Dear Dr. K: My chiropractor told me too much milk might actually weaken my bones. I’ve always heard milk is good for teeth and bones. Could he be right?
Actually, he is right. The whole cow milk and health issue has a convoluted history. It dates back to the Great Depression when many Americans were starving and rickets was common. The Federal government stepped in and subsidized the dairy farmers so that milk could be both available and cheap. It also mandated the addition of vitamin D to the milk.
The inexpensive milk allowed Americans to have a ready source of calories, protein and vitamin D which was a true Godsend.
In today’s world, most Americans are not starving and so what was of help in one context has gradually become too much of a good thing.
It’s true that cow milk is a rich source of calcium, but it also contains certain peptides and lectins that actually bind to and remove our existing calcium. If milk intake is high it actually leads to a net reduction in total body calcium.
Last year the British Medical Journal published a 20-year study of 100,000 people. They found a significantly higher risk of fractures in people who drank three or more glasses of milk a day, compared to those whose intake was less.
Studies on Asian-Americans and African-Americans show that their bone density was not as good on the cow-milk rich American diet as their ethnic counterparts living in Asia/Africa, and not consuming so much cow milk.
Cow milk is also the most common cause of food allergy. Also, even in people who are not allergic to milk, it tends to increase nasal and bronchial mucus production.
Finally, cow milk contains D-galactose which induces inflammation in the body. D-galactose has been shown to worsen some forms of arthritis, and to contribute to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
So, the old, familiar maxim probably applies here: “Everything in moderation.”