That is the question! I wish it were a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this often-asked question about milk consumption. However, we are all biochemically unique so one size does NOT fit all! You need to know the following key points, so that you can make the best decision for yourself:
Conventional Milk is Heavily Processed
Pasteurized cow’s milk is a heavily processed food. This means that it demands enzymes from your body to digest and use the nutrients (and doesn’t provide a lot of nutrition in return). Many people have difficulty digesting dairy due to its lactose and casein content. It is also a very common allergen. Since goat’s milk is the closest to human breast milk and contains less lactose, it can be better tolerated by some.
Milk is ONE Source of Protein
Dairy is a source of protein. So if you’re looking for more protein in your diet, this might currently be an easy go-to for you. Besides raw milk which you may not have access to, the best choice is grass-fed, organic dairy. There are also many other healthier food sources of protein, including plant-based protein. We are seeing hugely successful athletes following plant-based diets. If they can get enough protein without eating meat-based foods, surely us average folk can as well!
Milk contains Calcium but is also Acidifying
While milk does contain calcium, it is also acidifying which means that it causes the body to leach calcium from the bones to neutralize body pH. If you are at risk for osteoporosis, I would suggest alkaline sources of calcium, like raw nuts and seeds and dark leafy greens.
Milk naturally contains Hormones
There is a proliferation of exogenous hormones in our modern environment. So we can all benefit from avoiding excess hormones in our food. Since all animal dairy (whether organic or conventional, whether goat, sheep or cow’s milk) naturally contains hormones from the mother, most of us could benefit from avoiding milk to improve our hormone health.
What about Fermented Dairy?
The other consideration is fermented dairy – meaning foods like yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses. These foods improve the gut biome and therefore have more nutritional benefit than their unfermented counterparts. Keep in mind that these foods still contain natural hormones. It is best to prepare your own yogurt and kefir at home, as most store-bought varieties can be loaded with sugar, thickeners and additives. They also don’t contain the same diversity of flora as homemade versions. Kefir (and to a lesser degree yogurt) contains bacteria that aid the digestion of lactose, and can be better tolerated than unfermented dairy.
If you decide that milk is not for you, there are plenty of other replacements available to you. Homemade almond, cashew, flax, rice, coconut and hemp milks are popular. You can also find alternate yogurts, cheeses and ice creams (coconut yogurt for example) at many grocery stores.