The Event That Mooved Me
There I was, 20 years ago, checking out a small bookshelf at the whole food store...when I noticed two books, side by side, both about milk.
One read, "Milk: the Perfect Food", the other, "Milk Is For Calves, Not Humans".
I must admit, I don't recall the exact titles, but it was something like that.
I learned that day that nutrition is still very much an evolving science.
The years passed and I continued to read and learn and experiment with various diets (I have done 4, for health reasons, not weight loss), went to nutrition school, and continued observing other people - the healthiest people I knew, and the unhealthiest - and what they eat.
And then recently I noticed the new Canada Food Guide came out. And I noticed that milk products have been totally nixed.
So what's the truth? So DOES milk REALLY "Do A Body Good?" Or is "Milk Only For Calves"? Is milk just great for making milk moustaches, or is milk a truly nourishing food?
And what about calcium? If you don't drink milk, will your bones crumble and will you turn into a big mushy pile of cartilage and muscle, or will you just go on living without milk moustaches?
And can a human being even live without pizza??
The (Milky, Frothy) Truth
In my educated yet humble opinion, whether milk is good for you or not, depends a lot on you. Some of the healthiest people I know drink milk. But they do get it organic, and they don't usually get it skim, because they don't fear fat. How MUCH they drink, I can't say exactly, but again the best amount is probably individual to you anyway. Many things are healthy in one amount, and not so healthy in another.
What I can say for sure is that I have seen many older, apparently healthy people, who drink milk.
And I have seen many who don't.
So personally, what I think is this:
The Canadian Government should not have nixed milk from the food Guide. If you digest milk well (certain blood types or genotypes maybe), then in my opinion, milk CAN do a body good.
That said, many people DON'T digest milk well, and they would be better off without it, but... they are kind of addicted to it. Its creamy, its sweet, and it's tasty.
I have one main piece of advice if you do drink milk: buy it organic.
I also hear that unpasteurized milk is the healthiest option, but unpasteurized from a grass fed, "happy" cow, not the GMO-corn-and-soy-fed-cows that our conventional industrial food system raises in those Auschwitz-like factory farms.
But to get that you may have to go direct to a farm, because, at least in Can and the US, the milk at the grocery store has been pasteurized by law. This is obviously to protect us from bad bacteria, but this also greatly reduces any good probiotic population that was in the milk the way nature made it - before we cooked it. Pasteurizing is cooking it.
Personally, I don't do milk at all because it doesn't seem to agree with me. Maybe it's the lactose, maybe its the proteins, I'm not sure but I definitely get bloated and mucusy on dairy products. I do however eat some cheese, because I think cheesy nachos are still one of the better mouthgasms in life. But I probably shouldn't do dairy at all.
But What About Calcium?
What I have heard in this area (and you are welcome to dig up studies if you want to verify this, but personally I prefer to let common sense guide me on this one), is that milk isn't the best source of absorbable calcium anyway.
In fact, milk creates mucus and bloating and gas and inflammation in many people - not just those who are lactose intolerant, and those are not good conditions for mineral absorption... or health of any kind.
And further, those countries that drink the most milk actually have the highest rates of osteoporosis. But is that correlation or causation?
I don't know, but I hear that asian countries have very little osteoporosis (brittle bones), and they drink almost no dairy milk.
So where are they getting their calcium from, then?
My understanding is asian countries eat a lot of leafy greens, and in fact, leafy greens are much more absorbable sources of calcium and minerals for many of us.
"Milks"? Did I Say "Milks"?
Yup I said milks. Because I am including nut milks in my definition.
Nut mylk is always hard to make, because finding the nipple on an almond....can be rough. To say nothing of finding the nipple on a hemp seed... I'm kidding :-).
But seriously, I make my own home-made nut mylk, usually hemp mylk, and it's EASY. I just pop some hemp seeds (shelled ones) into my blender, add water, and blend! Voila, nutritious, tasty hemp milk! Then I add cacao if I want it chocolate flavour, plus a few drops of stevia to sweeten.
But what about almond milk?
Almond milk is great too! However, I do recommend making it yourself. The store bought stuff has sooo many highly processed ingredients - when I do home-made almond mylk, it feels sooo much cleaner and smoother to me.
I have been told that the almond mylk at the store is a highly processed food, and shouldn't be consumed in huge amounts, and I believe it. Actually, it depends again on you - but many people do find that it doesn't fully agree with them - the processed store bought version with its calcium carbonate and guar and xanthan gums is feels and tastes very different then home made clean and simple almond milk made from just almonds.