Many of us grew up hearing our mothers say, “Finish your milk!” but consumption of this ubiquitous beverage has decreased in the U.S. by 30 percent since 1975 and over 3 percent more between 2001 and 2011. Experts blame the decline on the popularity of alternative milk and dairy products, more choices of bottled water and juice drinks, plus the increased popularity of dairy-excluding diets. Fewer of us are getting our milk mustaches these days and Dr. Jasmina Patel, D.C., Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Centers of Chicago’s Loop II location has information for us on why this might not be such a bad thing.
Milk - Not Doing the Body Good
The vast majority of milk sold in the United States is pasteurized, which is the process of heating and cooling to reduce spoilage. “The book Well Adjusted Babies, by Jennifer Barham-Floreani, discusses pasteurization studies that show the process actually distorts the shape of proteins in milk, converting them into proteins that can be harmful to your body,” says Dr. Jasmina. “The heating alters amino acids and disrupts protein absorption.” Dr. Jasmina also explains that pasteurization destroys beneficial enzymes and bacteria that help us digest milk, encourages free radical damage and affects availability of minerals in our body like calcium, magnesium and potassium. “In addition, pasteurized milk has added chemicals to suppress odor and improve taste with cheap, synthetic vitamins that are stressful for the body.”
The Casein Connection
If you or someone you know is lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, casein may be the cause. A binding protein found in the majority of U.S. milks and cheeses, an allergy to this protein can cause serious swelling, hives and nasal irritation, while intolerance causes bloating, pain, gas and diarrhea. “Casein is extremely irritating to the immune system, stimulating mucous production and aggravating chronic bronchitis, sinusitis and ear infections,” explains Dr. Jasmina. Because casein can be found in many products beyond milk, cheese and yogurt, pinpointing if you are allergic or intolerant to casein takes careful label reading, food reduction and re-introduction. Casein can be found in lunch meat, hot dogs, fast food, whipped topping and even soy-cheese.
If you’re thinking you might want to try reducing your dairy intake, Dr. Jasmina suggests adding more fresh organic vegetables to your diet, which are great sources of calcium. The best are dark leafy greens like broccoli, spinach, parsley and kale. Other sources of calcium are tinned fish—especially salmon, sardines and mackerel—nuts, brown rice, egg yolks and hummus.
Dr. Jasmina’s Four Thought-Provoking Dairy Facts
- The five highest dairy-consuming countries in the world also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. Correct diet, weight-bearing exercise and healthy lifestyle habits appear to be more important for strong bones than regularly drinking milk.
- Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates that 18 years of milk consumption did not prevent hip fractures in post-menopausal women.
- A Harvard Nurses’ Health Study determined that there is no positive association between teenage milk consumption and the risk of adult fractures.
- Dairy products commonly contain residues of antibiotics, steroid hormones and pesticides which are used in modern farming and weaken the immune system.
Dr. Jasmina has enjoyed a dairy-free diet for the past 13 years. “Having been diagnosed with Lupus at age 19, I became stricter with the dairy-free lifestyle to avoid excess inflammation in my already immunity-compromised body,” she says. “Couple that with four years of chiropractic care, acupuncture and exercise, I am proud to be Lupus-free and 30 pounds lighter.” By becoming dairy-free Dr. Jasmina says she’s discovered wellness and a newfound vitality for life.