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Does Milk Really Do The Body Good? Calcium and Protein: A Mixture for Disaster

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Low-fat dairy products are now in vogue with many people who assume this type of diet to be a health advantage. Many people view milk and other dairy products as a "safety-net" to guard against degenerative diseases, such as osteoporosis. However, there may be better ways to get your calcium than from high-protein, high-fat animal products.

Low-fat and non-fat dairy products have been shown to make a greater contribution to osteoporosis, kidney problems, and certain forms of cancers. (1) In addition, dairy products are the leading culprit in food allergies. And low-fat varieties are actually more allergenic due to higher protein concentration. (2) In addition, it has been stated that dairy products cause a myraid of problems within the small intestines by interfering with intestinal permeability, thereby allowing large fragments of proteins to enter into the blood stream. This is also known as "leaky gut syndrome". This can lead to a host of physical problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, malabsorption of nutrients, obesity and mineral and amino acid deficiencies. (3)

A mother produces breastmilk containing antibodies to infectious agents that a newborn might be exposed to. If a mother breast feeds her newborn, a process known as diathelic immunity takes place, in which the baby receives the necessary antibodies to fight infection. (4) During the first 72-96 hours after childbirth, breastmilk contains colostrum, which carries immunoglobulins that greatly enhance the newborn's immunity against disease. Babies deprived of colostrum have considerably higher rates of viral and bacterial infections. (5) During the first 6 months of life, a baby's small intestine is highly permeable, allowing the maximum absorption of breastmilk and antibodies. During this 'leaky gut' period, the baby is most vulnerable to developing allergies. (6)

An abundance of articles have pinpointed that allergies to dairy products begin in a newborn's small intestine as a result of bottle feeding (either cow's milk or formula). Bottle fed babies suffer more pneumonia, middle-ear infections, respiratory infections, bacterial meningitis, neo-natal septicemia, thrush, and viral illnesses, including polio and herpes simplex. (7)

In fact, the risk of influenza and spinal meningitis for bottle fed babies is as much as sixteen times greater than the risk for breastfed babies. (8) Recent, comprehensive studies involving thousands of bottle fed babies found a direct correlation with the development of immune system disorders, including diabetes, chronic liver disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, spastic bowel disease, food allergies, obesity, coronary heart disease, and multiple sclerosis. (9)

The medical profession and the media encourage the public to drink milk and eat dairy products because "it does the body good". Nothing could be further from the truth! Higher calcium and protein intake is purported to lower the incidence of osteoporosis, according to the Dairy Council and those dietitians who refuse to study the medical literature that is not in accordance with the Dairy Industry's Commandments.

Dr. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., professor of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, is the Director of the China-Oxford Cornell Study, the largest study of diet and disease in medical history. His findings: High animal calcium and animal protein intake is the primary cause of degenerative disease. (10)

In February, 1995, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) lodged a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, stating that ads for milk and milk products are deceptive in that they imply that calcium in milk is the answer to the bone loss caused by osteoporosis. PCRM holds that while calcium intake is important during early childhood and does influence bone mass, there are alternative sources, besides animal products, such as fruits, vegetables and grains to achieve our necessary calcium requirements.

According to the research conducted by PCRM, milk consumption later in life actually contributes to calcium loss. Research has demonstrated that people in countries with a lower animal calcium intake (less than 500 mgs/day) have a significantly lower bone fracture rate when compared to countries with the highest intake of animal products, such as the USA (more than 1,200 mgs/day). (11) PCRM urges women to control calcium loss in adulthood by exercise, reducing meat intake, reducing sodium intake and limiting caffeine and tobacco use. (12) Dr. Neal Bamard, M.D., president of PCRM, states that "dairy ads give women a dangerously false sense of security."


  1. McDougall, J., M.D. Diet For a New America, 1992
  2. Welch, J. Anti-Infective Properties of Breast Milk, J. of Pediatrics, 94:1, 1979
  3. Allergy and Cot Death: With Special Focus on Allergic Sensitivity to Cow's Milk Anaphylaxis, Clin & Exp Allergy, 20:359, 1990
  4. Goldman, A.Host Resistance Factors In Human Milk, J. of Pediatrics 82:1082; 1973
  5. Liebman, B. Baby Formulas: Missing Key Fats? Nutrition Action, October, 1990
  6. Ironside, A. A Survey of Infantile Gastroenteritis, British Med J., 3:20,1907
  7. Robbins, J. May They All Be Fed. Chapter 6, 1992
  8. Erasmus Udo, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, 2nd Ed. 1993
  9. Kaplan, S., M.D. Diet for A New America, Chapter 4, 1991
  10. McDougall, J. Ibid
  11. Erasmus, U. Ibid
  12. Barnard, N., M.D., Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Conference, 1995

--by Mark J. Occhipinti, M.S., Exercise Physiologist/Nutritional Consultant and President of American Fitness Professionals and Associates -

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