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Should we all be avoiding dairy?

According to an article in 'thrive', a magazine sent by Norwich Union Healthcare to its customers, dairy is 'in the dock' (Spring 2005 issue). A study links dairy to a range of health complaints. The results come from the UK's largest ever health survey, which questioned 37,000 people. It found that the more milk a person drinks the more problems they encountered with their digestion, immunity, and overall health. The report was written by nutritionist Patrick Holford, who points out that:

  • 70% of people don't have the enzyme required to digest milk
  • milk causes more allergies than any other food and is linked to asthma, ear, sinus and throat infections
  • the higher a nation's milk intake, the higher its incidence of cardiovascular disease

Milk is also strongly linked with breast and prostate cancer - the culprit here appears to be a compound known as Insulin Growth Factor (IGF), which is normally rich in milk, but doubly so because of selective rearing and the routine use of growth hormones. Studies have shown that the higher a woman's IGF levels the higher her risk for breast cancer, and that men with high IGF levels have three times the risk of prostate cancer. Holford's advice is to dump the milk and get your protein, calcium and vitamin D from fish, seeds, nuts, beans and lentils.

For more convincing read:

  • Professor Jane Plant CBE Your Life In Your Hands (Virgin, London 2000) 'one of Britain's most eminent scientists suffered from breast cancer five times, at which point she realised orthodox treatment was not going to work. She then learned of the relationship between diet and cancer'. A whole chapter on the problems with milk. This chapter now entitled 'Milk is a Four-Letter Word', is included with updates from the latest research in her book Prostate Cancer.
  • Professor Jane Plant Prostate Cancer - understand, prevent and overcome (Virgin, London 2004) Packed full of detailed scientifically proved information with hundreds of sources listed. Should refute any critics of the link between dairy produce and breast and prostate cancer.

Is soya safe as a substitute for dairy? Isn't it controversial?

Professor Jane Plant has looked at all the research, with a scientific mind. She is happy to write (in her book Prostate Cancer) 'one of the first and most essential things you can do to reduce your risk of prostate cancer is to substitute soya products for ALL dairy products (whether from cows, sheep, goats or any other animals) in your diet.' Chris Woollams considers this subject in his book The Tree of Life (Health Issues, Buckingham 2003, p145). Woollams is a biochemist. He gives one page on why we should be avoiding dairy, and two pages, under the heading 'Isoflavones' on the controversy about soya. Like Jane Plant, he suggests variety in our diet but that while soya is good as protection against cancer for Asians, perhaps westerners should be re-introducing isoflavones/ phytoestrogens with traditional foods of broad beans, peas, flageolet and lentils, chickpeas, red clover and citrus fruits.

Backing up Woollams caution about soya, we came across www.judycole.co.uk, which explained why there might be such conflicting views on soy consumption. Judy was a nutritionist/kinesiologist and said that the 1% of westerners that could take soy when she tested them all had some Japanese or South American ancestry, cultures which have eaten soya for centuries. She mentions that two top scientists in 1999, working for the FDA in the US, broke rank with their colleagues and wrote an internal protest letter, opposing the FDA's decision to approve a health claim that soy reduced the risk of heart disease. They warned of 28 studies disclosing the toxic effects of soya, revealing their studies had all produced significant and dangerous levels of breast cancer, brain damage and abnormalities in infants. ... These studies were carried out on a western population. The studies that support the widely publicised benefits of taking soy, all result from longitudinal studies on people whose cultures have eaten soy products as a main part of their diets for hundreds of years.

WDDTY (What Doctors Don't Tell You) are equally cautious and their recommendations say "If you must eat soy ... eat it sparingly. The Asians eat soy only as a condiment and rarely more than once a day. Stick to products made by traditional fermentation processes (such as miso, tempeh, natto and tofu). Buy traditional products from reputable companies that use lengthy fermentation processes and only natural whole ingredients. Only use traditional shoyu or tamari, not modern soy sauce which is a refined chemical stew ..."

Oat milk

In view of all this it seems to us that oat milk would be the most suitable substitute in Britain, being a traditional food here. 'Oatly' has no added ingredients (its just water and oats (10%) and seasalt (sodium 0.05%)). For recipes see www.oatly.com . Oatly is - dairy free, cholesterol free - reduces levels of cholesterol in the blood, only 0.7% fat, contains 4g of soluble fibres and can be used in baking, on cereals and in cooking e.g. making sauces and to make ice cream.

Comment on the GAPS diet and dairy.

This diet acknowledges the problem dairy causes, and can be carried out completely dairy free. However, home fermented dairy products are allowed on the GAPS diet to heal the gut, for those who can tolerate them. Both lactose and milk proteins are problems for many people. When milk is properly fermented at home, a large percentage of proteins get predigested, immunoglobulins get broken down and lactose consumed by the fermenting microbes. Fermenting bacteria produce lactic acid, which soothes the gut lining and produces many active enzymes and vitamins (including B vitamins and vitamin K). See the book GAPS by Dr Campbell-McBride. She says commercially available fermented dairy products are not fermented for long enough.

For those concerned about getting enough calcium if they cut dairy out of their diet

Calcium: NB cows get their calcium from eating grass! The calcium in cow's milk is not easily digested by humans, calcium in goats milk is more like the human form. In addition, magnesium is needed to help assimilate calcium - this is not contained in cow's milk but is in 'greens'.

The following is a list of foods containing calcium, giving the calcium content compared to (the same weight of) cow's milk. Cow's milk = 100.

Fish   Greens   Other veg   Nuts  
Mackerel 222 Beet greens 101 Broccoli 108 Almonds 199
Salmon 161 Chard 88 Beans, green snap 31 Brazil nuts 151
Sardines 370 Collard 161 Lima beans 24 Cashews 35
Fruit   Dandelion greens 160 Navy beans 48 Roasted peanuts 63
Dried apricots 57 Endive 68 Kidney beans 24 Sesame seeds 993
Blackberries 27 Kale 101 Brussel sprouts 29 Sunflower seeds 103
Blueberries 34 Kohlrabi 40 Cabbage 39 Walnuts 85
Dried dates 50 Lambs quarters 262 Lettuce, loose leaf 30    
Dried figs 163 Mustard greens 188 Iceberg lettuce 17    
Fresh figs 26 Spinach 106 Onions, raw 111    
Papaya 17 Turnip greens 221 Parsnips 49    
Pineapple 18 Watercress 128 Soybeans 64    
Olives 128 Parsley 171 Turnips 34    
Rhubarb, cooked & sweetened 35 Celery 46        
NB Mineral content depends on soil quality. Calculations made from information taken from a table in Adele Davis Let's Get Well (Uniwin, London 1974) pp362-389. Sources: Agriculture Handbook No. 8 and Home and Garden Bulletin No 72, US Dept. Agric. Washington DC 1963.
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