Ever since those innocent days of our youth, we were thrown into the mix and told that drinking milk daily would make us into healthy, strong adults. We’ve all see the ads on television and in the magazines saying that milk provides all the calcium we need, along with vitamin D and other minerals. If you don’t want to grow up into an old, weak-boned person later in life, drink milk, right? Is milk actually doing the body good, like we’ve always been told?
Lately, researchers and other experts have thought this statement about milk is not all that true. Sure milk does contain some of these benefits, but with the evolution in the milk industry, there could be some major health issues that arise. Maybe we should start thinking twice about downing the suggested three glasses a day. Who knows the truth about milk, but we could definitely see a large change since the milk production of our elders.
New production methods are the top of this debate of milk health. You wonder, how much change can come from milking a cow and consuming the delicious drink it produces? Naturally, milk normally contains water, lactose, fat, protein, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. The amount of all of these features are dependent upon what the cow feeds on, the process of lactation, and how the milk is processed. Since we live in an age of mass production, milk has taken on new forms, along with many new questions.
The New Milk’s in Town…
The most obvious way we can distinguish milk is if it is pasteurized or not. Simply put, pasteurization is the process of heating the milk to temperatures of 145-150 and then quickly returning it to a cold state. The point of this is to rid all of the harmful bacteria that could be within. By doing this, we could be losing out on many of the natural ingredients that milk has to offer. After this process, milk is completely sterile and develops into a very different taste. Many believe that pasteurization is required by law in milk production, but that is untrue. The “raw milks” and unpasteurized labels can be found in many grocery stores. Many people actually prefer the taste and possible health benefits of unpasteurized milks.
Another huge difference in today’s milk production is the use of injected growth hormones. The introduction and use of these techniques steam from keeping up with the demand of milk in our society. Since the amount of milking farms has drastically declined since the 1950s, the U.S. dairy industry has opted to use hormones, such as the rBGH, to make the milking process quicker and more efficient. rBGH stands for recombinant bovine growth hormone and is actually naturally found in cow’s pituitary glands. These injections stimulate the cow to produce milk at a much quicker rate than normal. However, the U.S. is the only country that has yet to approve of such growth injections. The FDA has said that there are no human health problems associated with them and are deemed “safe for human consumption” back in 1993. There have been critics that say these hormones could lead to cancers because of the heightened insulin the hormones produce. Maybe the FDA, or someone else should look into this topic to stay with the times.
The raised popularity of the organic industry has also rolled over into the milking industry. If you roam the milk section of your local natural foods store, you’ll notice a variety of brands that are organic, which do not use any of these growth hormones. Many have even stated that they do no use rBGHs in their milk, which can be a large deciding factor for a customer. The rBGH using milk companies have not been too pleased with this labeling because they believe it imposes that rBGH poses health-risks.
As time goes on, so will this debate. My suggestion is to do your own research if you are a milk drinker. There are so many factors that go into these health controversies. If you find some new information, please comment and share it with all of us!