dairy products.
– Outside of this (questionable) assumption, the dairy recommended contributions of calcium have no benefit attached to osteoporosis. A synthesis of the available studies shows a rather negative effect despite having a minimal intake in food calcium (500 mg per day).
The role of dairy products as a protector or a factor concerning cancer risk factor is a complex and endless debate, because there are many types of cancer that have different behaviors, and that these cancers have a multifactorial causality in which it is difficult to isolate the specific role of a factor.
Based on available studies, two facts are now recognized:
– The consumption of dairy products increases the risk of prostate cancer13,14.
– Dairy products have a protective effect against colorectal cancer15,16,17.
For breast cancer, the data are less clear. Increases in risk is sometimes mentioned, but not demonstrated by statistical studies. However, this risk is consistent if it correlates with the increase in estrogen observed during a large consumption of milk and its derivatives.
The potential role of dairy products has been subject to a series of studies in rats, showing that the casein has the power to increase the carcinogenic aflatoxin, while in the presence of other proteins, there is no tumor development.
Various research has attempted to explain the role of dairy products on prostate cancers.
Three factors are mentioned:
– Casein, which could have the promoting role of the development of the tumor (following the studies described previously) and which allows the digestive assimilation of IGF-1.
– IGF-1, growth factor that promotes the development of cancer cells.
– The decline in vitamin D, protective factor against cancers, resulting both from acidification of the body and the strong charge of calcium that regulates the production of this vitamin.
This is denied by the industry and by the health authorities, who feel that the level of evidence is not yet sufficient. However, the increase in prostate cancers is demonstrated so clearly that the inherent risk in the consumption of dairy products (such as it is recommended) is increasingly recognized.
12.3. Metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease
The role of dairy products with atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease is discussed for a long time.
Fatty saturated acid intake is considered a risk factor. Thus low-fat products have been proposed. However, the major factor of prevention today, recognized in this area, is the intake of polyunsaturated fatty acid of the omega 3 family. Dairy products do not contain omega 3.
Today, as demonstrated by the available studies, a protective role of dairy products is shown for metabolic syndrome18, which itself a major factor of cardiovascular disease. This is a general comment for which the exact mechanism is not known.
12.4. Diabetes insulin-dependent (DID)
The role of dairy products in the occurrence of the type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes is increasingly raised following a cluster of statistical facts:
– The number of these diabetes patients continues to increase in Western countries, showing a strong environmental cause in addition to genetic predisposition already known.
– This increase is stronger in countries that consume the most dairy products.
– Type 1 diabetics have high levels of antibodies direct against β-casein.
– Statistical analysis of children with this disease shows they were being breastfed for shorter periods and had early exposure to cow’s milk.
– Some other studies have shown however that these diabetes also occurred in children who had extended breastfeeding, which makes milk a non-binding factor.
Among the mechanisms presupposed are the following: the immune reaction with a protein of cow’s milk which would cross with antigens of the pancreas to generate an autoimmune process, and the role of bovine insulin that could also encourage a cross-reaction with the pancreatic cells.
All these observations do not constitute a proof along the normal scientific criteria. A large European study with an exemplary protocol (TRIGR: Trial to Reduce IDDM in the Genetically at Risk) was undertaken in 2002, over a period of 10 years involving about 2,000 children with a known genetic risk. During the first 6-8 months of life, half received in addition to breastfeeding cow’s milk and the other a protein formula that did not. The results will be known in 2017. It is expected to give a clear answer on the possible link between diabetes insulin-dependent and cow’s milk.
The insulin-dependent diabetes has most likely a multifactorial causality. If the link is proven, we should however not expect miracles from the complete elimination of dairy products. It will be one less risk factor.
12.5. Multiple sclerosis (MS)
There are two facts which attract the attention to MS:
– Like type 1 diabetes, it is much more common in areas where the consumption of cow’s milk is important.
– The study of Roy Swank who has followed for more than 30 years nearly 150 patients with MS. He split them into 2 groups including one that significantly reduced consumption of meat and dairy products. This group showed significant improvements on the signs of the disease.
MS is a disease complex multifactorial causality, for which consumption of dairy products can be considered as one co-factor among others19.
12.6. Autoimmune rheumatic diseases
The role of milk products in rheumatic autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, Spondylo-arthritis Ankylosante), has been shown by Jean Seignalet, in relation to an intestinal hyperpermeability.
These studies have never been recognized by the medical community. It is true that the cause of wheat and milk may constitute a threat for a large part of agriculture and agri-food industry and thus also on the stability of our societies.
The elimination of the dairy regime, grains with gluten, cooking at high temperature as advocated by Seignalet is practiced by many patients who testify to their improvement. Milk is not the only one issue in these diseases. As mentioned in paragraph 11, it is gut health which is the pathogenic factor.
For the scientific community, there is no evidence of the role of dairy products on ear infections to repetition of the child. Indeed, there is no publication bringing a level of evidence sufficient in this regard.
However, the phenomenon is well known. Many therapists, including ENT doctors who have adopted it by pragmatism, advocate the ouster of the milk in this context. The results are regularly positive, that is why it is more known20.
12.8. Other diseases
Other pathological contexts are associated with dairy products following improvement representations after their elimination from diet. This is particularly the case of migraines.
But we want to highlight here the reported specific cases for which we can formulate a causality, without excluding the existence of a link for other cases21.
All of the conflicting information that can be found on dairy products makes it difficult to get a clear idea of what attitude to take.
The following 7 points of conclusion may serve as a guide:
1. There is no doubt about the huge superiority of breastfeeding compared to milks using infant milks, and question about this should no more arise.
If breastfeeding is not possible, cow’s milk is not the only possibility, there are many plant preparations (called vegetable milks) that can be alternated.
2. Milk produced in large farms and used by the food industry contains many harmful substances (toxins, hormones, antibiotic…) and biological quality of milk should be systematically preferred.
3. Fermented products or firmed by action of rennet are more digestible. The hard cheeses and white quality cheeses (cottage cheese type) are the most interesting forms, while liquid milk is the form to avoid. Yoghurts, in which casein remains difficult to digest, have an intermediate status.
4. Abundant consumption of dairy products is damaging at least for part of the population. Their elimination or their reduction allows an improvement of body health in many circumstances and seems to reduce the risk of some end of life diseases (osteoporosis, including prostate cancer).
5. There is a variable individual tolerance to dairy products, and it is up to each individual, by experience, to know his sensitivity to dairy products. This is achieved by just completely stopping consumption of diary products for at least three weeks and then resume their consumption, observing the effects on digestion, on body skin, the ORL sphere, and a good shape in general.
6. Dairy products are an important source of calcium, but dairy calcium is not the best source from a nutritional point of view. It allows just a plentiful supply. The recommended requirements are overstated and assuming daily needs of 500 mg per day, the calcium is taken up in sufficient quantity by a varied diet in plant and marine products.
7. Dairy products are not essential to the diet. Many people live without them and more and more Westerners stop their consumption unless it generates some deficiencies.
We can’t say either that dairy products constitute a dangerous poison. Adequate dose and for those who tolerate them, dairy products find their place in a varied diet. The food pleasure they can bring is a significant factor of health.
So for optimum health, what to do?
3 dairy products per day as indicates it the National Program for Health and Nutrition?
There is no justification and it seems even to be a harmful factor to health for many individuals.
Eliminate them completely while we tolerate them and when it is a fun factor for us?
Why do this to ourselves?
It is the excess of dairy products posing problem, more than the products themselves, if they are wisely chosen.
Bellow, a few simple benchmarks are given for a consumption of dairy products optimizing pleasure and health, with any pathology or allergy requiring a complete elimination.
– 1 product per day. No minimum. According to your own pleasure.
– Priority for biological culture.
– Preferably white or hard cheeses.
– Avoid native milk which is the form with the most disadvantages.
– Butter and cream, in moderate amounts (bad quality of fatty acid).
- Kelly M. Jackson, Andrea M. Nazar. Breastfeeding, the Immune Response, and Long-term Health. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2006, Vol. 106, 203-207.
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