Monday, November 27, 2006

The Dairy Fairy

Remember the load of bull that yielded a buck under your pillow when you were young? That's right, the tooth fairy. She daintily collects orphaned teeth while leaving behind a predictable dollar or two. I don't remember when this sweet myth rotted away like taffy stuck in my molars, but other mythical stories were fact until I learned otherwise as a knowledgeable adult. The little white lie I will share today is that of MILK. MILK, doing a body good, making your teeth and bones STRONG among other things. I spent some time with friends yesterday, and their lil' ones were sipping the magical white potion as their mommies sipped some bubbly. I wondered why this lie must live on. The baby in my belly ain't drinking any milk but my own, which means alternatives abound when it comes time for weaning.
Apparently the Miami Herald just ran a story about Chocolate Milk being a great way for athletes to replenish while working out. Today, a story begs to differ by dietitian Susan Levin. She says,"I suggest skipping the fat and cholesterol found in milk and sticking to water or a conventional sports drink. No one -- athlete or not -- should rely on chocolate milk for calcium, carbohydrates or protein. Plant-based foods offer a much-healthier source of vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals."

Plant-based foods vs. MILK:
"Studies have shown that vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than do nonvegetarians. Vegetable greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products are good sources of calcium from plants."

"American women have been consuming an average of two pounds of milk per day for their entire lives, yet thirty million American women have osteoporosis. Drinking milk does not prevent bone loss. Bone loss is accelerated by ingesting too much protein, and milk has been called "liquid meat."

Nutritionists and physicians have learned that plant products are good sources of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D because they can be easily absorbed by the body and don’t contain artery-clogging fat. The American Dietetic Association states, “Well-planned vegan … diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.”
From the same website above, I found this info which is VERY interesting and helpful for vegan moms or moms to be. It outlines each nutrient in question, and how to find them in plant-based foods. The first one is my favorite, because its the dreaded question for ALL vegans!

Protein—Consumption of too much protein is a much bigger issue than not getting enough. Protein deficiency is common only in countries suffering from famine. Eating too much protein, however, can lead to cancers of the colon and liver. Children can get all the protein that their bodies need from whole grains in the form of oats, brown rice, and pasta; from nuts and seeds, including sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, and spreads such as tahini and legumes, including tofu, lentils, beans, and peanut butter.

• Iron—Some babies’ intestines bleed after drinking cow’s milk, increasing their risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia since the blood that they’re losing contains iron. Formula-fed babies should be fed a soy-based formula with added iron to minimize the risk of intestinal bleeding. Iron-rich foods such as raisins, almonds, dried apricots, blackstrap molasses, and fortified grain cereals will meet the needs of toddlers and children 12 months and older. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so foods rich in both, such as green, leafy vegetables are particularly valuable.

• Calcium—Cornbread, broccoli, kale, tofu, dried figs, tahini, great northern beans, and fortified orange juice and soy milk are all excellent sources of calcium. As with iron, vitamin C will help your child’s system absorb calcium efficiently.

• Vitamin D—Cow’s milk does not naturally contain vitamin D; it’s added later. Vitamin D-enriched soy milk provides this nutrient without the animal fat. A child who spends as little as 10 to 15 minutes three times a week playing in the sunshine, with arms and face exposed, will get sufficient vitamin D because it is synthesized in the skin when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

• Vitamin B12—Whereas other primates get their necessary vitamin B12 from feces, dirt, unchlorinated water, and insects, any commercially available multivitamin will ensure an adequate amount of the vitamin for your child. Vitamin B12 is also found in fortified soy milk and many cereals.

Quite frightening tis the following but I think your knowing is going to make the milk in your life become less, uh, appetizing. Apparently the dairy industry is monitored by the USDA for a "safe milk supply." Get ready, milk can only contain 750 million or less puss cells PER LITER in order to be shipped across state borders. "In the year 2000, the average liter of milk in America contained only 323 million pus cells, according to Hoard's Dairyman, the dairy industry magazine. Author Jim Dickrell reports that the level of pus cells has been rising ever since farmers began using Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone." Quoted from a dairy industry magazine, "When cell counts in milk exceed 200 (million per liter), the odds favor that the [udder] is infected or is recovering from infection. "
Approximately one-third of the cows being milked at any one time in America are stressed and infected. Milk from these cows contains large amounts of bacteria, virus, and pus. As a consequence, farmers must treat their herds with increased amounts of antibiotics.

Oh, and ORGANIC MILK...."The healthiest milk from the healthiest cow is naturally loaded with lactoferrins, immunoglobulins, and growth hormones. Horizon's organic milk contains animal fat and cholesterol, dioxins, and bacteria. The amount of somatic cells (pus) in organic milk is lower than milk from non-organic cows, but it's still dead white blood cells and dead bacteria. Ask yourself this question. Does organic human breast milk sound like a delicious drink for an adult human? Instinctively, most people know that there are substances in breast milk that are not intended for their adult bodies. Same goes for pig's milk and dog's milk. Same for cow's milk."

I am uncertain where to go from here. I suppose I will focus on our next holiday, Christmas, where Santa (magically fat but always fitting down the chimney) gulps down a glass of milk and cookies you leave for him. My advice, if you want good loot, skip the milk and serve up some delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies. (recipe below!)

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