Is Cow's Milk Healthy?

Is Cow's Milk Healthy?

Healthy? Maybe not... (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

In recent years, the healthy reputation of dairy products has come under scrutiny. Here are some reasons why we should rethink our consumption of milk, and consider the benefits of consuming plant-based milk!

Commercially available milk is not a natural product

Although mother cows naturally produce milk as food for their calves, commercially available milk is a processed food and can contain residues of pesticides and heavy metals,  as well as harmful bacteria. Milk is pasteurized in order to eliminate these microorganisms but this results in the destruction or reduction of the vitamins contained in unprocessed animal milk. This is particularly the case with high-temperature processing, which is used for the production of long-life or UHT milk. Bacteria, dirt particles, and animal hair are also filtered out of cow's milk before it is packaged and distributed.

Cow's milk contains unhealthy substances

Cow's milk contains calcium as well as protein and vitamins B2 and B12, but dairy products also contain unhealthy substances such as saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, cholesterol, and sodium. These are associated with the development of cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disease...

Dairy is losing its status as a recommended food

Until recently, dairy products have been recommended in national dietary recommendations. But things are changing! For example, the Canadian health authority recently revised its national nutrition recommendations, shifting the focus to diets rich in plant-based foods.

Growth hormones in milk can promote cancer

Because the function of cow's milk is to ensure the rapid growth of young animals, it contains growth-promoting substances, including the growth hormone IGF-1, for example, which is at the center of cancer research because it is shown to contribute to tumor formation in humans.  

A 2014 research study showed an increased risk of prostate cancer in men who drank large quantities of animal milk, although calcium intake from plant-based sources did not increase the risk. The chances of developing ovarian cancer also increase with greater animal milk consumption, due to the high intake of lactose.

Antibiotics and pus cells in milk

The mass farming of dairy cows can lead to the rapid spread of diseases on farms, which is one of the reasons why antibiotics are often added to feed. Heavy use of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance, which the World Health Organization has classified as a serious threat to global public health. Due to intensive farming and constant milking, many dairy cows suffer from an inflammation of the udder known as mastitis, which means pus is often present in cow's milk.

Lactose intolerance is widespread

Worldwide, three-quarters of people are lactose-intolerant, which means that they are unable to break down the lactose in animal milk and experience digestive problems and abdominal pain after a meal containing lactose.  

Skin irritations and digestive problems

Dairy products often receive praise for their relatively high protein content. But the proteins contained in cow's milk can lead to a range of allergic reactions, including skin irritations, respiratory and digestive problems, and even anaphylactic shock.

Plant-based foods can provide all the calcium you need!

A plant-based diet can provide the body with plenty of calcium. Calcium-rich foods include tahini (sesame paste), almonds, rocket, and kale, and many plant-based milks are fortified with calcium.

The health benefits of plant-based milk

Unlike dairy milk, plant-based milks contain no cholesterol, saturated fatty acids (with the exception of coconut), or unhealthy trans fatty acids. And research shows that soya products, including soya milk, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.  

From a nutritional perspective, soya milk is the best alternative to dairy milk, partly due to its high protein content. Milks made from cereals, such as oat, spelt, and rice milk, are also good alternatives due to their natural sweetness and high fiber content. Unsweetened almond milk is particularly low in calories, while hemp milk is rich in ‘healthy’ fats.

Many plant milk varieties are also enriched with calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, making them a suitable alternative to dairy milk in this respect, too. With so many delicious varieties on offer, there’s no better time to make the switch to plant milk. It’s better for the planet, animals and you!