Is drinking milk harmful to the body?

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Leo Radutz
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4 minute
Scris de 
Leo Radutz
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4 minute

MilkThe milk and milk products industry have been dealt a heavy blow recently after one of America's most respected nutritionists, Walter Willett, pointed out that people should reconsider the role of cow's milk in nutrition.

The statement is revolutionary and comes from a nutritionist, a doctor at the Harvard School of Public Health, who is not even a vegetarian. Willett basically unfolds the recommendations that the authorities make regarding the consumption of milk, which should not be missing from the daily diet of each person.

Walter Willet is the most quoted and recognized nutritionist in the United States and by sheer coincidence is also the grandson of a cow breeder.

Along with David Ludwig, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard, Willett harshly criticized the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Academy of Pedriation that encourage every American to consume up to 3 cups of milk a day.

Moreover, the two Harvard researchers said they were concerned that authorities were encouraging the consumption of dietary milk in schools to prevent childhood obesity, although there is no evidence that skim milk would help children lose pounds. In fact, there is evidence in the very opposite direction.

Is milk essential in a healthy diet?

nomilkThe answer is no, and those who consider this statement correct generally confuse milk with its most important mineral, calcium. In fact, the authorities and the advertisements of the milk producers claim that milk is an essential source of calcium and, therefore, we need to consume it daily. True, calcium is an essential nutrient for our health, but milk is far from the main source of calcium.

Plants are much richer in calcium than milk and do not forget that our body also needs other essential nutrients to bring calcium into the bones: vitamin C and K, potassium and magnesium, and plants provide all these elements along with calcium. The table on the left gives you the best sources of calcium, and milk is not on the first places.

In fact, people have fulfilled their nutritional calcium needs for millennia, before milk became an official requirement for a balanced diet.

Moreover, around 25% of the population is lactose intolerant and then must rely on alternative sources of calcium. Taking into account this high percentage, it is clear that the habit of drinking milk is not as "natural" as it is wanted.

How much calcium do we need every day?

According to the recommendations of authorities and nutritionists, teenagers need 1,300 mg per day, adults up to 50 years of age of 1,000 mg, and people over 50 need 1,200 mg / day.

But these norms are no longer related to reality, say the two nutritionists quoted above, because in the case of the Western diet, rich in proteins of animal origin and carbonated drinks, the 1,000 milligrams per day are not enough. Meat "steals" calcium from bones and, as a simple proof of this, Americans who take the highest doses of calcium from milk and supplements at the same time have the highest rate of bone fractures.

As a result, a diet rich in vegetables is essential for bone health, and vegetable proteins with a high calcium content make it much easier for bones to assimilate calcium.

"The idea that we need 3 glasses of milk a day to keep our bones healthy is simply untrue," says nutritionist David Ludwig.

If we drink milk, will we still get osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis has nothing to do with milk. It is a disease that is related to the decrease of calcium in the bones, but as statistics show, Americans consume enough milk and theoretically receive enough calcium from their diet, but they have high rates of fractures caused by osteoporosis. But there are countries where fractures are very rare and surprisingly the consumption of milk in them is reduced.

The video below explains very well why milk does not strengthen bones, but instead increases the risk of getting fractures and cancer.

Among the factors and foods that "steal" calcium from the bones are salt, alcohol, proteins of animal origin and caffeine. The only remedy for osseoporosis is daily exercise and not excess calcium in supplements.

The two famous nutritionists believe that not all children need milk. In fact, only those children who have a poor diet need milk, because for them milk could be the most nutritious food they consume daily.

Milk: about the risks and associated diseases

The answer to how healthy milk is depends primarily on the alternatives you offer. If breakfast usually means pizza, sausages and scrambled eggs, surely milk is a healthier alternative. "Milk is healthier than junk food."

But for people who have a healthy diet, based on vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish, then milk is not desirable and can even increase the risk of chronic diseases and some types of cancer.

The link between milk and cancer is quite well-founded. Cow's milk contains a hormone similar to insulin that has a role in the growth process of children, because milk is intended to support calves. But in the human body, especially in that of children, growth hormone encourages the development of cells and discourages their self-destruction. As a result, studies have shown that adults with high levels of this growth hormone have a higher risk of developing prostate, breast and colon cancers.

Moreover, the modern growth process of cows causes the level of hormones of this type in milk to be much higher, because cows are bred to give more milk.

Another factor that increases the risk of getting cancer is estrogen, and milk has 60 natural hormones, estrogen being predominant. Estrogen is problematic in diseases sensitive to this hormone, such as cancers of the breast, ovaries or uterus. Taking into account that the daily exposure of women to estrogen is one of the main factors of the onset of breast cancer, the influence of an additional amount of estrogen in milk should not be neglected.

Also, modern practices in the milk industry increase the amounts of estrogen in milk, as cows are milked 300 days a year, including during the period in which they are pregnant. And milk during pregnancy has 33 times more estrogen than normal.


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