Rethinking Our Kids' Dairy Servings / Does milk really do a body good?

WORDS
Kate Naumes and Carina Parikh
PUBLISHED
November 2015 in
DallasChild, FortWorthChild, NorthTexasChild
UPDATED
October 26, 2015
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Recently, a mom brought her 2-year-old son to our holistic medicine office, wondering if diet was causing his smelly gas, stomachaches and chronic ear infections. After reviewing the child’s diet diary, we suggested temporarily eliminating cows’ milk to see if symptoms improved. The mom was skeptical, but the family’s pediatrician ran the appropriate lab tests and found that the child was indeed lactose intolerant. After we helped implement the necessary dietary changes for eight weeks, the boy’s symptoms went away. Two months later, he continues to be free of further ear infections.
 
Here in the United States, we have been told that dairy —especially cow-based dairy — is a pillar for health and a nutritious diet. We are also encouraged to drink two-three glasses of cows’ milk per day in order to meet calcium and Vitamin D requirements. However, it may be time to reconsider those notions.
 
Cows are often treated with various synthetic hormones and antibiotics — and those chemicals transfer to their milk. So when you drink milk or consume cow-dairy products, especially non-organic ones, you run the risk of ingesting a number of chemicals that may have a negative effect on the growth, development and overall vitality of children and teenagers. Research shows that cows’ dairy increases “insulin-like growth factor 1,” which is implicated in a variety of cancers. Milk intake has also been linked to an increased risk of cholesterol and atherosclerosis, increased systemic inflammation, digestive issues, ear infections and acne. And though organic milk products are less likely to have synthetic additives, they still may be found. Meanwhile, did you know organic milk is pasteurized the same way as non-organic milk? Unfortunately, this process kills not only the bad bacteria, but also the good enzymes that help our body break down and absorb the milk.
 
Perhaps surprisingly, most adults are unable to effectively break down lactose on their own. Babies are born with higher amounts of lactase, which is the enzyme necessary to break down lactose. But as a child ages, the amount of lactase in the body decreases. An estimated 75 percent of human adults around the world are lactose intolerant, including 20-25 percent of Americans of European descent. It may be difficult to know if you are lactose intolerant unless you remove it from your diet for a few weeks and then try reintroducing it. Another option is taking a hydrogen breath test at your doctor’s office to determine how your body processes lactose.
 
Fortunately, there are alternatives to traditional cows’ milk. Goats’ and sheeps’ milk have less lactose than cows’ milk, so many people find these dairy products easier to digest. On top of that, goat dairy contains significantly less casein, a protein in milk to which many people are sensitive. Another benefit: Goat and sheep dairy do not have to undergo homogenization because they are naturally homogenized. Unfortunately, the homogenization process common to cows’ milk releases free radicals that can cause systemic inflammation — these free radicals are even linked to some cancers.
 
A more controversial alternative is to buy organic raw milk, which has not been pasteurized or homogenized, from grass-fed cows. Raw milk contains digestive enzymes, omega-3 fatty acids and bacteria that are good for your digestive system. It has tons of vitamins and minerals and phosphatase — an enzyme that helps absorb calcium. Even though raw milk still contains the proteins and lactose that many humans have problems digesting, the milk also contains live cultures and enzymes to help break down those proteins and sugars. A glass of raw milk per day may be a beneficial addition to your daily routine. But if you seek raw milk, it is important to visit the source farm and see the cleanliness and standards used.
 
Everyone knows that Americans of all ages clearly love dairy. We understand that — it’s an easy, simple source of protein and calories. But it may be in the best interests of you and your family to rethink just how much cows’ dairy is necessary for a healthy, balanced diet.
 
Dr. Kate Naumes, ND, and nutritionist Carina Parikh see patients at Holistic Wellness in Dallas.

Published November 2015


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