Over the past few years, we have learned a number of startling truths about milk. As with many other products, what we once thought to be healthy for us to consume is turning out to be the exact opposite.
A large study coming from researchers at the Uppsala University in Sweden found that drinking milk led to an increased mortality rate and actually made bones more prone to fracturing, not less.
The study was recently published in the peer reviewed British Medical Journal, and was specifically conducted to examine whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in both men and women.
The study took place across three different counties in Sweden, and used data from two large Swedish cohorts, one with 61,433 women between the ages of 39 and 74, and the other with 45,339 men between the ages of 45 and 79. They were all administered food frequency questionnaires. The study used multivariable survival models to determine the association between milk consumption and time to mortality and fracture.
The results were as follows:
During a mean follow-up of 20.1 years, 15 541 women died and 17 252 had a fracture, of whom 4259 had a hip fracture. In the male cohort with a mean follow-up of 11.2 years, 10 112 men died and 5066 had a fracture, with 1166 hip fracture cases. In women the adjusted mortality hazard ratio for three or more glasses of milk a day compared with less than one glass a day was 1.93 (95% confidence interval 1.80 to 2.06). For every glass of milk, the adjusted hazard ratio of all cause mortality was 1.15 (1.13 to 1.17) in women and 1.03 (1.01 to 1.04) in men. For every glass of milk in women no reduction was observed in fracture risk with higher milk consumption for any fracture (1.02, 1.00 to 1.04) or for hip fracture (1.09, 1.05 to 1.13). The corresponding adjusted hazard ratios in men were 1.01 (0.99 to 1.03) and 1.03 (0.99 to 1.07). In subsamples of two additional cohorts, one in males and one in females, a positive association was seen between milk intake and both urine 8-iso-PGF2α (a biomarker of oxidative stress) and serum interleukin 6 (a main inflammatory biomarker).
The study concluded that high milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women.
This Is Not the Only Study That Suggests Milk Is Not Good For Our Body
In a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Harvard paediatrician David Ludwig emphasizes that bone fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk compared to those that do. He also notes that there are many other good sources of calcium available to us (source).
Another study published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that dairy consumption might actually increase the risk of fractures by 50%.
Studies have also shown that calcium isn’t as bone protective as we thought. Multiple studies on calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing bone fracture risk. In fact, vitamin D appears to be more effective when it comes to reducing bone fracture risk.
Studies have also shown that dairy products might increase a male’s risk of developing prostate cancer by 30-50%.
It’s also interesting to note that approximately 65-75% of the total human population on our planet has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy (source)(source). In some countries, over 90% of the adult population is lactose intolerant.
Lactose intolerance is an impaired ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Lactose is normally broken down by an enzyme called lactase, which is produced by cells in the lining of the small intestine.
Keep in mind that the milk we have so much trouble digesting after infancy is cow’s milk, not our mother’s natural breast milk. In fact, we are the only species on Earth that consumes the milk of another animal.
Since lactase’s only function is the digestion of lactose in milk, most mammal species experience a dramatic reduction in the activity of the enzyme after weaning. Lactase persistence in humans has evolved as an adaptation to our consumption of non-human milk and dairy products beyond infancy. Our diet has changed a lot, and as a result, some of our genes have adapted, but it’s not an easy process. This is why most humans are still lactose intolerant.
Every other species weans and then never drinks milk again for the rest of their lives. As a result, they don’t have an enzyme to break down the sugar in milk. But during human evolution, some humans experienced a mutation in the LTC gene, the lactase gene, which allowed us to process lactose as adults. With approximately 65-75% percent of humans on the planet unable to properly process it, it becomes clear that we are not doing what is natural and in accordance with our bodies.
Katherine S. Pollard, a PhD at the University of California, San Francisco, elaborates on this in the video below.
Dairy Is Not the Only Source of Calcium
Below is a list of 25 non dairy/vegan sources of calcium, many of which contain even more calcium than milk does. It’s important to do your research. There are so many foods out there that contain a healthy and abundant source of calcium.
1. Kale (1 cup contains 180 mg)
2. Collard Greens (1 cup contains over 350 mg)
3. Blackstrap Molasses (2 tablespoons contains 400 mg)
4. Tempeh (1 cup contains 215 mg)
5. Turnip Greens (1 cup contains 250 mg)
6. Fortified non-dairy milk (1 cup contains 200-300 mg)
7. Hemp milk (1 cup contains 460 mg)
8. Fortified orange juice (1 cup contains 300 mg)
9. Tahini (2 tablespoons contains 130 mg)
10. Almond butter (2 tablespoons contains 85 mg)
11. Great northern beans (1 cup contains 120 mg)
12. Soybeans (1 cup contains 175 mg)
13. Broccoli (1 cup contains 95 mg)
14. Raw fennel (1 medium bulb contains 115 mg)
15. Blackberries (1 cup contains 40 mg)
16. Black Currants (1 cup contains 62 mg)
17. Oranges (1 orange contains between 50 and 60 mg)
18. Dried apricots (1/2 cup contains 35 mg)
19. Figs (1/2 cup contains 120 mg)
20. Dates (1/2 cup contains 35 mg)
21. Artichoke (1 medium artichoke contains 55 mg)
22. Roasted sesame seeds (1 oz. contains 35 mg)
23. Adzuki beans (1 cup contains 65 mg)
24. Navy beans (1 cup contains 125 mg)
25. Amaranth (1 cup contains 275 mg)
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