Before I get into this post, I’d like to clarify that food by itself is not something that is either “good” or “bad.” That’s subjective. However, some food is better for you than other food. That’s science. Though the title of this post might seem like a moral valuation, it’s used as a play on words from the dairy industry’s “Milk does a body good” campaign. I will always include links to any information I’ve provided. I want you to be able to trace the data back to its source and decide for yourself. Ultimately, my goal with this blog is to inform… Nothing more.
It took a few weeks for the dust to settle after I got my IgG test results. I stopped all dairy products, and within three weeks, all of my sinus issues had resolved, and my reflux had vastly improved. I wondered why milk, in particular, had caused such an inflammatory sh*t storm in my body. I vaguely remember my mom telling me that I had a difficult time with my baby formula as an infant. I also had horrible colic. So I called her. She laughed and said. “Yes, you used to vomit baby formula like a fire hose.” It seems milk has always given me issues. As a teenager, it gave me severe stomach cramps and ice cream. When Jason, my son, was a baby, he suffered from severe gastrointestinal issues once I quit nursing. We removed dairy and gave him hemp milk. It tasted good, and he needed its high fat/protein content. Eventually, we re-introduced cow milk, but when he got to Elementary school, we took him off of it once more because he had symptoms of ADHD. (There is a large body of evidence linking ADHD and autism to the cow milk protein “casein”). Once he was free of dairy and gluten, his physical and behavioral symptoms disappeared.
Thinking about all of this, I felt like I was on to something. I sat down with a chopped salad and homemade vegan ranch dressing and Googled milk allergy. According to Google, a cow milk allergy is “an abnormal immune system response to milk and milk products.” Aside from milk being one of the “Big 8” allergens, it is by most accounts the most significant allergen. For the next few weeks, I spent hours and days reading about cow’s milk. I realized something that gave me great pause: Did you know that humans are the only animals in nature who “voluntarily” drink the mother’s milk of another animal? Think about that for a minute… Yes, mother’s milk. We are the only animals that drink mother’s milk as an adult.
When asked, “Are Humans The Only Animal To Drink Milk From Other Species?” Oliver Craig, a specialist in bi-molecular archaeology from The University of York, replied, “All juvenile animals can drink milk, and that’s because they have the enzyme lactase to digest the milk sugars. But the genome that makes the enzyme gets switched off when they get to a certain age, so as adults, they can’t drink it.” They CAN’T drink it. So was my response to cow’s milk abnormal?
The problem with humans drinking cow’s milk begins with the essential proteins. The two proteins contained in milk are casein and whey. Human milk contains these in a ratio of 40:60 respectively; in cow’s milk, the proportion of casein to whey proteins is 80:20.
The protein content of cow milk is double that of human breast milk. And guess what? Excess protein in the body causes amino acids to convert into glucose, typically stored as fat. Growing calves need more protein to enable them to grow quickly. On the other hand, human infants need less protein and more fat as their energies are expended primarily in the development of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.” (1) A baby cow doubles its birth weight every 40 days. On the other hand, baby humans double their birth weight every 180 days. In the first year of life, a baby cow grows 180 times faster than a baby human. The casein protein in cow’s milk is double that in human milk. (2) Casein is also very difficult to digest. It is a sticky protein, and baby cows come with a particular enzyme in their stomachs called rennet, designed especially to break down casein. Humans do not have rennet, so casein is very hard for us to digest. (3)
Casein has been linked to various diseases and allergies, including Diabetes (type 1), ADHD, and Autism. Only one study I found showed no causal relation between casein (and gluten) to autism. The study, however, did not include kids with gastrointestinal issues. Yet, (this is important) according to Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization, Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are among the most common medical conditions associated with autism.
Okay, fine. So cow milk proteins cause problems for some people. If you’re not one of those people and you don’t drink milk in excess, no big deal, right? Uh, not-so-fast. Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his colleagues examined, in the most comprehensive study ever conducted on nutrition and disease, the relationship between nutrition and Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, and other autoimmune diseases. “Of those diseases studied concerning nutrition, the consumption of animal-based food (especially cow’s milk) is associated with greater disease risk.”
And this, my friend, is where things get weird, like really weird. With food allergies, autoimmune diseases, obesity, and cancer rates on the rise, I wondered what in the world was going on. We’ve been drinking milk for thousands of years (13), so why suddenly are we getting sick? I began watching documentaries about the food industry and modern-day agribusiness. What I discovered made me sick, then angry, then scared.
Next on “All Shook Up,” Part 2: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT