Friday, March 18, 2011

Should Adult Humans Drink Milk?


I like milk. And I like milk products, such as cottage cheese, hard cheese, and butter. As long as I don't overdo it, and keep my daily input to two cups or less, drinking 1-percent, 2-percent, or non-fat cow's milk seems to have no harmful effect on me. More than that, though, does seem to cause some discomfort due to increased intestinal gas.

So, I've been wondering about the wisdom of switching to soy milk and other soy-like products instead.

At Go Ask Alice which is a highly recommended website, I learned:

What's most commonly referred to as milk is cow's milk, which is a product of the mammary gland. As with all other animal-based foods, it's a complete protein; that is, it supplies people with all the necessary amino acids to form proteins. All cow's milk contain 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbohydrate per cup. Cow's milk is a rich source of other nutrients as well. One cup provides adults with 30 percent of their daily calcium needs and about 50 percent of their vitamin B12 and riboflavin requirements. Often it's fortified with vitamin D to facilitate the absorption of calcium. Vitamin A is usually added to milk as well. Depending on the selection, cow's milk can have a significant amount of fat.

Soy milk is not technically a milk, but a beverage made from soybeans. It is the liquid that remains after soybeans are soaked, finely ground, and then strained. Since it doesn't contain any lactose, soy milk is suitable for lactose intolerant folks. It's also a popular cow's milk substitute for vegetarians since it's based on a plant source.

So . . .
should I drink cow's milk?
Or soy milk?
Or neither?


* Calcium, which is important for healthy bones, is abundant in milk and dairy products. Although it's possible to get ample calcium without milk, it does take some careful planning. Additionally, the calcium in milk is well absorbed by the digestive tract because the vitamin D and lactose found in milk facilitate calcium absorption.
* Skim milk and products made from skim milk are very low in fat and cholesterol, and contain a complete source of protein.
* Milk is also a good source of phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and riboflavin (a B vitamin).


* Whole milk, or anything made of whole milk, is high in saturated fat, which can increase cholesterol level.
* Milk is a common cause of food allergy (allergy to milk protein).
* Many people, especially adults, lack the enzyme to digest lactose (milk sugar). This is called lactose intolerance, which causes bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
* Milk (and meat for that matter) may contain the antibiotics given to the animal before slaughter. It has been argued that when humans then eat the dairy or meat products, they absorb the antibiotics, potentially allowing for bacteria harmful to humans to become more resistant to these antibiotics. The consequence is that when antibiotics are prescribed, they may not be as effective at killing the bacteria as they once were.

The Dairy Council has more information on the pros of milk. Nutritionists recommend their booklet called "Newer Knowledge of Milk and Other Fluid Dairy Products."

One of the CONS related to soy products is the effect on the thyroid gland.

There is some confusion about soy and your thyroid, because the knowledge in this area does not seem to yield specific answers. So far, here is what we know: two isoflavones found in soy -- genistein and daidzein -- compete for an enzyme that is used to make thyroid hormone. Usually, the effects are only seen when a person is iodine deficient (iodine is needed for thyroid hormone, too). Soy isoflavones' impact on thyroid status has been studied for years. Animal studies have been inconsistent in proving soy intake influenced thyroid status. Studies on infants born with thyroid disease showed that increased levels of thyroid hormone replacement was necessary when fed soy formula, but the exact reason for this remains unclear. There are no studies to date measuring the effect of isoflavone intake on thyroid hormone status in adults with hypothyroidism.

But, as usual, I am still confused about whether it would be best for me to drink cow's milk, soy milk, or neither of the two.

The there is Kefir.

One form of fermented milk is called Kefir which is an incredible beverage when you make it yourself. The store-bought kefir just isn't the same because it's usually dead, flat and pasteurized. But home-made kefir is something else entirely! It's alive, energetic and completely natural.

But... I think that's enough about milk...
don't you?

A few middle-aged couples are chatting at a dinner party when one husband, Harry, starts talking enthusiastically about a new restaurant he has just visited with his wife. What's its name, demands a friend. Harry looks blank. There is an awkward pause. "What are those good-smelling flowers with thorns called again?" he eventually asks. A rose, he is told. "Yes that's it," Harry announces before turning to his wife. "Rose, what's that restaurant we went to the other night?"


Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people.

--A Great Mind

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