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Is Milk Healthy for You?

By cguyer2112 Mar 19, 2013 3022 Words
Cody Guyer
Lit 101.049
Professor Joyner
Is milk healthy for you?
The start of every mammal’s life begins with the consumption of milk, whether it is from its mother or a bottle. All female mammals produce milk and it’s their responsibility to feed their milk to their offspring. The ultimate reason is to give the offspring all of the vitamins and minerals in milk that will allow them to grow big and strong, while also filling their appetite. Some of the ingredients found in milk that are necessary for our bodies to function on a daily basis are things such as carbohydrates, fat, protein, enzymes, and vitamin D and A. All baby mammals must drink milk to start their life so that they can grow up living strong and healthy lives. Without all of these vital components found in milk, life as we know it may cease to exist. Drinking milk has been the way of life for all mammals and humans since the beginning of time, which only backs up the fact that milk is very healthy for our bodies. Some people think differently of this issue and say that milk is the wrong choice for us and that it can be quite harmful. If we’ve been drinking milk for thousands of years and it contains all of these necessary ingredients for our bodies to function properly, how can milk suddenly be a terrible choice for our bodies? To start off, milk has several different components within it that benefit our bodies and assist in optimum daily functioning. These ingredients also help prove why milk is definitely a healthy choice to drink. Milk contains carbohydrates to give your body fuel by providing energy to the cells in your body. It has protein to help build muscle and other tissues. It also contains enzymes to speed up the process of breaking down materials in your body such as food. Last but not least, it is a great source of vitamin A, for eye sight, and vitamin D, to help absorb the calcium in your body to build bone strength. Despite the fact that on the milk carton it says it contains all of these nutrients, people still believe that milk isn’t a healthy choice. Even with these facts, people still think that milk is bad for us. Don’t get me wrong, there are people in the world that don’t drink milk for legitimate reasons that are unrelated to nutritional factors. One common reason is lactose intolerance. Lots of people around the world are known to have acquired this syndrome. I say “acquired” because more times than not, a person obtains intolerance for the lactose in milk products after the weaning process of birth rather than actually being born with it. The basic definition of lactose intolerance is that people have an insufficient amount of lactase, an enzyme that catalyzes lactose into all of its components, in their digestive system. This could be a legitimate reason not to drink milk –– but these people aren’t the ones saying milk is bad for you. Another reason may be because of the texture or taste. Some people just don’t enjoy the taste that milk has to offer. Others may not like how thick and creamy it may be compared to water. All of these reasons are acceptable explanations to dislike drinking milk. It’s when people don’t drink milk because of nutritional reasons that should be frowned upon. Now that our excused milk drinkers are free of charge, let’s talk about the unexcused. There is an astounding amount of sources that can be found online to support the abolition of milk in the human diet. Many articles rant on about all of the factors of milk that can harm your body. Examples of these statements include things such as milk having the capability to deteriorate bone density. Cindy Jones-Shoeman, a published writer for Natural News, writes in an article from February 2009 about how a woman by the name of Vivian Goldschmidt said, “the animal protein found in milk actually depletes the human body of calcium, exactly the opposite of what milk drinkers expect it to do,” (Jones-Shoeman). Vivian may have an MA in nutrition, but what she doesn’t mention in her article is that it specifies in bone health nutrition –– even more specifically dealing with antidotes for osteoporosis. She gives no evidence in the article proving that calcium does this sort of damage to our body. I think we can now infer that she may be quite informed about the osteoporosis portion of bone health but not about the facts of milk and its effects on the human body. This is why people should be dubious when reading articles online. You never know what nonsense you might stumble upon. To dig deeper into her credentials, Vivian claims to have been diagnosed with osteoporosis but has dealt with and supposedly cured herself of this disease in her own natural manner –– without medication. She was the creator and founder of an organization called Save Our Bones, which is profitable as a company by earning money selling their merchandise such as books and magazines about how to strengthen bone health for osteoporosis patients. What we may not notice is what she said about the animal protein in milk causing the depletion of calcium in our body. She doesn’t specify what the animal protein is or even how its process of destroying calcium works. This means she is saying that this evident protein, when consumed, will obliterate the calcium content that our body has already utilized? I may not know much about protein facts, but I know enough to say that the world has been drinking milk for generations upon generations and there has been no explicit evidence proving that people have actually been losing calcium from drinking milk, which is comprised of 30% calcium minerals. Being that it is one of the most commonly found minerals in the body, calcium is the nutrient every living mammal needs for their growth and stability. Without it, our bones would be jell-o and our teeth would be spongy.

So now that we see milk is healthy for us, which type of milk should we pick? There are numerous types of milk alternatives out there in the world for people to test out and discover, but only one type should be chosen. All milk begins on the whole milk side of the spectrum and continues on to fat-free skim milk when fats are distilled out of it. When people hear the word “fat” they assume it’s malignant to our bodies and could make us fatter and more obese in return. The number one reason for people choosing lower-fat milk rather than whole milk in their diet is because they think these fats are bad for us. Lower-fat milks are also argued to be healthier than whole milk because they have lower quantities of saturated fat, which has been linked to a variety of serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, strokes, and even types of cancer. Both of these factors supposedly add to the conclusion that lower-fat milks help your risk of heart diseases and other potentially fatal diseases along with the ability to lose weight. But unfortunately, the people who agree with these statements would be wrong.

Other websites are on the same track in saying that whole milk is the basis of a lot of health problems such as heart disease, strokes, high cholesterol, and diabetes (Internet Brands). Some people claim that the saturated fat in milk is to blame for these tribulations. Ironically, all of these so-called “facts” have been proven to have the exact opposite results. Science has now revealed that the link between saturated fat and heart diseases is tenuous at best. Two highly honored doctors of nutrition along with a man who mastered in nutrition contributed to the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition about the misinterpreted perspective of saturated fat. One of the doctors, Ancel Keys, has prominently worked on studies in the 1950’s which resulted with his essay titled “Cholesterol Controversy,” in which he added on to the Journal with later. Their summary about saturated fat states that it has been proven to be very beneficial to the human body to consume saturated fat, although in moderation. Their studies show that consuming saturated fats raised good cholesterol –– the kind of cholesterol you want and need in your body to stay healthy. They even specifically added in their paper that, “we are in danger of ill health unless we drink milk because, in letters a foot high, ‘EVERY BODY NEEDS MILK,’” (Keys, Grande, and Anderson). Now that this subject has been cleared up for the misinformed people, we can now move on to even more in depth controversies about the types of milk. Another common misconception is that extracting the fat out of whole milk will make it healthier for humans. Whole milk contains roughly 3.5% fat while skim milk contains essentially no fat and 2% and 1% milk are self-explanatory, but these fats are actually not bad for us at all. Most people would think that less fat means a more pure product, which would intuitively be healthier. The fact is that the fats in whole milk are not actually harmful to our body at all but instead should be known as dietary fats that our body needs and uses in positive ways. Our body uses the fats in whole milk as a carbohydrate to help yield the energy we exert every day. But ultimately, these fats are absolutely essential for the breaking down process of the vitamins and minerals that whole milk supplies us with. The Office of Dietary Supplements –– the National Institute of Health –– states in one of their articles that the vitamins such as vitamin A and D are fat soluble (“Vitamin A” and “Vitamin D”). This means that our bodies can’t absorb these minerals from milk if all the fat has been skimmed off because the fat is what helps break down the nutrients so our body can access and absorb them. Another article also declares that, “you can pump fat-free milk full of a year’s supply of vitamins A and D, but the body can’t access them,” because the fats are not there to break them down for the body to absorb (Bergeson). Also, these milk fats contain glycosphingolipids, which are the types of fats that are linked to good immune system health and cell metabolism (Bergeson). Eating these fats with our daily portion of milk assists in reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes, which proves the earlier statements to be incorrect. Milk that is fat reduced is actually known to lose some of the nutritional content as well. To fix this issue, companies that make lower-fat milk will inject, either in liquid or powder form, alternative vitamins and minerals to keep the nutrient levels the same what it started at –– this being when it began as whole milk. But as stated before, no matter how many extra nutrients are pumped into the lower-fat milks, they are not accessible because of the absence of fats to break them down. So it turns out, the fat in whole milk is actually not bad for you at all, but actually is necessary to allow your body access to the vitamins and minerals in whole milk.

As well as the fat content, people are always worrying about the saturated fat and mineral content on the labels of all of their foods that they eat. Do people even know what they are looking at? Maybe if we all take a quick and careful look at the labels on the cartons we can solve this in a simple and trouble-free manner. Whole milk does in fact have a higher saturated fat percentage in it than lower-fat milk types on the market, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I stated before how saturated fat is good for you in moderation but there is an even simpler way of determining if something is healthy for you or not by just looking closely at the label. On every label of milk are the daily percents next to each nutritional label. Based on a 2000 calorie per day diet, these daily value, or DV, percentages describe the daily value percentage of a nutrient we are receiving from one serving of a particular milk brand. Surprisingly to some people, saturated fat has a percent of daily value next to it, which implies that we need saturated fat in our diet to be healthy –– in moderation of course. Better yet, whole milk, which gives us 25% of our DV percent, supplies us with more of a portion of that daily percentage than lower-fat milks, which can range from 15% to 0%. With lower-fat milks having less saturated fat percentages in them, we would have to drink more to get our daily percent for the day, which also means more calories. So, even though whole milk has 150 calories per cup and average lower-fat milks have 130, you would still have to drink more cups of lower-fat milk to get your daily value of each nutrient label. As a result, you are literally hurting yourself by consuming more calories than needed. If a healthy diet consists of 2000 calories, you would have to find an alternative source to retrieve the rest of the nutrients you are lacking when drinking lower-fat milk, while also being careful not go over a healthy calorie diet.

To expand further on the calorie controversy, whole milk has a thicker content than that of lower-fat milk because it is composed of all of the nutritious fats that we need. I am intending to imply that because whole milk is thicker, and it will fill you up quicker than lower-fat milks will. This means that when people consume lower-fat milks, they tend to be hungrier more often because their milk does not always satisfy their hunger. In turn, this will cause them to either drink more of their milk or eat more of other foods. If they choose to drink more of their lower-fat milk, they are only adding on the extra calories that their body doesn’t need, which would end up being higher than just drinking whole milk. They also might choose to eat on more junk food, such as sweets or salty snacks, to please their craving which will do even more damage to their health and figure. Now granted, some of us may choose a healthier option to snack on such as fruits or vegetables, but when we have hunger pains we will eat anything to satisfy it. The previous paradox will thus contribute to the process of weight gain rather than losing weight –– which people do not normally expect from drinking their lower-fat milks. By drinking whole milk, people will feel more satisfied which will curb their appetite and discourage eating junk food, which keeps off the fat that contributes to weight gain. Since they are satisfied from their whole milk, they tend to drink it in smaller portions, which allows them to consume fewer calories and sugars that we don’t need in our diet. As you can see, milk is more beneficial to our bodies than we may believe. Since the beginning of time we have relied on milk since infancy in one form or another. This hasn’t shown any faults to their bodies, but has actually shown extreme improvement in the growth of height, muscle, and bone density when consumed on a regular basis. So, why do people suddenly think that milk is bad for us and stop drinking it as adults? Times change, and there are people out in the world that try to find loopholes and excuses to why they don’t have to drink milk. This snowballs into the misconception that drinking milk is not a healthy choice for us. But milk’s physical properties and nutritional values aren’t going to change just like that; so it’s inevitable that milk will be healthy for us for the rest of our lives and for all the generations to come. People like to assume that if they have to choose a type of milk then it would be low-fat or better so they can keep their waistlines thin and be better protected from diseases. Sadly, this is not true. Whole milk would most definitely be the better choice because it is all natural and it contains all of the crucial components needed to stay disease-free and actually stay trimmer and fitter. So people of America and the world, milk is not a substance we should ever avoid. Milk is the building block of life which helps us all grow strong muscles, dense bones, and healthy immune systems. And to get the optimum outcome from milk’s effects, choose whole milk. It’s all natural and contains everything our bodies need to thrive. Drink up! Got milk?

Works Cited
Bergeson, Laine. Why Whole Milk is the Healthiest Choice. Experience Life. 31 Aug. 2009. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. Internet Brands. Nutrition of Low-fat Milk. FITDAY. 2011. Web. 5 Feb 2013. Jones-Shoeman, Cindy. Why milk is bad for you. 9 Feb. 2011. Web. 5 Feb. 2013.
Keys, Ancel, Francisco Grande, and Joseph T. Anderson. "Bias and misrepresentation revisited: Perspective" on saturated fat." The American journal of clinical nutrition 27.2 (1974): 188-212. United States. The Office of Dietary Supplements. The National Institute of Health. Vitamin A. June 24, 2011. Web Feb 19, 2013.
United States. The Office of Dietary Supplements. The National Institute of Health. Vitamin D. June 24, 2011. Web Feb 19, 2013.

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