Think milk does a young body good? Think again. Mother cows produce milk for one reason—to feed their own babies. Giving the milk of another animal to human youngsters is unnatural and unhealthy. For one thing, cow’s milk contains proteins that may cause or aggravate a variety of conditions in infants, toddlers, and older children. Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics found that “infants fed whole cow’s milk receive inadequate amounts of [v]itamin E, iron, essential fatty acids, and excessive amounts of protein, potassium, and sodium.”
Including cow’s milk in your infant’s diet can give him or her an upset stomach and diarrhea. Switching from formulas that are based on cow’s milk to soy-based formulas often eliminates the discomfort. Even breast-fed babies may develop digestive problems if their mothers consume dairy products. A study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that the proteins in cow’s milk are transferred to babies through their mothers’ breast milk.
Obesity and Other Disorders
Stomachaches are only the beginning of the problems that your kids may face if you give them dairy products. Studies suggest that milk consumption may contribute to asthma, constipation, recurrent ear infections, iron deficiency, anemia, and even cancer.
Consuming dairy products can also make kids overweight. There is a reason why dairy products are so fattening—they’re packed with fat and calories. In fact, calves can gain almost 500 pounds by the time they are weaned from their mothers. The calories from the fat and sugar in cow’s milk will add to your child’s waistline and detract from his or her health.
On the other hand, many plant foods contain calcium but don’t have all the cholesterol or come with the adverse health effects that are associated with dairy products. Plus, despite what the powerful dairy industry lobby might claim, independent scientists have found that the calcium in plant-based sources is more easily absorbed by human bodies than is the calcium in cow’s milk.
In fact, drinking milk may actually weaken our bones! Ironically, American women have one of the highest rates of dairy consumption in the world, yet they also suffer from the highest rates of osteoporosis.
A study funded by the National Dairy Council found that women who drank three glasses of milk a day for two years actually lost bone mass at twice the rate of women who did not drink milk. Furthermore, the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study confirmed that women who received the majority of their calcium from dairy foods also suffered more broken bones than women who did not drink milk. Research has clearly shown that children should avoid milk and should fill up on calcium-rich plant foods to build strong bones.
Numerous studies have also shown a link between milk consumption and the development of various types of cancer. For example, a major study of nearly 5,000 children found that a high intake of dairy products was associated with nearly triple the colon cancer rate of children with a low intake of dairy products.
The consumption of cow’s milk has also been implicated in the development of diabetes. In fact, more than 90 studies have been devoted to the link between the protein in dairy products and the development of insulin-dependent diabetes.
Scientists suspect that infants’ immune systems produce antibodies that attack the protein in cow’s milk because it is foreign to the human body. Frighteningly, these antibodies also attack the human pancreas. The damaged pancreas no longer produces insulin; this means that children who have this condition will be required to receive daily shots of insulin.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that while milk may trigger diabetes in babies, fruits and vegetables actually lower our risk of developing this disease.
Healthy Kids Are Dairy-Free
It’s never too early to encourage healthy eating habits. In his landmark book Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, the late Dr. Benjamin Spock, America’s most respected pediatrician, recommended that parents raise their children on a vegan diet. “We now know that there are harmful effects of a meaty diet,” wrote Spock. “Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have a tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer. … I no longer recommend dairy products. … [T]here was a time when cow’s milk was considered very desirable. But research, along with clinical experience, has forced doctors and nutritionists to rethink this recommendation.” Doctors and concerned parents agree: Consuming dairy products is unnatural, and it can make children sick.