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 🙂
Is that all of the trouble?
Sorry, there’s more. Remember lactose? This is the principal carbohydrate of milk. It seems that nature provides newborns with the enzymatic equipment to metabolize lactose, but this ability often extinguishes by age 4 or 5 years.
What is the problem with lactose or milk sugar? It seems that it is a disaccharide which is too large to be absorbed into the blood stream without first being broken down into monosaccharides, namely galactose and glucose. This requires the presence of an enzyme, lactase plus additional enzymes to break down the galactose into glucose.
Let’s think about his for a moment. Nature gives us the ability to metabolize lactose for a few years and then shuts off the mechanism. Is Mother Nature trying to tell us something? Clearly all infants must drink milk. The fact that so many adults cannot seems to be related to the tendency for nature to abandon mechanisms that are not needed. At least half of the adult humans on this earth are lactose intolerant. It was not until the relatively recent introduction of dairy herding and the ability to “borrow” milk from another group of mammals that the survival advantage of preserving lactase (the enzyme that allows us to digest lactose) became evident. But why would it be advantageous to drink cows’ milk? After all, most of the human beings in the history of the world did. And further, why was it just the white or light skinned humans who retained this knack while the pigmented people tended to lose it?
Some students of evolution feel that white skin is a fairly recent innovation, perhaps not more than 20,000 or 30,000 years old. It clearly has to do with the Northward migration of early man to cold and relatively sunless areas when skins and clothing became available. Fair skin allows the production of Vitamin D from sunlight more readily than does dark skin. However, when only the face was exposed to sunlight that area of fair skin was insufficient to provide the vitamin D from sunlight. If dietary and sunlight sources were poorly available, the ability to use the abundant calcium in cows’ milk would give a survival advantage to humans who could digest that milk.
This seems to be the only logical explanation for fair skinned humans having a high degree of lactose tolerance when compared to dark skinned people.
How does this break down? Certain racial groups, namely black people are up to 90% lactose intolerant as adults. Caucasians are 20 to 40% lactose intolerant. Oriental people are midway between the above two groups. Diarrhoea, gas and abdominal cramps are the results of substantial milk intake in such persons. Most American Indians cannot tolerate milk. The milk industry admits that lactose intolerance plays intestinal havoc with as many as 50 million Americans. A lactose-intolerance industry has sprung up and had sales of $117 million in 1992 (Time May 17, 1993.)
What if you are lactose-intolerant and lust after dairy products? Is all lost? Not at all. It seems that lactose is largely digested by bacteria and you will be able to enjoy your cheese despite lactose intolerance. Yogurt is similar in this respect. Finally, and I could never have dreamed this up, geneticists want to splice genes to alter the composition of milk (Am J Clin Nutr 1993 Suppl 302s).
One could quibble and say that milk is totally devoid of fibre content and that its habitual use will predispose to constipation and bowel disorders.
The association with anaemia and occult intestinal bleeding in infants is known to all physicians. This is chiefly from its lack of iron and its irritating qualities for the intestinal mucosa. The paediatric literature abounds with articles describing irritated intestinal lining, bleeding, increased permeability as well as colic, diarrhoea and vomiting in cows’ milk-sensitive babies. The anaemia gets a double push by loss of blood and iron as well as deficiency of iron in the cows’ milk. Milk is also the leading cause of childhood allergy.
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.