We’ve been conditioned to believe that milk is good for us and our children, but is that really the case? For decades we’ve heard that milk is high in Calcium and Vitamin D, among other essential nutrients we need. But is milk really doing us good or is it harming our kids?
Well, let’s get it out in the open right now. Humans have no biological need for milk. There, I said it. Yes it is nature’s perfect food … but only if you’re a calf. High in saturated fat and anabolic hormones, it is perfect for growing cows, not children. You wouldn’t give your child anabolic steroids now would you?
So why is it promoted so heavily in the media? Well, that’s a whole other story, but suffice to say that those behind it have lined their pockets heavily and are not in it for our health. They will spin whatever they need to to keep their bank balances healthy.
And no, dairy and cows milk does not promote healthy bones and strong teeth. Throughout the world bone fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk compared with those that do1. There are much better sources of calcium, Vitamin D and phosphorous than cow’s milk. In fact, with all those hormones, studies show milk may actually increase the risk of cancer3 and promote weight gain.
And that is not down to the fat content. There’s little evidence to prove that eating fat makes you fat2. Actually the reverse is probably being proved true today more than ever with Keto and other similar diets. Yes, while it is true that eating less saturated fat reduces your LDL or bad cholesterol, it is not the amount of LDL you have that is the most important. It is your LDL to HDL (good cholesterol) ratio that matters. When you eat saturated fat your HDL actually goes up improving the ratio, which is the most important marker of your risk of heart disease.
Naturally occurring saturated fat makes you feel fuller. If the fat is removed, then the same quantity of food, or drink, will not satisfy your child making them reach for that extra biscuit or pack of crisps. These high glycaemic carbohydrates or sugary foods are clearly shown to promote obesity and type 2 diabetes.
So no, skimmed and semi-skimmed milk is not better if it makes your children eat more than they should. Of greater concern is the flavoured variety of low fat milk which can contain up to 30g of sugar. That’s more than a can of coke! Shocked? There’s more. Some brands of flavoured low fat milk are now sugar free. The artificial sweeteners they use have been shown to slow metabolism and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by 33% and obesity by 200%.
Just how much many grams of calcium does your child need each day exactly? Recommendations vary from country to country. Here are the recommended daily values (DV) for calcium according to the British Nutrition Foundation4 and my top 10 alternative foods high in calcium along with their recommended percent DV for kids: