Cow’s Milk is Meant for Baby Cows.
Lactose Intolerance, Calcium and the Rise of Osteoporosis
A Few Facts About Cow’s Milk.
Cow’s milk contains about 5% Lactose, or milk sugar.
Lactose requires and enzyme, Lactase, to break it down in the small intestine.
Some people in the world naturally do not produce Lactase.
The WHO suggests that 68% of the world population is in fact Lactose Intolerant!
The Kligerman Centre, US, suggests lactase is not produced by 75% of Asians, Africans and Native American Indians. In Caucasians its only about 25%.
Figures for intolerance in offspring of mixed parental ancestry are not available.
Lactose is the sugar found in the milk of mammals, and requires an enzyme, Lactase, to break it down. The majority of adult humans in the world do not produce lactase and therefore have difficulty digesting cow’s milk. They are said to be lactose intolerant.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) suggests that 68% of the world population is in fact lactose intolerant. Some references put that figure even higher in certain ethnic groups, being most prevalent in people of East Asian descent, affecting more than 90 percent of adults in some communities. It is also very common in people of West African, Arab, Jewish, Greek, and Italian descent. Incidence is lowest in populations with a long history of dependence on unfermented milk products, occurring in only 5 percent of people of Northern European descent. Figures are not available for offspring of recent mixed parental ancestry, but for the child of a Swedish father and Thai mother, there is a high probability they are lactose intolerant.
The balance of nutrients in cow’s milk is different from that of human milk; each having developed their own unique blend of fats and nutrients over millions of years to provide precisely the right constituents for their OWN babies. The fats in milk are particularly important for development of the brain and nervous system. Even if you are in that minority who can digest cow’s milk it doesn’t provide human babies with the right nutrition at a critical time of development.
Most children lose the ability to breakdown lactose after suckling has finished. Beyond suckling age (say 18 months), there is no biological reason why humans need their mother’s milk; their nutritional requirement has changed and is better met with solid food. There is even less reason why adults need to drink the milk of another mammal to meet an imagined demand.
The question that always arises about milk avoidance is, “What about the calcium?” Consider this; if you’re unable to digest cow’s milk, how much calcium are you actually going to derive from it? Cow’s milk contains by volume about 3% calcium, but after suckling age, biologically this is poorly digested, even less so if you don’t produce lactase. So contrary to popular belief cow’s milk is actually a poor source of calcium for most. By comparison, broccoli, with calcium at 4% by volume, and biologically available, is a far better source, as indeed are any vegetables containing calcium, and you won't develop an intolerance to them after suckling age.
The way bone health and bone disease such as osteoporosis is usually presented to us creates the believe that it's all about calcium, but that's a desperately short-sighted view. The process of bone synthesis requires all 50 essential nutrients in some proportion, whether it be for collagen synthesis or hormonal instructions, a deficiency of any one nutrient will result in sub-optimum bone density. The benefits to humans of calcium from cow’s milk, is simply a marketing strategy used by milk marketing boards around the world. They rely on a lack of knowledge of physiology to sell something you don't need.
The consumption of cow’s milk was in fact uncommon in our history right up to 1862 when Louis Pasteur developed a technique to preserve it, enabling distribution of 'fresh' milk beyond the farm. Milk bottles were not introduced until 1874 in the U.S. and 1880 in the UK. So it’s really only been in the last 130 years, of 200,000 years Homo Sapiens have existed on Earth, that cow’s milk has been readily available to the masses and marketed as a healthy food. This fact needs to be considered alongside statistics currently published by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), that worldwide 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 will suffer fractures due to reduced bone density. That is an extraordinarily high percentage considering the volume of milk consumption in the world today and the volume of calcium tablets handed out in prescription drugs to counter osteoporosis. One does have to question the message from milk marketing boards and doctors alike of milk’s ability to maintain bone health.
How to know if you're Lactose Intolerant?
There are simple tests your doctor can perform to identify lactose intolerance. You could also do a rough test yourself at home: Don't touch a drop of milk or any other dairy products for a week, then have glass of milk for breakfast, milky coffee with lunch and a rice pudding with your evening meal, and assess your reaction. It may produce such symptoms as tummy ache, headache, joint pains, general fatigue or bad breath.
If you can’t breakdown lactose, it passes into the small intestine undigested, and sits there rotting until it passes into the toilet. This frequently produces abdominal PAIN! Pain, without injury, is a warning. Its telling you something is not quite right.
You could try lactose free milk, but not only is this pretty miserable, your brain has become used to reacting badly to milk, and even though the problematic element may be removed, it still 'looks like' milk, and may well produce exactly the same set of symptoms. My advice if you want to test your tolerance is to consume nothing which looks like dairy. There are plenty of dairy milk alternatives on the market including, soya, oat and rice. If choosing one of these, their sugar content is often quite high. The best alternative is to make your own from raw soya beans, almonds or oats.
Finally, I don’t know of any other mammal that habitually drinks the milk of another, and I suspect there is a reason for that. Cow’s milk is meant for baby cows, not adult humans.
Article by David Wells 2021
The perspective shared in this article comes not just from medical training but from symptoms and treatment protocols observed over more than 20 years of clinical experience.
If you found this article interesting, this topic and many more are explained in depth in the book, 'Finding Awesome: Proven Steps to Extraordinary Health'. Read more about it here.