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Problems with Low-Fat Commercial Milk
By John McDougall, MD

People are seeking better health through better nutrition, and fat has become enemy number one for the health conscious public. Fat in the diet damages arteries leading to heart disease, promotes cancer, contributes to gallbladder disease and is the fundamental cause of obesity. "Once the  fat is removed, the food is now healthy," most people believe.

Fat, however, is only one potentially troublesome component of the food. Other nutrients and non-nutrients in the food also have a critical impact upon your health. In the case of dairy products, removing the fat may actually increase risks from other parts of the food--the choice becomes one of "being shot or hung."

Components of Food:

    Dietary Fiber

When the fat is removed from the milk the relative amounts of proteins and carbohydrates are increased.

 Low-Fat Means More Protein and Lactose

Type of Milk Whole Low-fat Skim
Fat 49% 31% 2%
Protein 21% 28% 41%
CHO* 30% 41% 57%

*CHO = Carbohydrate = Lactose

The low-fat product is still deficient in iron, dietary fiber, essential fat (linoleic acid), and vitamin C and B3 (niacin). Much of the cholesterol and chemical contamination found with the fat is removed in the skimming process. But, the infection potential from bacteria and viruses is still as great with the low-fat product. Consider some ways low-fat dairy products can contribute to your health problems:

Allergy: Of all  commonly consumed foods, cow's milk protein, found in dairy products (from acidophilus milk to whey) is the leading cause of food allergy in adults and children. Common manifestations of this allergy include runny nose,  fluid collections in the middle ear, post nasal drip, hoarseness, asthma, eczema, and bed wetting (Bahna S. Allergies to Milk, New York: Grune and Stratton, 1980).

Anemia: Milk is the leading cause of iron deficiency anemia in young children (Oski F. Pediatrics 75(suppl):182, 1985). This is the primary reason the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended cow's milk not be given to children under a year of age (what miraculous change suddenly makes it safe after a child's first birthday?). Milk is deficient in iron. The phosphorous and calcium in milk form complexes with iron found in other foods (beans, meat) and prevent its absorption. Cow's milk causes bleeding in the intestine leading to iron loss. Evidence leads me to believe dairy products cause most of the iron deficiency seen in adults (including women of reproductive age).

Arthritis: By  allergic (immune system) reactions dairy proteins cause rheumatoid arthritis in many people (Welsh C. Int. Arch Allergy Appl. Immunol 80:192, 1986; Ratner D. Israel J Med Sci 21:532, 1985; Park A. Br Med J 282:2027,  1981; Panush Arthritis Rheum 29:220, 1986). Other forms of inflammatory arthritis as mild as the daily aches, pains, and stiffness troubling millions of people, and as serious as Lupus are caused and aggravated by dairy proteins.

Atherosclerosis: High levels of antibodies to milk proteins are often found in severe atherosclerosis (commonly known as hardening of the arteries leading to strokes and heart attacks) (Annand J Atherosclerosis 59:347, 1986; Muscari A Ann Ital Med Int 7:7, 1992). Milk protein entering the blood stream is perceived by the body as a foreign substance. The immune system reacts by making antibodies. These  antibodies to milk protein may mistakenly attack the arteries themselves initiating the early injury phase of atherosclerosis. They may also attack and destroy enzyme systems that remove cholesterol from the body.

It is not just the cholesterol and fat in dairy products that damage the arteries, dairy proteins are also involved. Therefore, people looking to prevent heart attacks should avoid the low-fat dairy products, too.

Bleeding (Intestinal): Blood is found in the stool of one-quarter to one-half of infants fed cow's milk. The more milk, the more bleeding. Sometimes the blood loss can be microscopic; other times the blood is easily seen and can be an immediate concern (Editorial Lancet 1:1159, 1984).

Constipation: Dairy products are entirely free of dietary fiber and as a result contribute to constipation and related diseases like varicose  veins, hemorrhoids, and hiatus hernia (from straining to pass the stool). In my experience I have seen people with a history of constipation follow my diet strictly except for the skim milk on their cereal and the bowels remained irregular--there must be a sensitivity of the bowel in some people to the milk protein.

Diabetes (Childhood, type I): Cow's milk proteins can trigger diabetes in experimental animals. Worldwide,  the incidence of childhood diabetes is tied directly and strongly with the amount of dairy products consumed by people in various countries (Dahl-Jorgensen K. Diabetes Care 14:1081, 1991). Exclusive breast feeding, which delays exposure to cow's milk infant formula, reduces the risk of diabetes in children.

Exposure to cow's milk protein early in life, when the intestinal tract is immature, allows the milk protein to enter the blood stream where antibodies to this foreign substance, milk, form. Unfortunately, these same antibodies also attack the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. Glassful of milk after spoonful of ice cream over a period of about 5 to 7 years, the child destroys his or her pancreas--left with a lifelong, life threatening, handicap: diabetes. A study of 155 children with diabetes found high levels of antibodies to milk protein in all of the children with this disease. (Karjalainen J. N Engl J Med 327:302, 1992)

Infections: Dairy products are oftentimes infected with E. coli, salmonella, staphylococci, or tuberculosis. Too often pasteurization fails to rid the food of these microbes, and they cause serious disease in humans.

Our dairy herds are infected with bovine immunodeficiency viruses (BIV) and bovine leukemia viruses (BLV). In the United States results show an average 40% of beef herds and 64% of dairy herds are infected with BIV. Herds infected with the BIV are usually infected with the leukemia virus also (AIDS 6:759, 1992). Both viruses cross species lines  infecting other animals. Nationwide and worldwide leukemia is more common in the higher dairy consuming populations. The first case of BIV infection in humans was recently reported (Jacobs R. Can J Vet Res 56:353,  1992).

Lactose Intolerance: After the age of 4 most people stop synthesizing the enzyme (lactase) that breaks down milk sugar (lactose) for digestion. Undigested milk sugar in the large intestine results in diarrhea, gas, and stomach cramps. This condition known as "lactose intolerance" affects 60 to 90% of non-white people, and about 20% of whites.

Osteoporosis: Animal protein in the diet causes the body to lose calcium through the kidneys and in this way the bones are weakened. In an experiment paid for by the dairy industry, post menopausal women fed an extra 3 eight-ounce glasses of skim milk daily consumed nearly 1500 mg of calcium daily; yet they were still in negative calcium balance at the end of a year (They lost more calcium in their urine than they absorbed from their gut). The women supplemented with extra skim milk lost more bone at the end of a year than those who did not drink the extra milk (Recker R. Am J Clin Nutr 41:254, 1985). According to the authors," The protein content of the supplement (the skim milk) may have a negative effect  on calcium balance, possibly through an increase in kidney losses of calcium or through a direct effect on bone resorption." Those concerned about osteoporosis are compounding their problems with the low-fat, high-animal-protein varieties of dairy products.

Tonsil and other lymph node enlargement: The body attempts to defend itself from invading bacteria and viruses which are largely made of foreign proteins. The proteins in forkfuls of cheese and glasses of milk are also recognized as foreign and worthy of a strong defense. The tonsils and adenoids enlarge around the throat and try to fight off the invading milk proteins, and as a result enlarge and become inflammed. Stopping the dairy protein shrinks this swollen lymph node tissue (Boat T. J Pediatr 87:23, 1975). There is evidence that constant attack of the body by cow's proteins from foods may  eventually wear the immune system down to a cancerous condition known as lymphoma (Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's) (Cunningham A Lancet 2:1184, 1976).

A HEALTH HAZARD: Regardless of the fat content, dairy products are a serious health hazard; probably causing more harm than meat because most people believe they are "health foods" and eat them without the slightest precaution.

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