Milk: Does It Do Your Body Good?

Got milk? On the surface of it, there's nothing healtier than a glass of milk - no preservatives, no artificial colors, no high-fructose corn syrup - just good ol' nutritious milk ... Or is it?

... almost 8,000 years after nomadic herders realized they could tug at the udders of slow-moving livestock, we still aren't sure how much of the stuff we should be drinking. The USDA recommends three cups of dairy a day for all adults, but the science behind milk hasn't been settled. "This is one of the most complicated and interesting areas of nutrition," says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, "and we don't have all of the answers."

Many high-profile nutritionists — often working with large research grants from the dairy industry — say that milk in great quantities is an essential part of the daily diet that can help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. "Anything less than three glasses a day, and you won't get all of the nutrients that you need," says Connie Weaver, head of food and nutrition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Most of Weaver's funding comes from the National Institutes of Health, but she's also supported by the National Dairy Council.

On the other side, groups promoting animal rights and veganism — including PETA and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — say that cow's milk is a nutritional nightmare that doesn't belong in the human diet. "It's gross," says Dr. Neil Barnard, author and founder of the PCRM. "Milk is nutritionally perfect for one purpose: feeding a calf," he says. "The idea that we should be drinking milk from a cow is just bizarre."

Willett, one of the world's most prominent nutrition experts, doesn't belong to either camp. From his viewpoint, one or two cups of milk each day is a safe, reasonable and nutritious goal. "But beyond that," he says, "the benefits are unclear, and there may be some risk."

Chris Woolston did a special report for the Los Angeles Times: Link

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It's obvious that milk has been an important source of nutrients in human history, and I don't think the anti-milk folks are denying that. What they are arguing is that milk isn't the perfect, essential, health-building foodstuff it's made out to be in our culture today, and may in fact be damaging to health. While it is silly to dismiss milk as "unnatural" (while accepting things like bread or coffee or what-have-you), it's also silly to insist that humans *need* to drink cow's milk to be healthy.
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Search ScienceDaily for "milk" sometime.

Longer Life For Milk Drinkers, Study Suggests

Drinking Milk During Pregnancy May Lower Baby's Risk of Multiple Sclerosis

Children Who Often Drink Full-Fat Milk Weigh Less, Swedish Research Finds

Milk: Two Glasses a Day Tones Muscles, Keeps the Fat Away in Women, Study Shows

(And also: Lactose Intolerance Rates May Be Significantly Lower Than Previously Believed)
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People get so damn worked up about dairy... Geez. It's not "natural" to drink milk past adulthood, bla bla. Ever thought of the geographical aspect – WHY certain cultures drink milk? That maybe having to survive winters in very harsh climates played a role? Scandinavia comes to mind. Where they probably fared a lot better by adding fresh milk to their sad winter diet of salted herring and potatoes... Not even freshly caught fish, because the lakes/ocean freeze over.
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Nikki, japanese (especially in the coastal regions) live longer because their diet is based on fresh fish and cereal grains. There are some small villages even here in Italy where the presence of centenarians is relevant. Guess what their diet is like?
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