Most parents give milk to their children with every meal because it is thought of as a wholesome food.
And it is when it’s in its raw form and sourced from cows that were fed non-contaminated grass or that weren’t injected with hormones. It’s too bad that the milk that winds up in our glasses nowadays is far from this unadulterated state and instead may be a veritable chemical cocktail!
So…Just What’s Really in Your Milk?
There was a highly sensitive test that Spanish and Moroccan researchers did to determine what types of medications could be found in a variety of milk and the results were quite surprising. They have hit the chemical jackpot. Medications used to treat diseases in both humans and animals were revealed. Among the drugs and hormones detected were:
Anti-inflammatories (niflumic acid, mefenamic acid, ketoprofen, diclofenac, phenylbutazone, naproxen, flunixin, diclofenac) Antibiotics (florfenicol) Natural hormones (estrone)
Sex hormones (17-beta-estradiol) Steroid hormones (17-alpha-ethinylestradiol) Anti-malaria drugs (pyrimethamine)
Anti-fungal drugs (triclosan)
These drugs and hormones were given to the cows either directly or from the cattle food and contamination on the farm.
The truth of the matter is, there are chemical contaminants showing up throughout the entire food chain which is why it very important to choose your food wisely, from farmers who make efforts to avoid toxins like these and certainly don’t add to the problem by supplying them directly. If you buy your milk in most supermarkets, you can bet 9 out of 10 that it will probably contain contaminants you’d be better off avoiding.
It’s hard enough to raise pure food these days considering the amount of pollution the environment faces so finding pure water and soil can be a challenge. Now when it comes to Big dairy, they are contributing to this pollution and taking no steps to ensure that their cows, or the milk they produce, are free from drugs and hormones. In fact, they readily feed these chemicals to the cows; it’s an integral part of the farming method on CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations).
When dairy cows are slaughtered, USDA inspectors test for dozens of compounds, instead of just the six required for milk.
Documents CBS13 requested under the Freedom of Information Act show 17 different types of antibiotics, as well as other compounds, have shown up in California dairy cow meat since 2007.
The findings showed levels of Ampicillin, Amoxicillin, Chloramphenicol, Desfuroylceftiofur Cysteine Disulfide, Dihydrostreptomycin, Florfenicol, Fluoroquinolones, Gentamicin Sulfate, Lincomycin, Neomycin, Oxytetracycline, Penicillin, Pirlimycin, Spectinomycin, Tetracycline, Tilmicosin and other compounds.
Meat with illegal levels is flagged and destroyed — and the farmers are sent violation letters — but these antibiotics could still be ending up in FDA-approved dairy milk.
Would You Like Some Hormones With Your Milk? I think Not!
As if the chemicals weren’t enough, there’s also the issue of recombinant (genetically engineered) bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is used to increase the milk production in cows. Cows that were given the hormones can produce as much as 15-25 percent more milk and this increase in milk production has hidden costs, namely the cows’ and your health.
The FDA held on for decades that there’s “no significant difference” between the milk of cows given genetically modified artificial growth hormone and those that aren’t. Yeah right! The milk produced by these cows has been shown to be anything BUT identical to untreated milk.
Hormone-treated milk is different from non-treated milk because:
- It contains increased levels of the hormone IGF-1, which promotes cancer tumors. According to Dr. Epstein, professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, and Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, excess levels of IGF-1 have been incriminated as major causes of breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
- Hormone use “induces an unnatural period of milk production during a cow’s “negative energy phase.” Milk produced during this stage is considered to be low quality due to its increased fat content and its decreased level of proteins, an Ohio court, which ruled that milk in Ohio can still bear an “rbGH-free” label, stated.
- It contains increased somatic cell counts (SCC’s). This means the milk contains more pus, which makes it turn sour more quickly. Increased SCC count also affects the milk’s taste, smell, texture and color. Raised SCC levels is typically caused by the high incidence of mastitis in rBGH-injected cows.
Further, Dr. Epstein has pointed out several additional differences between rBGH milk and untreated milk and all of these factors can cause or contribute to health problems:
- Contamination of the milk by the GM hormone rBGH
- Contamination of the milk with illegal antibiotics and drugs used to treat mastitis and other rBGH-induced disease
- Increased concentration of the thyroid hormone enzyme thyroxin-5?-monodeiodinase
- Increased concentration of long-chain and decreased concentration of short-chain fatty acids
- A reduction in levels of the milk protein casein
So is organic milk the solution to purer milk? Ok yes, organic milk may not contain rBGH or routine antibiotics … but it will still have been pasteurized, and this seriously compromises the quality of the milk.
A better option is grass-fed RAW milk, which is nearly always better than organic milk if it is purchased from a conscious farmer. In that case, it may not be certified organic, but it will essentially be organic anyway, and drinking your milk raw is the superior choice. Milk from grass-fed cows, unlike grain-fed cows, will be high in CLA that is loaded with many health benefits including helping you lose weight.
Alternative to Cow’s Milk
Packed with protein and fibre, benefits of soya milk include the presence of cancer-fighting isoflavones, minimal saturated fat and the absence of galactose, which means that it can replace breast milk for galactosaemic children. It’s also safe for the lactose intolerant and anyone with a milk allergy. Because it comes from plants, there are no animal welfare issues associated with it and the growing soya plants absorb rather emit carbon – the direct opposite of dairy cows. There are some downsides though, chiefly that its sugar content can be high, particularly in the flavoured versions. Other issues include the increasing amount of land being used to farm it, which is leading to deforestation in some countries. However, its overall impact is still much less than that of cow’s milk, particularly when you choose an organic version.
Almond milk is good source of magnesium, which helps to break down food can help with the function of the parathyroid glands, thus helping improve the health of your bones. It’s also loaded with manganese, selenium and Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the cell membranes. Selenium is good for our immune system; it helps in reproduction, and in the metabolism of thyroid. It also prevents cell damage and tissue damage. Almond milk is also a good source of unsaturated fat, protein, flavonoids and potassium, and has less sugar than soya milk. Like soya milk though, it has a smaller carbon footprint by virtue of being derived from a plant source rather than a methane producing animal one. However, it doesn’t taste like cows milk by any stretch of the imagination, so it takes some getting used to if you’re looking for a true milk substitute. It’s also significantly more expensive as almonds, a hard-to-grow crop, are the main ingredient.
Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of all the milk substitutes and is extremely nutritious. It’s also the least fattening of all the milk alternatives with only one gram of unsaturated fat per cup. There are also plenty of heart healthy nutrients in rice milk. The unsaturated fat comes from rice bran oil, which can help lower your blood cholesterol. Niacin and vitamin B6 are also good for this while the high magnesium content helps to control your blood pressure. Iron and copper increases your red blood cell production, giving you better oxygenated blood and more vitality. On the downside, since rice is highly starchy, so is rice milk. One cup of rice milk contains 33 grams of sugary carbohydrates, three to four times the amount in milk or soya milk. If you have diabetes, rice milk can cause a sudden sugar overload. It also has a very low protein count compared to cow’s milk and soya, and the calcium content is also minimal, so choose the fortified product instead
Coconut milk is a very creamy, dairy-free alternative for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to animal milk. Those who subscribe to the low-carb lifestyle often prize coconut milk for it’s minimal starch content. A vegan drink, it is also soya-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free and nut-free while its fat content is considered to a ‘good fat’, easily metabolised by the body and quickly turned into energy rather than being stored as fat. Coconut milk is also rich in lauric acid, a substance also found in human milk, which researchers have shown have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Unlike other nut or plant milks, the saturated fat content of coconut milk is significant at five grams per serving, so drink it in moderation. It can solidify and separate when refrigerated, depending on the brand, so if you like a cold glass of milk, it’s an inconvenient choice since you have to stir it and let it warm up to room temperature in order to drink it. Some brands also have a strong flavour that can be a bit overpowering.