Thursday, July 19, 2012

Milk dud

Here is an article that caught my eye titled “5 ways milk doesn’t do a body good. It’s a The Week story apparently based on an opinion piece in the New York Times.

The gist is that there are reasons why humans should not drink milk, or at the very least, the downsides to such consumption. But the reasoning is a bit flawed; to say the least. I take down the five (really four and one half) arguments below. “Checks” indicate my support with the argument. “Milk dud” indicates I think the argument falls short.

First description of problem: I’m guessing they put it up top is because it’s the best. Anyway, the article notes milk is high in calories and saturated fat. The article notes that milk has the same calorie load as soda on an ounce for ounce basis. Also: Sugar. Egad! And the story notes milk consumption is linked to type 1 diabetes and that milk contains as much saturated fat as French fries.

My thoughts: Since when did calorie load become the absolute measuring stick for food health? Just about everything seems inflated when compare to carrots or kale, so should we only be eating those things? (yes, I realize comparing something to unhealthy soda is a bit different than comparing it to healthy kale). And I thought we had largely given up the saturated fat fear, but I’ll go along.

Fat, half check; diabetes risk, check; calories, half check.

Second description: A lot of people can’t drink it. Like, 50 million people and 90 percent of Asian-Americans and 75 percent of African-Americans!

My thoughts: Um, Ok. A lot of people can’t run a 4-minute mile or do a triatholon either. My son Liam and many others can’t handle penicillin-based antibiotics (that’s 20% of this family!). This argument is so irrelevant that I’m not sure what to say.

Lots of people can’t drink it! Bad argument. Milk dud.

Third description: Milk is often full of chemicals. The article notes additives have been blamed for skin conditions, acne (aren’t they the same?) and inflammation. Its source appears to be Blisstree’s Deborah Dunham, who notes that we are the only species to drink milk from another species.

My thoughts: Let’s ignoring the boogieman of “chemicals” and the fact that “chemical” doesn’t equate with bad or harmful. “Natural” products can sometimes be more harmful than “chemical” ones. Even then, lots of products are full of chemicals. Tea has photochemicals like HGCG that are very good for you. Merely saying “chemical” isn’t going to win me over. Secondly, we are also the only species with a legal system, or cars, or clothing made from the hides of other species, but I doubt you would use that argument for those items. And besides, I think the cross-species milk drinking probably has a lot to do with the fact that in nature, species tend to be hostile to one another.

Chemicals! I hate doing this based on the unreasonable fear, but half-check for at least listing potential problems, even if they are shadily sourced.

Fourth description: Many people are allergic (hey, didn’t we see something like this already?). Milk follows only peanuts as a food allergen.

My thoughts: Allergies! This is literally the end of the argument. So, are we to abandon peanuts? And once we’ve abandoned peanuts and milk, are we then going to abandon the new #1 and #2 allergens? Something has to be #1 on the list. Not going to cut it. Milk dud.

Fifth description: You don’t need milk for strong bones. Exercise and Vitamin D contribute to strong bones.

My thoughts: Yeah, but just about every food has an alternate supplier of the nutrients its supplies. Life isn’t about optimizing nutrient delivery; at least mine isn’t. Absolutely deplorable. Milk dud

The article ends on an odd note by quoting someone at Lifehacker regarding the health benefits of milk, but then says you should drink milk because you enjoy it and not for its health claims. Um, what? This despite the fact that the opening paragraph of the story noted that milk is “packed with nutrients” and helps kids grow taller.

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