HIJ – No Milk Mustache For Me, Part 2
In my April column I discussed the revered place of cow’s milk in the American diet. I also mentioned a few of the reasons that milk has achieved this distinction, not the least of which is the millions of advertising dollars spent in promoting it as a viable food. I pointed out that the issue is not that clear-cut and that health professionals have raised serious questions about cow’s milk as a part of the human diet. Naturally, I received a number of e-mails and phone calls, mostly from folks who had no idea that cow’s milk was even an issue. Let’s continue the discussion.
Constituents of Cow's Milk
Like all milks, cow's milk is composed of sugar, fat and protein, along with vitamins and minerals suspended in water. The sugar (lactose) and protein are the constituents that are so indigestible to both infants and adults. The fat may pose cardiovascular problems later in life and the vitamins and minerals may not be as easily absorbable as once was thought.
Cow's Milk Protein
Although it is the lactose in milk that has drawn most of the attention from medical professionals, cows' milk has more than 30 constituent proteins, some of which are indigestible by humans and capable of giving rise to an allergic responses and other ailments like inflammatory joint disease. Beta-lactoglobulin, a protein not found in human milk, is the most common offender of cow's milk proteins.
A common reaction to the invasion of a protein so foreign to our digestive systems is a gushing of mucus from the nasal and throat membranes, creating chronic runny noses, sore throats, hoarseness and chronic ear infections.
The amount of protein in human breast milk diminishes as the child grows older. Starting at 2.38 percent at birth, it diminishes to 1.07 percent by the time the child is six months old. Cow's milk is 16 percent protein, a huge amount, which has been implicated in crib death.
Most of the worlds mammals are fed breast milk exclusively until they have tripled their birth weight, which in humans is about one year. After weaning, somewhere at a point between 1 and 4 years of age, approximately 70% of the population begin losing their ability to manufacture lactase, the enzyme which digests the lactose in milk. This is a normal process which occurs in most humans. It appears that nature never intended humans to consume lactose-containing foods after they were weaned.