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Drinking Milk: Healthy or Not?


mooeypoo
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Hi :)

 

I'm not sure I'm in the right forum for this (perhaps the biology forum would've been better?) but it seems like there are a few discussions here about what is and isn't good for our health, so, here goes:

 

I've been drinking milk regularly since I was a little girl. I Loooooove milk, I used to drink about 2-3 glasses (more or less) a day, sometimes more. Lately, I drink less (specifically since I don't quite like the milk in America, it tastes a bit 'plasticky' to me, but it's a matter of preference I guess).

 

Recently, I poured myself a glass of milk at work and a friend of mine looked at me and exclaimed that milk is NOT actually healthy for us humans, that the 'fact' that it has nutrients is no longer true because of the processing it goes through, and whatever calcium is in it is not absorbed by our bodies because there is something in the milk that stops it from being absored correctly. Which leaves only the fat, and milk is very fatty, so it's not very good for us.

 

I am not sure how it goes in America (if the claims about too-much-processing are exaggerations or not) but I do know that in Israel, because we are MUCH smaller, and have less need for preservatives, and have one of the best dairy technology and we do not use hormones or pesticides or anything like that in our cow-food, etc, the milk is relatively natural. It's watered-down, of course, and is pasturized, but nothing too bad after that.

 

So I have two questions:

 

(1) Ignoring whatever other stuff might be put into the milk in the massive commercial production it undergoes before reaching the store shelves: Is milk good for the human body?

 

(2) Now, considering the commercial production, and whatever is inserted into it (I doubt it's poisonous, but i don't know enough to state anything about this..) -- is it *still* healthy?

 

So, in short: Should I still be drinking milk, and if so, how much is too much, and if not, how can I kill myself right now?

 

;)

 

p.s: I am assuming there is a difference between Cow milk and other types of milk (like goat,etc) -- for this discussion, I'm assuming "milk" is the commercially-available, socially-acceptable "normal" milk, which is cow milk.

 

~moo

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I've heard lots of rumors about this, but nothing I would completely trust. Unfortunately, most of the 'research' on the subject comes from 'unsavory' sources, meaning conspiracy theory health nuts (like my mother).

 

I think they have a good point though, especially considering that milk is not a necessary source of calcium (green leafy vegetables) has too much cholesterol anyway, and hormone overuse seems to have negative effects.

 

This is pretty popular piece of writing in health nut circles. The doctor claims he is well researched, but doesn't give all his sources. He blames milk consumption for everything from allergies to cancer.

 

I don't know if he's right or wrong, but its an interesting perspective. I don't think there's enough mainstream research going into it. But (not trying to be a conspiracy theorist here) the dairy boards in this country are pretty powerful. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that they were suppressing research (not that I think they are).

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I've heard lots of rumors about this, but nothing I would completely trust. Unfortunately, most of the 'research' on the subject comes from 'unsavory' sources, meaning conspiracy theory health nuts (like my mother).

 

I think they have a good point though, especially considering that milk is not a necessary source of calcium (green leafy vegetables) has too much cholesterol anyway, and hormone overuse seems to have negative effects.

 

This is pretty popular piece of writing in health nut circles. The doctor claims he is well researched, but doesn't give all his sources. He blames milk consumption for everything from allergies to cancer.

 

I don't know if he's right or wrong, but its an interesting perspective. I don't think there's enough mainstream research going into it. But (not trying to be a conspiracy theorist here) the dairy boards in this country are pretty powerful. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that they were suppressing research (not that I think they are).

Yeah, that's why I'm trying my luck here.. I couldn't find anything substantial enough to base a conclusion on. And I love milk too much to give it up on the base of some paranoid groups of people with an addition of 'healthnoia'.

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well, I think you could reduce consumption of milk, and increase spinach consumption on the argument of cholesterol/ fat alone.

 

And, personally, lots of dairy gives me congestion, so I never drink milk anyway.

 

I wouldn't take those 'got milk' commercials at face value either, though. There are certainly more healthy sources of calcium out there.

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Cholesterol in foods does not have a significant effect on blood cholesterol, last I heard.

 

I've heard that too, but I'm not sure if I believe it. Source?

 

I just tried several different searches in PubMed and didn't find anything negative.

Here's a study linking early exposure to cow's milk with type 1 diabetes: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18503496?ordinalpos=7&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

 

I'm looking for more.

 

 

Found a more general review for you, Mooey. It doesn't seem to have much negative to say: http://www.lipidworld.com/content/6/1/25 The most negative (besides for allergy caused by early exposure) is that cow's milk is lacking in essential amino acids necessary for pre and post natal development. So maybe if you're pregnant, then make sure you get them from other sources, and young children shouldn't be drinking it.

 

The review doesn't mention hormone use though. I'll keep looking for that.

Edited by ecoli
multiple post merged
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I remember reading once upon a time that the homogenization process was suspect, breaking up the fats so they didn't separate from the water. Before homogenization, you had to shake milk up to blend the liposomes with the rest of the milk.

 

IIRC, homogenization actually increases the amount of proteins you receive from it, which sounds like a good thing, but is not what nature intended. Like many things, nature assumes most protein hormones won't survive so milk has a lot. Homogenization also insures you'll be ingesting all the steroids the cow was given as well.

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Well, nutrition information drives me nuts. Whatever they say seems to be upended years later. IMO, moderation is key. Most of the problems associated with milk are people who are intolerant to it. So, if you like it and it likes you, I would not eliminate it from your diet. Personally, I love milk as well - especially with sweets. I use Plain soy milk for cereal and sometimes drink it, but I still drink regular milk, especially with the sweets.

 

 

Soy Milk and certain veggies - broccoli can give calcium and other benefits

 

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/304862/a_nutrition_comparison_of_regular_milk.html

 

 

Tea + Milk - not a good idea

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070108191523.htm

 

Milk promotes muscle and fat loss - helps reduce chance of type 2 diabetes. Milk has some advantages that cannot be replaced by Soy. I don't look at it as a health drink though, just a luxury to have now and then

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070808104257.htm

 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156229,00.html

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I guess the true test is that even young cows stop drinking the stuff at a certain point. No other animal drinks another animal's milk except for humans. I just don't think it's that great for us.

 

Marketing and subsidization have insured milk its place on our tables. It's like Anita Bryant telling everyone that, "A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine". That little ad campaign produced more than a few diabetics, I'm sure.

 

 

My summarized opinion? I drink scotch and smoke cigars. Milk is not exactly high on my list of health concerns. :)
At least osteoporosis will take your mind off the fact that your liver and lungs are shot. ;)
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I guess the true test is that even young cows stop drinking the stuff at a certain point. No other animal drinks another animal's milk except for humans. I just don't think it's that great for us.

I wouldn't take that as much of an 'excuse' though, Phi.. there are many things no other animal is eating other than us, that are not bad (and even good) for us. Cooked meat is one example. I'm sure there's many.

 

Marketing and subsidization have insured milk its place on our tables. It's like Anita Bryant telling everyone that, "A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine". That little ad campaign produced more than a few diabetics, I'm sure.

 

And there are enough countries that don't have the same capitalistic-forces that exist in America to may cause this extra-commercial-despite-health craze that do endorse milk.

 

I don't think milk is BAD for us, I am just not sure how good it is... I'm going to continue drinking it (of course in moderation, as anything) but also going to still look for scientific evidence either way.

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I've had pretty large quantities of milk before without suffering any ill effects, I'm gonna say that it's not deadly, unless it has like, smashed up glass in it, and razor blades.

 

That would be...rather unfortunate.

 

I don't know much about health benefits in milk, but I do know a random fact that might possibly be mildly interesting: Milk is actually proven to help you sleep, it has tryptophan in it, I believe, which causes you to feel sleepy.

This is also the same chemical in turkey...which is why after Thanksgiving (for Americans) you feel like you're going to pass out.

 

Personally I never really cared whether or not milk was good or bad for me, I usually have a glass a day, but lately after a friend introduced me to it, I'm starting to think that perhaps soy milk tastes better.

If you're really worried, try switching.

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Well, I think that if we lived to be 200 years of age medicine would have a few new books. At his point, I'd go ahead and enjoy milk (if you like it).

 

This is not, however, the first time I have heard this question. This means that we need a little science that is not "presented" (sic) by the media...

 

I will try to get a hold of some "organic" (never had inorganic milk, myself, ahem) milk. Likewise I will acquire some more pedestrian material. I will precipitate the protein out with trichloroacetic acid, centrifuge, then extract the material with hexane. I will then extract the defatted milks with dichloromethane. The extracts will be concentrated and subject to GC-MS.

 

If there are any significant differences between the two, I will post the results here.

 

Why not?

 

O3

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I think it would be fun to see your results, Ozone. Definitely. :)

 

However, it doesn't really address the question of the OP, since you are comparing organic versus inorganic milk (specifically, the constituent compounds), instead of directly studying the effect of bovine milk itself on the human body post adolescence.

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That would be...rather unfortunate.

 

I don't know much about health benefits in milk, but I do know a random fact that might possibly be mildly interesting: Milk is actually proven to help you sleep, it has tryptophan in it, I believe, which causes you to feel sleepy.

This is also the same chemical in turkey...which is why after Thanksgiving (for Americans) you feel like you're going to pass out.

Urban legend, actually. There's not enough tryptophan in turkey to induce sleepiness. It's just the effect from over-eating in general.

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Urban legend, actually. There's not enough tryptophan in turkey to induce sleepiness. It's just the effect from over-eating in general.

 

I always wondered why women seemed to be immune from it. As I remember, all the men would be zonked out around the TV, while the women were cleaning and talking. :D

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I always wondered why women seemed to be immune from it. As I remember, all the men would be zonked out around the TV, while the women were cleaning and talking. :D

 

Hm, funny.. at my barbicues it's usually the other way around. :rolleyes:

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I wouldn't take that as much of an 'excuse' though, Phi.. there are many things no other animal is eating other than us, that are not bad (and even good) for us. Cooked meat is one example. I'm sure there's many.
But eating cooked meat is something we've evolved to do, gradually losing the larger gut that helps other creatures digest raw meat. My point is that a cow's milk is for calves, and even they stop drinking it the same as a human infant stops drinking its mother's milk. Mother's milk (whatever the mammal) is perfect for infants but loses its effectiveness as a food source after a while.

 

Is the milk in Israel homogenized? If not, I wonder if that's why US milk tastes "plasticky" to you. Homogenization makes the milk blander but it feels creamier on the tongue because the fat has been pulverized and spread more evenly throughout the fluid. The process has been used less than 80 years and was a marketing response from dairymen who knew they could sell more milk if it didn't separate so easily.

 

The osteoporosis angle should be investigated. It makes sense that we'd have problems when ingesting a substance that makes our bones stronger while simultaneously adding growth hormones into our system.

 

I haven't read all of this yet, but here is a pro/con sheet on homogenized milk. It seems to have just as many pros as cons.

 

 

And there are enough countries that don't have the same capitalistic-forces that exist in America to may cause this extra-commercial-despite-health craze that do endorse milk.
But we're talking about the milk you're drinking here in the US. Did you know that milk sales are subsidized by the US government? The dairy farmers have a very powerful lobby.

 

I don't think milk is BAD for us, I am just not sure how good it is... I'm going to continue drinking it (of course in moderation, as anything) but also going to still look for scientific evidence either way.
I agree that, in moderation, milk isn't BAD (caps) but I do think homogenized milk is bad (lower case) because it changes the composition and bypasses many of our bodies natural mechanisms (which always makes me leery - we're not perfectly designed but I do respect natural mechanisms). There's a lot of conflicting studies (mostly because the dairy farmers have their own "scientists") and I wonder if we'll ever be able to answer the question, "Got proof?" Edited by Phi for All
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  • 2 weeks later...
Well, I think that if we lived to be 200 years of age medicine would have a few new books. At his point, I'd go ahead and enjoy milk (if you like it).

 

This is not, however, the first time I have heard this question. This means that we need a little science that is not "presented" (sic) by the media...

 

I will try to get a hold of some "organic" (never had inorganic milk, myself, ahem) milk. Likewise I will acquire some more pedestrian material. I will precipitate the protein out with trichloroacetic acid, centrifuge, then extract the material with hexane. I will then extract the defatted milks with dichloromethane. The extracts will be concentrated and subject to GC-MS.

 

If there are any significant differences between the two, I will post the results here.

 

Why not?

 

O3

 

I too would like to see the results of that experiment. Of course if protein content in included in the dietary facts section, that would do nicely too.

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Milk contains fat. Drink only low fat milk. Drink heaps of it.

 

If you are caucasian, you belong to a human group that has been drinking cow's milk for some thousands of years - long enough to induce a genetic change from evolution. Caucasians (except for a minority) now have a gene that gives lactose tolerance, and allows us to metabolise lactose as a useful energy source.

 

The downside of milk is :

1. Not a replacement for mother's milk for babies.

2. 'Normal' milk has too much saturated fat.

3. A minority of people are intolerant.

 

If you are not a baby, drink only low fat milk, and are not milk intolerant, then you can drink plenty with only benefits to your health. Low fat milk is, regardless of what one contributor said, about the best source of easily assimilated calcium we can get, and a major tool in the battle against osteoporosis. It also contains vitamin D, which is often in shortage during the winter in colder countries, since we get less solar exposure. Lack of vitamin D has been shown to correlate with higher rates of many cancers.

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I'm not a milk drinker but do have it occassionally with sweets or if I want a little more in my stomach than water. I do not worry about the amount our 4yo daughter consumes either and she has at least 3 glasses per day of plain ol' skim milk.

 

 

The Scientist did an article in Feb2007 (sorry, I can't access the on-line version) about milk and some of the info on the "good and the bad" stories out there. It gives perspectives from many different sides. Bottom line was to watch the amount of milk consumed per day and that some of the nutritional value we get from milk is difficult to replace with other foods. The consensus was that this is a very dynamic area of research since it is evolving and there are trends but nothing definitive.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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