Updated: May 24, 2019
"Do you know what is most frequently found in the stomach during autopsy? Undigested coffee with milk,"says Henri Chenot* in his interview for the Russian publication Style RBC.
Most of us were brought up in the tradition of drinking milk and consuming dairy products, believing that dairy is necessary for strong health. This was so deeply embedded into our brains that even despite much scientific evidence showing that dairy can negatively affect our health, it has preserved its positive image in many people's minds.
The dairy industry, grossing billions of dollars annually, continues to advertise and push its products, often targeting children, who do not understand marketing. The government collects fifteen cents for every hundredweight of milk sold or used in dairy products. The money is paid for by dairy farmers through checkoff fees and then used to promote milk and cheese. And the cycle continues.
In the last decades the consumption of milk has decreased dramatically, but the consumption of cheese is increasing. Meanwhile, cheese is the largest source of saturated fat, high in sodium and has more cholesterol than steak.
But today, more than ever, people take a genuine interest in learning the truth about what is actually good & healthy for them. The internet and social media made gaining and sharing such knowledge very easy, and millions of people decided to abstain from dairy in their diet.
So why is dairy bad for our health?
Dairy contains one of the most controversial animal-based proteins, casein, which composes 87% of animal milk. Studies showed that casein fed at a higher than 8-10% of total calorie intake promotes cancer. Dr. Neal Barnard, physician and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says that cheese-making concentrates the casein, making it the most concentrated form of casein in any food in the grocery store.
Cows are generally ten times bigger in size than humans and their calves can digest high amounts of casein, in fact, they need it for growth. But 75% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. The above makes people question why do we continue consuming milk past infancy, particularly milk of animal origin?
Dr. Barnard explains that dairy protein has opiate molecules built in: "Milk contains opiates that reward the baby for nursing." That is why cheese is not only fattening - it is also addictive.
"Dairy is nature’s perfect food — but only if you’re a calf," says Dr. Mark Hyman, a practicing family physician, a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field.
Milk also contains sex hormones forced into cows to hasten their growth. Studies show that these hormones can affect normal hormonal function and increase risk of cancer - a disease with which 41% of the population will be diagnosed during their lifetimes. Dr. Barnard suggests that giving up cheese is also associated with relief of asthma symptoms.
Animal protein and sodium, found in animal-based foods, actually leach calcium from the bones, causing osteoporosis. Dairy products contribute significant amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat to the diet, which are known to cause heart disease (primary cause of death for most Americans) and diabetes.
There is also the ethical argument.
Dr. Neal Barnard summarizes it perfectly: "All of us are concerned about our personal health and that of our families. But we are not alone on this planet, and our food choices have enormous effects on animals and the environment.
Dairy cows are artificially inseminated annually, then separated from their offspring so that we can take their milk, then killed by around age of 4 so that their higher-production offspring can take their place. A visit to a dairy farm will soon convince any thinking person that this is not civilization's proudest achievement."
Physicians agree that we can easily get our nutrients, including calcium, from eating lots of vegetables, fruits, gluten free grains, and nuts and seeds.
But if you are not ready to quit dairy cold turkey, there are plenty of dairy replacing products on the market. Read about our favorites in the next blog post: 5 Dairy Substitutes You Will Be Glad You've Tried.
*Chenot, the founder of the Chenot Group wellness centers that offer personalized medical, aesthetic and dietetic treatments, was discovered by the Missonis and Carla Fendi, and his spa was the secret of the Italian fashion industry, one shared only with Princess Caroline of Monaco and Luciano Pavarotti.