Sunday, April 3, 2011

Should Your Child be Drinking Other Milk at a Year?

I've been urged, as I'm sure other mothers have been as well, to give Little Man whole cow's milk. Our pediatrician said to give him at least three glasses a day. Um, yeah we'll see about that. I have so many food sensitivities myself and my father is allergic to milk (not just the lactose) and since Little Man inherited my latex allergy, I'm not giving cow's milk a chance.

I know that there are other concerns about cow's milk and what is in it. Some people have stated that just cow's milk in general is too harsh for our systems being that baby cows have four stomachs to break this stuff down and we (last time we all checked) have one. That alone might give some of us cause not to drink milk.

However, it gets better or should I say worse. In this article from The Tech, MIT's oldest and largest newspaper by Michael Borucke, "What's That in My Milk?" the word 'cancer' is thrown in the mix. I'm not going to quote the whole article but it is something you should definitely read if you are still on the fence about this. Basically the bovine growth hormone that they inject into cows to increase their milk production affects us too because we have similar hormones in our body. Since we are smaller then cows though it affects us a lot differently. Now I'll quote:
What could an increase of a hormone that stimulates cell production mean to the average person? There have in fact been plenty of studies that link higher levels of IGF-1 hormone with increased risk of cancer. One such study was conducted at Harvard University. In a sample of 15,000 white males, those with IGF-1 levels in the range of 300ng/mL-500ng/mL were four times more likely to develop prostate cancer that those with IGF-1 levels in the range of 100ng/mL-185ng/mL. Other research suggests potential links between increased IGF-1 hormone in the body and an increased likelihood of breast, colon, pancreatic, and lung cancers.
Did you see that statistic about white males? Little Man is white and a male, so do I really need to increase his risk of cancer by four times? I think not. The end of the article talks about how Monsanto the company behind that artificial hormone has kept the FDA and Congress on their side and prevented dairy farmers from labeling their cows "rBGH-free".

So what is the argument for milk? It is a source of calcium and has added vitamin D to aid in its absorption. There are other sources of calcium such as spinach greens, turnip greens, collard greens and mustard greens. Not to mention you could just grab some Tropicana with Calcium and vitamin D if you are completely against eating greens.

Sure you can get certified organic milk or raw milk but what else is out there? Alternative milks that you can consider if you are switching from nursing or formula feeding coconut, soy, goat, rice, almond or other nuts, hemp and oat milks. There is a nice chart and list from Go Dairy Free that compares a lot of brands. That chart however just lists whether they are Gluten Free, Vegan, Country of availability and whether it is stored cold or is shelf stable. But it does list the websites for each of the brands. laid out more of the specifics of the pros and cons of each type of milk including the texture, taste and use of each of these alternatives in "Milk Alternatives and Dairy-Free Beverages" by Victoria Grace.

If you are concerned about soy allergies or GMOs there is a great article by Becky Striepe, "5 Soy-Free Milk Alternatives" My personal favorite coconut milk makes its debut in this article. I love coconut milk! I only discovered it when I was researching coconut oils benefits and checked to see if they had a milk. Also if you are looking for an alternative to sports energy drinks definitely try coconut water. I am going off on a tangent though. Back to milk.

I am allowing Little Man to be on breastmilk for as long as he wants and I am able to sustain him. I already compiled enough research to know that my own milk has once again changed its composition to fit his needs as a toddler. So as long as he is nursing there is no need for him to have an alternate source of milk and he doesn't have an aversion to greens or the sun so calcium absorption isn't really a big argument for either. So I'll keep nursing and if he wants some of my coconut milk I feel confident in my choice that there isn't anything in it that does not belong like some creepy growth hormone and the farming industry has yet seen the need to genetically modify coconut trees so for now I feel safe.

The preceding statements are opinion and should not be taken as medical advice. If you have questions about any of the above products or statements please consult your health professional. In other words what is right for me may not be right for you.

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