This has been taken from the website called Not Milk. I have broken the letter up as it’s quite long and very rich in terms of what we need to know. Small doses may help in terms of taking it in. Thus I’m going to produce a series of posts based on this letter. Watch this space 🙂
What is milk?
Milk is a maternal lactating secretion, a short term nutrient for new-borns. Nothing more, nothing less.
Invariably, the mother of any mammal will provide her milk for a short period of time immediately after birth. When the time comes for ‘weaning’, the young offspring is introduced to the proper food for that species of mammal. A familiar example is that of a puppy. The mother nurses the pup for just a few weeks and then rejects the young animal and teaches it to eat solid food. Nursing is provided by nature only for the very youngest of mammals. Of course, it is not possible for animals living in a natural state to continue with the drinking of milk after weaning.
Is all milk the same?
Then there is the matter of where we get our milk. We have settled on the cow because of its docile nature, its size, and its abundant milk supply. Somehow this choice seems ‘normal’ and blessed by nature, our culture, and our customs. But is it natural? Is it wise to drink the milk of another species of mammal?
Consider for a moment, if it was possible, to drink the milk of a mammal other than a cow, let’s say a rat. Or perhaps the milk of a dog would be more to your liking. Possibly some horse milk or cat milk. Do you get the idea? Well, I’m not serious about this, except to suggest that human milk is for human infants, dogs’ milk is for pups, cows’ milk is for calves, cats’ milk is for kittens, and so forth. Clearly, this is the way nature intends it. Just use your own good judgement on this one.
Milk is not just milk. The milk of every species of mammal is unique and specifically tailored to the requirements of that animal. For example, cows’ milk is very much richer in protein than human milk. Three to four times as much. It has five to seven times the mineral content. However, it is markedly deficient in essential fatty acids when compared to human mothers’ milk. Mothers’ milk has six to ten times as much of the essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. (Incidentally, skimmed cow’s milk has no linoleic acid). It simply is not designed for humans.
Food is not just food, and milk is not just milk. It is not only the proper amount of food but the proper qualitative composition that is critical for the very best in health and growth.
Biochemists and physiologists -and rarely medical doctors – are gradually learning that foods contain the crucial elements that allow a particular species to develop its unique specializations.
Clearly, our specialization is for advanced neurological development and delicate neuromuscular control. We do not have much need of massive skeletal growth or huge muscle groups as does a calf. Think of the difference between the demands make on the human hand and the demands on a cow’s hoof. Human new-borns specifically need critical material for their brains, spinal cord and nerves.
Can mother’s milk increase intelligence? It seems that it can. In a remarkable study published in Lancet during 1992 (Vol. 339, p. 261-4), a group of British workers randomly placed premature infants into two groups. One group received a proper formula; the other group received human breast milk. Both fluids were given by stomach tube. These children were followed up for over 10 years. In intelligence testing, the human milk children averaged 10 IQ points higher! Well, why not? Why wouldn’t the correct building blocks for the rapidly maturing and growing brain have a positive effect?
In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1982) Ralph Holman described an infant who developed profound neurological disease while being nourished by intravenous fluids only. The fluids used contained only linoleic acid – just one of the essential fatty acids. When the other, alpha linoleic acid, was added to the intravenous fluids the neurological disorders cleared.
In the same journal five years later Bjerve, Mostad and Thoresen, working in Norway found exactly the same problem in adult patients on long term gastric tube feeding. In 1930 Dr. G.O. Burr in Minnesota working with rats found that linoleic acid deficiencies created a deficiency syndrome. Why is this mentioned? In the early 1960s paediatricians found skin lesions in children fed formulas without the same linoleic acid. Remembering the research, the addition of the acid to the formula cured the problem.
Essential fatty acids are just that and cows’ milk is markedly deficient in these when compared to human milk.
Read more about this in future blog posts. They wont have huge gaps between them so it wont be long. If you don’t want to keep checking this website, sign up here and receive notifications about new posts.