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The average American consumes a whopping 600 pounds of dairy products a year. And no wonder. Generations of children grow up, encouraged to drink their milk. We are taught that milk is good for us.
But…is it? Does milk do a body good?
There are signs and symptoms that indicate whether a dairy, or lactose, intolerance exists. Additionally, there is more to be aware of, whether there is an intolerance or not.
Check out these reasons why cow’s milk can be a health concern.
Lactose is a type of sugar found in the milk of most mammals. The enzyme lactase functions by breaking down lactose. Children usually fare well with milk, although dairy sensitivities seem to be occurring at earlier ages.
However, by adulthood 70% of the population no longer produces enough lactase to properly digest the lactose in milk. Symptoms of lactose intolerance begin to appear, ranging from mild to severe.
Common Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Digestive Disorders – Digestive distress is the most common sign that the body is not tolerating milk. Symptoms include stomach pain and bloating, diarrhea, increased gas, indigestion and, more rarely, constipation.
Digestive problems, due to lactose intolerance, are often material for jokes. (Think of the character Leonard, on Big Bang Theory!) However, the discomfort is no laughing matter.
Abdominal pain and bloating occur when the lactose, that cannot be broken down by lactase, ferments in the gut. As it ferments, the lactose produces fatty acids and gases, creating a host of problems. Those fatty acids increase the amount of water in the gut, which can cause diarrhea.
Other Symptoms – While digestive disorders are the most well known signs of lactose intolerance, dairy can contribute to other health issues as well. These include headaches, fatigue, loss of concentration, muscle and joint pain, mouth ulcers, eczema and an increase in mucus production and/or a thickening of mucus, causing congestion.
How do you know if milk is making you feel bad?
Typically milk related symptoms begin 30 minutes to 2 hours after drinking or eating food with dairy in it. As with testing for gluten intolerance, it helps to keep a daily food diary and note when symptoms occur, to see if there is a connection.
Try removing all dairy products from the diet for at least 10 days, and see if health improves while symptoms abate. It can take 10 to 21 days to eliminate cow milk protein from the body and experience changes. Give it some time.
Other Dairy Concerns
The symptoms of lactose intolerance are unpleasant. However, there are greater concerns connected with consuming dairy products.
Cow’s milk contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are necessary to keep the cows lactating. These increase the risk of hormone dependent diseases such as ovarian, uterine, breast, testicular and prostate cancers. Casein, the main protein in milk, actually facilitates the growth of cancer.
In addition to hormones, milk contains pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli, pesticides and antibiotics. The high level of antibiotics in cows contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans. Because cows are fed GMO corn and soy, and gluten, those health busters are passed on to people, in the milk. These in turn create heightened allergic responses to allergens.
The fat in milk is hard on the liver, bogging down its functioning, while putting stress on the pancreas. Those who consume dairy products are more likely to develop Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. That dairy fat feeds inflammation throughout the body, and it is a favorite food source for viruses and bacteria living there. When trying to heal from any major illness or chronic disease, eliminating dairy helps the body to recover.
Cow’s Milk is for Cow Babies
All female mammals, including humans, produce milk for their babies. Each mammal produces a specific milk that is perfectly created for their offspring. It is designed to help the babies grow. Human milk is for human babies. And cow’s milk is for calves, which grow at a more rapid rate than humans.
No other species continues to consume milk past the weaning period, and certainly not from other species, except for humans. It is something to think about, in the quest for better health and well being.
Fortunately, for those who love their dairy products, there are healthy, plant based alternatives.
Watch for my blog post next week, comparing plant based milks that available.
Check out my Amazon Storefront for herbal tea blends to drink.
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