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Reasons to Avoid Milk and Dairy

Updated on June 19, 2013

If you watch only the promotions on television, you might think that milk and dairy are healthy. But if you read the scientific literature and listen to the health experts that studies nutritional science, you will find that there are quite a few problems with milk and dairy that affect susceptible populations in ways that one might want to avoid dairy.

Milk, and therefore dairy products that are made from milk, contain the problematic protein casein that is allergenic and immunologenic to some people. Then for other people who are lactose intolerance, they may have difficulty digesting the sugar lactose in milk. So if the protein and the sugar in milk is problematic, then the only nutritious component in milk is the fat and the vitamins. Unfortunately the pasteurization and homogenization processing of our commercial milk significantly reduces the nutrition content. In producing powered milk which may have been mixed to produce skim milk, the fat and cholesterol may even have been oxidized.

"Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at all Costs" by Dr. Mark Hyman

If you don't have the time to read this whole article with all the quotes from various authorities or to check out all the links to the references, just watch the quick YouTube video on the right by Dr. Mark Hyman who gives 6 reasons to avoid dairy.

It is no wonder that dairy is one category of food (along with grains and legumes) that is avoided in the Paleolithic diet.

Casein Allergy

Casein is one of the toughest proteins to digest and is not one of the essential amino acid protein that the body need to consume. Many people are allergic to the casein protein in milk. Even if one is not allergic to casein, it may still provoke an immunologic response in some people. This is when there is an immune response that is triggered by the presence of casein, which then leads to inflammation. And many people may not notice this internal reaction. This also is known as a food intolerance.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell showed in rat experiments that casein is linked to higher risk of cancer. [reference the book The China Study] However, these experiments were with casein alone, and it is debatable whether there would be this effect if casein was in the natural food products such as in milk.

Dairy is a Gluten Cross-Reactive Foods

Many people who are sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to casein and other milk proteins. Dairy is one of the many "gluten cross-reactive foods". If you are sensitive to gluten, you should get tested for casein and dairy and other cross-reactive foods. For sensitive individuals, these cross-reactive foods can have the same effect as gluten.

That is why dairy is one of 7 foods eliminated in the Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin. The seven foods are gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn, and sugar/artificial sweeteners. They are the foods most likely to cause food sensitivity.

In fact, cow's milk is the most allergenic food for children, followed by hen's eggs.

Dairy Sensitivity

In the book The Inside Tract, it writes ...

"Adverse reactions to milk and milk products are quite common and can result in a number of symptoms in the gastrointestinal tract, including bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and occasionally blood in the stool. Skin reactions such as eczema, hives, and tissue swelling as well as respiratory tract symptoms such as nasal congestion or asthma also occur in some people when they consume milk and milk products." [page 184]

Dairy Linked to Acne

There is an association with acne from the consumption of dairy for some people as mentioned in Dr. Mark Hyman's HuffingtonPost article. That is due to dairy's hormonal effects of boosting androgens (male sex hormones) and insulin, both of which encourages your skin to produce acne.

Correlation Between Dairy and Multiple Sclerosis

A study found that ...

"A good correlation between liquid cow milk and MS prevalence (rho = 0.836) was found; this correlation was highly significant (p < 0.001)."

There was a smaller (yet still significant) correlation between cream and butter consumption with multiple sclerosis. But no correlation found for cheese.

Article on has good information on the link between cow's milk and multiple sclerosis connection and hypothesize a plausible explanation. It writes that ...

"A number of cow’s milk proteins have been shown to be targeted by the immune cells of people with MS. Further injecting them into experimental animals has caused lesions to appear in the central nervous system of the animals. The cow's milk MS link is further reinforced by the finding that certain proteins in cow’s milk mimic part of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein, the part of myelin thought to initiate the autoimmune reaction in MS."

Another study suggest that higher consumption of dairy product may increase risk of Parkinson's in men.

Possible Link between Casein and Type 1 Diabetes

There are some evidence that suggests there might be a link between casein and Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease. A study found that people with Type 1 diabetes have enhanced levels of antibodies to casein.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is the sugar in milk. Lactose intolerance is the normal and usual condition in adults worldwide. Only about 30% to 40% of the world's adult population have the enzyme to digest lactose. Although certain populations has evolved the ability to digest milk to a greater degree than some. For example, in the Scandinavian countries, there may be as high as 90% of their population that can digest milk.

People who are on a low-FODMAP diet to reduce irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are often told to avoid lactose in dairy products. FODMAP is an acronym for "Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols". By avoiding these foods, people with IBS may experience some relief of symptoms.

Pasteurization of Milk

Not only that milk protein casein can be a problem, and that milk sugar lactose can also is a problem; yet another problem is the commercial processing of the cows and the milk.

Pasteurization destroys all the enzymes in milk and reduces many of the nutrients in milk. For example, loss of vitamin C can be up to 50%. Water-soluble vitamin B loss can be greater. Vitamin B12 can be totally destroyed. Trace minerals such as calcium, magnesium, postassium can be reduced as well.

Then chemicals are added to remove odor and improve taste. Then synthetic vitamin D may be added.

Powdered skim milk is even worst as it involves additional processing such as the dehydration process which oxidizes the cholesterol in milk making it harmful to the arteries. The dehydration process also causes cross-linking of proteins which is carcinogenic. This powered skim milk is added to commercial milk to produce the appropriate skim-ness of fat-free and 1%, 2% fat milk. Low-fat milk contains large amounts of oxidized cholesterol. You are probably better off getting the whole fat milk.

The book Nourishing Traditions say ...

"the milk sold in your supermarket is bad for everybody, partly because the modern cow is a freak of nature."[page 34]

The cow is not fed their natural diet. They are given growth hormones and antibiotics. Presence of bovine growth hormones can be found in the milk that they produce. has article listing 7 Foods That Should Never Cross Your Lips. Among the food is "milk produced with artificial hormones".

Homogenization of Milk

Homogenization of milk is when fat particles are strained through tiny pores under great pressure. This results in fat particles so small that they stay suspended in the milk rather than rise to the top. Unfortunately, this makes the fat and cholesterol more susceptible to oxidation and going rancid. Some even say that homogenized fats contribute to heart disease.

The book Primal Body, Primal Mind writes ...

"These milk products are highly processed and made up mainly of carbohydrates, and should be entirely avoided. They wouldn't even look like food to a baby cow." [page 28]

That is quite something when we take cow's milk which is the perfect food for calves and turn them and process them into products that calves no longer recognize.

That is why some health conscious people are drinking raw milk.

Healthiest Component of Milk is the Fat

It is the butterfat of milk that is the most healthy component of milk. A higher percentage of butterfat means a lower percentage of problematic protein casein and the problematic sugar lactose.

Whole milk contains 3.25% butterfat. While skim milk contains 0.5% butterfat. Based on the premise that butterfat is the healthy portion, then whole milk is healthier for you than skim milk. Check the box labels in milk and you will find that skim milk typically contains more sugar. Flavored milk is even worst at higher amounts of sugar. And we all know that sugar is bad. Here is article explaining why sugar is bad.

Extracting the fat (the good part) from milk, one produces cream, butter, and ghee which contains a higher concentration of butterfat.

The fat content of cream varies. But average medium thick cream contains 25% butterfat. Butter has 80% butterfat content and has very little casein and lactose. Ghee is clarified butter and contains the most butterfat and nearly no casein nor lactose.

Many people who can not tolerate milk, may be able to tolerate cream. And even more people can tolerate butter. And even more people can tolerate ghee. That is because as we go up the chain, we are removing the lactose and casein.

Therefore cream, butter, and ghee is healthier than milk. That is why some health-conscious people (especially those in the paleolithic diet crowd) will put cream, butter, and ghee into their coffee instead of milk.

Some may be wondering if all this saturated fat in dairy is unhealthy. Many are coming around to the opinion that saturated fat is okay and is not a problem.

What About the Calcium?

Many people drink milk for the calcium. However, you can get calcium from sardines and many other foods. A can of sardines with bones contain more calcium than a glass of milk.

There is much more than calcium that is needed for strong bones. You need magnesium, vitamin D, and resistance training in addition to calcium in order to have strong bones. In fact, vitamin D is needed in order to absorb calcium. And vitamin K2 is needed to ensure that calcium is deposited in the bones and teeth instead of in the soft tissues where it can increase risk of cardiovascular diseases.


This article was written October 2012 and is only opinion at the time of writing. Author is not a medical professional and may receive compensation from the display ads within article.


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