As far back as we can remember, our parents told us to drink cow’s milk because it will make us grow up big and strong. Who on earth started this rumor? And why on earth do we feed milk to our most precious of beings— our babies?
Simply put, cow’s milk is not fit for human consumption, let alone that of an infant. In the 1950’s, Big Dairy convinced the government that milk was “the perfect food.” (And it’s true. Cow’s milk is the perfect food…for baby cows.) Ever since, the industry has been tirelessly pumping millions and millions of dollars into lobbying and ad campaigns to ensure that milk and other dairy products stay on the list of healthy foods recommended by the Food and Drug Administration.
You see, mother’s milk is designed for two main purposes; to nourish the offspring, and to promote bonding between mother and child. To nourish, mother’s milk provides high levels of nutrition to a newborn in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and calcium. All mammals produce milk, but the make up of the milk for each species varies greatly.
Whole cow’s milk contains too little iron, retinol, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D, unsaturated fats, and essential fatty acids for human babies. In addition, it takes a lot of naturally occurring growth hormones in cow’s milk to turn a 25 pound calf into a whopping 600 pound cow in under a year! These are hormones that were never intended to go into a human child. Whole cow’s milk also contains too much protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorus and chloride which can put a strain on an infant’s immature kidneys. The proteins, fats, and calcium in whole cow’s milk are also more difficult for an infant to digest and absorb than the ones in human breast milk. Just take a look at the digestive system of a cow and compare it to the digestive system of a human, they are completely opposite! Cows have 4 stomachs and 4 feet of intestine, humans have 1 stomach and 27 feet of intestine. The type of food we eat and they way we digest it couldn’t be more different.
The bonding between mother and child during nursing happens with the protein, casein. Casein, like other opiates (morphine and heroin), create a euphoric effect which is highly addictive, so that the child fiends for the mother, addicted to her milk. This addiction promotes bonding, as well as ensures the nourishment of the baby. As the baby grows and thrives, at some point, it becomes necessary for the baby to wean from the breast. Both emotionally and physically. The same way a drug addicted person must wean from the drug. You can think of Big Dairy as a drug dealer pushing milk on babies, children, and adults.
Lactose is the sugar found in milk. As infants, our intestinal villi produce lactase, an enzyme secreted specifically to break down lactose. As baby grows, the production of lactase decreases and the baby begins to naturally deny the breast in favor of solid foods. Once the production of lactase declines, the drinking of milk should also cease; however, the dairy industry has done such a good job of promoting its product that we force our babies to drink milk, and digest it throughout childhood and into adulthood. This forces the body to digest milk, a food it wasn’t meant to digest, and for many this causes great discomfort. Otherwise known as lactose intolerance. The real truth is that we are all lactose intolerant, but force-feeding our babies dairy has caused an artificial tolerance to the stuff.
Bottom line? Human milk is for human babies and cow’s milk is for baby cows.