milk, it does a body good?

did you think that was me in the picture?  it's totally not me.  my boobs are bigger and i would never wear those shoes.  or that sweater.  or, use a handheld shopping basket because i'm lazy.  i'm way cooler than that lady is.  hopefully she's not you.

now that i've cleared up any confusion about the photo, let us talk milk.  it's possible that i'm at war with milk.  it started a while back, i don't know when exactly but there was a point in time when i decided i didn't want to drink milk anymore.  milk was never my favorite to begin with (unless i'm growing humans in my belly) but, i need it.  don't i?

some smart folks will tell you that milk is actually bad for us.  they say that our digestive system is not able to digest cows milk after the age of one.  now, i don't know anything about that but apparently, if we were to look at the world as a whole, only a small percentage of people drink cows milk and most of them are caucasian.  in fact, most people don't drink cows milk because it makes them very sick.  just in case you're interested in reading about this theory, this is an interesting read.

last week when i was running at the gym i was listening to another of jillian's podcasts which happened to be all about milk.  the girl knows her shit, i'm telling you.  she's one smart cookie and she practices what she preaches so when she talks, i listen.  

as i move through this never-ending journey to improve/maintain my health and the health of my family, i learn a lot.  healthy changes are easier to make when you understand why it is you're making them.  baby steps are crucial because time is needed to gather information and soak it all in.  for me, it's a lot all of the time and can be overwhelming so i celebrate all victories no matter how small.  something is, in fact, better than nothing.  this little disclaimer is necessary because it needs to be understood that i understand where i fall short as far as true, complete wellness is concerned (if there's even such a thing).

after i listened to jillian's segment on milk i jotted some notes down.  she touches on many of the varieties; dairy, soy, rice, almond, coconut, organic vs. non organic etc. and basically gives each one a grade. 

most of this is verbatim.  first of all, a large percentage of the population is lactose intolerant which means they have a very bad reaction to dairy (cows milk).  for those who are not, dairy is okay as long as it's organic but organic milk is very expensive so it is not assessable to the masses. 

[i went to costco and noted that i could get four gallons of non-organic skim milk for roughly $8.00 while the 1% organic milk was $8 for 3 half gallons.  if you're not good at math, that's more than double the price of regular milk]. 

when dairy is not organic, she says "this is a pass." basically, stay away from it. why?  because these cows are being treated with hormones that make them produce massive quantities of milk.  normally, an average cow would produce something like 14 gallons of milk per day while these cows pumped full of hormones are producing 100 gallons per day.  as a result, they end up with massive bacterial infections in/on their udders and they're treated with massive quantities of antibiotics. then there's how these cows are fed.  instead of eating grass, like cows do (or should do), they're fed genetically modified corn.  cows can't digest corn so it destroys the lining of their stomachs.  hello more antibiotics! 

grass fed cows have healthier milk with more healthy fats and they won't be full of hormones and antibiotics.  i don't know about you but, i'm a little bit suspicious over how quickly kids start going through puberty these days and i'm not interested in poisoning my children too often.

now.  if one were to say, "we've been drinking non-organic milk forever .... " as if to imply "we" are all doing just great and dandy health wise or, leave good enough alone, let's take a good look around at our ever-growing population and i'm not referring to the number of people on the planet.  clearly, milk as we've been drinking it is not doing our bodies good among many other foods we choose on a regular basis. sickness everywhere.

what we know now is that dairy milk is a go as long as it's organic and as long as it doesn't make you ill. 

she also mentions rice milk and says, "pass" it has zero nutritional value.  almond milk is okay as long as the almonds are non-GMO.  it must be noted that almonds can be GMO and they don't have to label it.  the problem with genetically modified almonds is they're untested and require high quantities of pesticides.  so if you go with almond milk, it must be organic.

then there's soy milk.  jillian hates all things soy.  she's very outspoken about this and her reasons why were enough for me to quit buying my beloved non-GMO, organic soy milk.  she says she "never wants to see it in your fridge." several reason why quickly recapped: soy, unless fermented, is actually toxic to our bodies.  isoflavones in soy attack our thyroid.  soy could potentially be related to breast and ovarian cancer because of estrogen in soy.  when genetically modified (GMO), soy is heavily drenched in pesticides. [her co-anchor asks about why it's advertised as being so good-for-you?] press and propaganda = big business only because it's cheap to produce and it's subsidized by the government.  soy and corn are in everything "trust me, you're getting plenty of soy in your diet." 

last of all is coconut milk.  coconut is all the rage right now because it's considered a "super food."  personally, i've been using coconut oil quite a bit while baking and i really like it.  the milk is only okay. good enough to be used with my cereal or over my fruit and that's all i care about.  here's what jillian has to say (yes, i'm aware that she's on the carton.  she endorses it because she personally chooses coconut milk.  she doesn't endorse anything that she doesn't believe to be worthy.  like subway for instance.  only bob harper walked into those subway's with the biggest loser contestants because jillian won't recommend subway until they remove HFCS from their bread which they have yet to do). 

coconut milk, not the canned kind. lactose intolerant?  not an issue!  non-GMO (they're not genetically modifying coconuts these days) which means it's organic. it tastes good.  less calories per one cup of milk compared to skim milk (90 calories in a cup). coconut milk is antiviral and antimicrobial which helps to support a strong immune system.  it's also loaded with medium chain fatty acids. medium chain fatty acids are actually processed by the body as energy.  the don't lend themselves to being stored as fats.  it's good for you!

[she also touches on the importance of getting enough calcium when not consuming dairy]. it's important that we get our calcium so any substitute for dairy must be fortified with calcium but the body can only process so much calcium at once so you need to get the right amount and it needs to be combined with vitamin d and magnesium for absorption.  coconut milk is fortified with calcium, vitamin-d and magnesium. one serving of coconut milk equals 30% of the recommended daily allowance for calcium.  

[one thing she's heard people say about coconut milk is that it doesn't offer much in regard to protein when compared to dairy.  she responds to this as well.] so it doesn't have a high quantity of protein in it but, that's kind of like saying raspberries or spinach don't have enough protein.  protein is not the purpose of the milk (or the raspberries or spinach). 

when jillian talks about milk, she's very passionate about it.  she's not the only one.  when i started to try and determine where to focus our money as far as organic food is concerned marion nestle says, "milk is a good starter food for organics ... since the side effects of pesticides in kids are likely to be worse than in adults, and kids drink proportionally more milk" (source)

here's the other thing (just when you thought i was off my soap box), not all organic products are created equal.  the cornucopia institute maintains and organic dairy rating scorecard.  

is this as frustrating to you as it is to me?  sheesh.

what i've decided is i'll be buying this organic dairy milk for my family from now on and coconut milk for myself.  i'm uninterested in cows milk but, they like it and i'm not going to ask them to drink coconut milk.  not yet anyway.  .

i feel good about this choice.  moving on.

what kind of milk do you drink and why?


Candice said...

I am a fat-free, flavor free Soy milk girl. I diagnosed myself lactose intolerant back in college and have been using soy milk ever since. But... sometimes I run out and just use Dave's fat free cheapest milk you can buy stuff.

Candice said...

I just can't keep up with all the milk fads... but at the same time, I like Jillian and may want to listen to her.

Laura said...

Jillian is great in a great many ways, and I do think she's right about dairy milk, but she has the science wrong on soy. The link below is to an article by a vegan nutritionist whose goal is making sure vegans stay healthy, so he looks at the science objectively. If the science actually bore out that soy is unhealthy, he'd say so. He was one of the first to go on record urging vegans to take B12 supplements because you just can't get it from a typical plant-based diet. He took a lot of heat from idealistic vegans for saying that even a whole food plant-based vegan diet is not always optimum for health. http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/soy_harm#sum

Anyway. I don't much care for soymilk personally. I don't have a lot of use for "milk"in general, except for baking or over cereal. In those cases, I'm all about the unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

Bryndie said...

Good choice! I love the coconut milk...so good in smoothies or making homemade sorbet. Did you know in other countries there is actually way less bone breaks and osteoporsis and not a one of them drink cows milk...kindof interesting! I take the unsweetened chocolate almond milk and mix it with vanilla coconut milk and a dash of stevia for my kids...they love it!

Amanda said...


Amanda said...

That "g" was a test to see if I'm signed in to avoid having my comment go "poof" after I offer it up.

I agree with you on all things milk. I have waivered on the organic milk thing, mostly because we lived overseas in a country where organic wasn't available and it broke me of the habit. When we got back to the US, my kids were no longer toddlers and I was less persnickety about everything they put in their mouths. However, we have swung back over to organic, and thankfullly it's not been a big financial deal because as a household we don't drink much milk. None for me (I have been almond but am now trying to do coconut for the same reason (Jillian) as Em states) and the boys only eat it on their cereal, in their tea or the occasional glass. One half gallon per week = $5ish so no biggie.

Soy - I have to agree with Jillian that it should be avoided as much as possible, although it is really isidious and in everything. She clearly makes the exception that tofu (fermented soy), edamame, tempeh and Misoh are OK. This is because she is referring to natural soy eaten as nature intended it (any GMO versions of these products are NOT ok). This is what Japanese people eat and it's why they are healthy. They aren't eating what JM is saying to avoid, which is genetically modified soy. This is 100% bad and should be avoided at all costs.

I don't think people always realize what GMO food is. It is not "hybrid" food. It is fake food. It is food that scientists have created in a laboratory that is part food and part petri dish - it is frankenfood. I am one of those people who doesn't always know and I resent that.

Here is a good segment on Dr. Oz tackling the GMO topic. Surprisingly controversial for Dr. Oz since he usually takes a feel good tact.

Did you know that most European countries don't even allow GMO food to be made there (though they can be imported)?

Did you know that companies are NOT legally required to label food as "GMO" which means the consumer (that means you and me) has no idea if it is/isn't GMO (and according to Dr. Oz, 80% of packaged food is a GMO source).

Here's part 1 of the Oz/GMO video: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/genetically-modified-foods-pt-1

In saying all of that I wish I could say that I avoid soy 100%, but it is in my ceral (Kashi) and some of my energy bars. The telltale sign that your food has GMO soy is when it magically has tons of protein in it while not being your typical protein source (Kashi is dry cereal and yet boasts having as much protein as an egg, for example). Read the ingredients and you will find Soy Lecithin Soy in tons (most?) of your pantry foods (it's extracted from soybeans either mechanically or chemically and it's used as a cheap emulsifying agent by food manufacturers).

Anywayz, sorry to hijack your milk thread. I'm totally with you on your soapbox.

But I wish coconut milk didn't taste so coconutty. bleh. :)

Becky said...

Jillian's milk podcast was my very first Jillian podcast and I'm hooked now. I'm with you that she knows her shit. I don't love coconut milk, but I don't hate it. I don't drink any milk by the glassful, so just eating it on my cereal is ok. It reminds me of when I started eating greek yogurt. I didn't love it, but I knew I could get used to it.

Great post Em. I admire you greatly.

Healthy Mamma said...

Great post! I've always known/heard about how milk really isn't that great for you which if you truly think about it makes perfect sense. Cow's milk=icky IMO.
I've never liked it or drank it but have bought it anyway for my 4 little cereal-aholics. Lately I've made some changes like buying Kefir (which usually isn't mentioned as a milk 'alternative' but is great!) and limiting our milk consumption so we can afford Organic. I'm not a big fan of Soy (anymore) because of the controversial health risks.

It is so hard to keep up with all of the ever changing health info but think that common sense, a little effort and give a shit and a little research can keep you informed.

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