World Milk Day 2020
World Milk Day - 1st June 2020. Monday 1st June is World Milk Day 2020. Established 20 years ago, World Milk Day recognises and celebrates the importance of milk as a global food, actively promoting the benefits of milk and dairy products around the world, including how dairy supports the livelihoods of one billion people.
My book The Real Food Solution dedicates a whole chapter to the rise and fall of milk. Once upon a time, milk was a valued ‘medicine’ used by doctors to restore health. School milk was free. And milk was prized by bodybuilders!
Hippocrates recommended milk and its products as “wonderful food and the best medicine.” Milk shaped the cultures that founded Western civilisation: no civilisation has ever arisen without the domestication of animals and the use of their milk.
Milk is the only organic substance purposely designed and prepared by Mother Nature as food and early humans made good use of this gift.
Fast forward to the present day and milk is vilified as a food not-fit-for-human consumption. Dairy intolerance appears to be rife with more and more people blaming their poor health (eczema, asthma, allergies) on dairy. And milk ‘substitutes’ - from soya, almonds, coconuts and oats - take pride of place on the supermarket shelf!
One day, my daughter Tybee came to me, and she said,
‘I have so much love for you in my body, Daddy, I can’t stop giving you hugs and kisses.
And when I have no more love left, I just drink milk, because that’s where love comes from.
- Bruce Feiler
5 reasons to drink milk
- Milk is a whole FOOD. Indeed, milk is one of the only substances that Mother Nature has designed to be a nutritionally complete food. Clearly, cows’ milk is a primary food for calves; but we humans have been benefitting from consuming milk (give or take) for some 8,000 years.
- Milk is immensely nutrient-dense. Although milk wasn’t directly intended for our consumption, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less nutritious or important for us. And even though we aren’t ruminant animals, the overwhelming majority of us can digest milk (more on this below)
- Dairy is a true nutritional powerhouse. No other single food gives you protein, carbohydrates, fat and - if it's unpasteurised - a powerful dose of healthful and important probiotic bacteria (more on this below). And... it requires NO cooking. Ron Schmid writes in the ‘The Untold Story of Milk’ of a man who, unable to eat solid food, lived in good health on raw milk alone for more than 40 years!
- Milk contains very high-quality protein and all 8 essential amino acids in perfect balance, so is non-inflammatory. This supports the whole body and particularly our liver, which needs a consistent supply of protein to detoxify other substances to which we’re exposed. Forget the green ‘detox’ juices – drink good quality - particularly raw - milk and real milkshakes!
- Dairy is high in calcium, a critical mineral for bone and tooth health and energy production. Dairy is also significantly 'anti-stress' -under stress, our body releases a hormone (parathyroid hormone - PTH) which acts to remove calcium from our blood and put it into circulation - where, unless it's tightly controlled, it can end up damaging our joints and soft tissues (for example in kidneys, as stones and in arteries, promoting cardiovascular disease). Dairy suppresses the release of PTH.
But what if we can't digest milk?
Milk contains the milk sugar lactose and all young mammals produce the enzyme lactase to digest it efficiently. It is often argued that humans lose the ability to produce lactase after toddlerhood, when we transition from milk to solid foods and that this is a sign that we should avoid milk as adults.
However, not all adults lose the ability to produce lactase. For example, groups in Northern Europe, the Middle East and some parts of Africa technically have the genetic markers for lactase-persistence.
Moreover, there are large numbers of people around the world who don’t have the gene for ‘lactase persistence’ (an ability to produce lactase and so tolerate lactose) in the first place... yet they are not, noticeably at least, lactose intolerant.
So, in the absence of sufficient lactase, it’s currently hypothesised that our gut bacteria are digesting the lactose for us. Bottom line: a lot of ‘lactose intolerant’ people can still drink milk!
Where people have travelled, the ox and the milk cow have followed. Rome was built on ground blessed by libations of milk.
In America, the arrival of a shipload of cows saved the Jamestown colony from starvation. Cows went west with the settler, hitched behind wagons pulled by their brothers the oxen, feeding families and calves alike.
- Ron Schmid, The Untold Story of Milk
Is ALL 'milk' actually milk?
All of the above said, there is an important caveat. Almost all the 'milk' we get here in the UK is pre-cooked. Yes, that’s right, we call it pasteurisation but we effectively cook the milk for 25 seconds at 72 ̊C to kill off bacteria.
This is a process which originated when we didn’t have the technology to transport milk without it spoiling (pasteurised milk has a longer shelf life) and it also covered up poor dairy practices (horrendously poor conditions, completely unsuitable feed, sickened and unhealthy cows... it goes on).
So pasteurisation, it was argued, was a necessary process to protect public health. Unfortunately, while the pasteurisation process destroys pathogens in the milk it also destroys some delicate components of the milk – among which is the lactase the very enzyme which enables us to digest the milk sugar lactose! So, could pasteurising the milk prevent us benefitting from this ready-made enzyme, rendering the milk indigestible? You bet! Could this be the reason why lactose intolerance is spreading? I say: ‘Yes!'
Recent research from the Netherlands by Abbring et at (2019) demonstrated that processing milk induces hypersensitivity:
Raw (unprocessed) cow’s milk and native whey proteins have a lower allergenicity than their processed counterparts. The preclinical evidence in combination with the human proof‐of‐concept… pilot provides evidence that milk processing negatively influences the allergenicity of milk.
Sally Fallon (The Weston A Price Foundation) concludes:
Avoid industrially processed proteins and powdered foods—especially anything that contains powdered milk or whey proteins—and stick to traditional methods of food preparation and processing.
Since all industrial processing methods damage milk proteins, the correct conclusion is that milk, Nature’s perfect food, should not be industrially processed at all—just consumed raw or made into cream, butter, or fermented milk products.
Milk allergy or intolerance?
These days, we hear a lot about allergies and intolerances. It’s important to clearly differentiate between the two. With an allergy, the body makes an antibody in response to a specific food; when the food is next consumed, it triggers the release of histamine and other substances - with immediate and potentially life-threatening effects. But true allergies are very rare – if you have an allergy, you’ll most likely already know about it.
Children with a so-called cow’s milk 'allergy' often outgrow it by age 5, so true milk allergy in older children and adults is very uncommon.
On the other hand, an intolerance is more common and its onset is usually much slower, accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, digestive issues, joint pains, rashes and eczema. Food intolerances are often linked to (and can underlie) a wide range of chronic health conditions and are often associated with consuming milk... but we must remember that most milk we consume is pasteurised milk.
Raw milk is real milk
Certainly, many people who now seek out and drink raw milk have found it to be completely digestible... another clue that pasteurisation is the important factor underlying lots of milk-related digestive issues?
Raw milk is unprocessed - it comes straight from the cow - so retains its full, nutrient-dense complement of vitamins, minerals, beneficial bacteria and live enzymes. However, since the milk processing industry can't '£££add value' to this natural, healthful product, it has summoned its huge lobbying power to persuade us that all milk should be pasteurised to protect public health.
In the USA selling or consuming raw milk is actually illegal. In Scotland, the sale of raw milk is also illegal; however in the rest of the UK (at the time of writing) raw milk it can be sold directly to the public at the farm gate, or via the internet for home delivery, but only by closely monitored certified raw milk farms.
In my personal opinion (and an exponentially growing number of like-minded consumers), that the commercial milk available in supermarkets, food stores and petrol stations is a bland, highly-processed white liquid product bearing little resemblance to the delicious healthful, nutritious and healing food our grandparents enjoyed.
Few of us are aware that raw milk from grass-fed cows was used as a medicine to treat (and often cure) a variety of serious chronic diseases: from the time of Hippocrates until just after World War II, this 'white blood' nourished and healed countless millions.
Raw milk is a living food, rich in beneficial probiotic bacteria, food enzymes, natural vitamins and heat-sensitive immunoglobins (antibodies). The minerals (like calcium) are more bio-available in unheated raw milk and the beneficial, probiotic bacteria are critical to own beneficial gut microbes that support our health.
If you are interested in trying out raw milk, you can find local suppliers (UK) here: http://rawmilk.simkin.co.uk. I haven't had a client yet who, having tried raw milk, hasn't enjoyed, transitioned and benefited from it.
Raw milk – is it safe?
The Weston A Price Foundation champion raw milk as a healthy food – in this comprehensive interview, Mark McAfee the Chairman of the Raw Milk Institute, and the head of Organic Pastures Dairy in the USA explains:
For those still concerned about drinking certified raw milk, my recommendation is to home-pasteurise in your kitchen! It's a quick, simple, much gentler and far less nutritionally destructive process than that used by industrial milk processors.
Great ways to enjoy your milk on World Milk Day:
- Straight up and warm with added honey/sugar (if you like)
- Fresh fruit milkshakes or smoothies (juice or blend fruit and add to milk). If you haven’t tried an OJ milkshake (half and half) you haven’t lived!
- Latte/Café con leché/Galão (a.k.a. milky coffee!) Try my Anytime Maple Latte
- Hot Cocoa (organic cocoa powder, sugar, gelatine [collagen hydrolysate], milk)
- Hot Mocha (as above, with half coffee)
- Coffee or chocolate milkshakes (cocoa powder or cooled strong coffee, milk, honey/sugar)
- Make yoghurt - Natural Jersey Milk Yoghurt with Raw Honey Drizzle
- Make ice cream – VANILLA ice cream! COFFEE ice cream! ORANGE ice cream! ANY ice cream...
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