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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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December 18 2013

10 Common Arguments Against Dairy Consumption Explored

By Mark Sisson
184 Comments

MilkI’ve celebrated the goodness of dairy fat quite enthusiastically in recent weeks. If you were just joining us, you might have gotten the wrong impression that you’d stumbled into a PR wing of the dairy industry, and that the streets of Mark’s Dairy Apple run whitish-yellow with grass-fed milk fat. No, children aren’t busting open fire hydrants on warm days to dance around in the effervescent spray of kefir, and on winter days it doesn’t rain milk and snow globs of thick Greek yogurt in these parts.

I’m well aware of the darker side to dairy, and today I’ll be exploring the common arguments against dairy consumption. Let’s jump right in:

Grok didn’t drink milk.

True, but the evolutionary argument cannot prove the suitability or unsuitability of a food – it can only generate hypotheses that we can then test or research. The same goes for grain consumption, nighttime artificial light exposure, sedentary living, or any other evolutionary novel activity. It has to be tested.

Takeaway? The relative newness of dairy in the human diet definitely raises concerns about its healthfulness, but it’s not a resounding argument in and of itself.

We’re the only species that drinks the milk of other mammals.

It does seem a bit weird. That’s mankind, though: we do weird things that no other animal could ever conceive of doing. That’s what makes us the top of the food chain. We’re smart and dominant enough to impose our will on nature. It gets us into trouble – see industrial agriculture and artificial trans-fats – but it also improves our station – see the decision of hominids three million years ago to “see how this dead herbivore flesh tastes.” Like the previous argument, this one can only raise hypotheses.

Takeaway? Our species’ departure from, or modification of mammalian norms isn’t always bad. Or good. The specifics matter.

Dairy raises insulin.

It’s true, it does. Both the lactose and dairy proteins exert an insulinogenic effect that when taken in concert rival that of many carbohydrate sources. I actually covered this topic in a post several years ago and found that acute dairy-induced spikes of insulin don’t seem to be related to body fat gain or insulin resistance in healthy people, and that the studies showing a connection between dairy and insulin resistance used skim or low-fat milk, rather than whole. And in athletes trying to recover from training, these insulin spikes may actually promote recovery. Hyperinsulinemia, where insulin is chronically elevated, is another story. If you’re already insulin-resistant, dairy could be problematic.

Takeaway? Dairy’s insulinogenic effect is good for some groups (lean, insulin-sensitive, athletes or trainees looking for muscle recovery), bad for others (insulin-resistant). Context is important.

The betacellulin in dairy can increase cancer.

Betacellulin is a growth factor found in whey that plays an important role in infant growth. In some in vitro studies, isolated betacellulin has been shown to contribute toward the growth of cancer cells. Chris Masterjohn takes apart this argument fairly well, explaining how similar in vitro studies that incorporate conjugated linoleic acid (a trans-fatty acid especially abundant in pastured dairy fat) show that CLA has an inhibitory effect on the promotion of cancer by betacellulin; how most epidemiological studies show no relationship between commercial milk and cancer; how some only support a relationship between low-fat dairy and ovarian and prostate cancer, but not high-fat dairy; and how whole fat milk is actually associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Takeaway? If betacellulin has cancer-promoting tendencies, it’s probably only when isolated from protective dairy compounds such as CLA and saturated fat. Stick to full-fat, pastured dairy.

Dairy is a general growth promoter and can increase cancer.

Loren Cordain and Pedro Bastos (with a couple other collaborators) released a very interesting paper in which they suggest that rather than being just food, milk is an “endocrine signaling system” whose various components – particularly the proteins – are meant to stimulate hormonally-driven growth in a “species-specific” manner. So human breast milk is perfect for how human babies are supposed to grow and tissue differentiate, cow milk is ideal for calf growth, goat milk for kid growth, and so on. Milk proteins stimulate growth by activating the mTOR pathway and stimulating IGF-1 release. Cordain and Bastos link dairy-induced mTOR activation and IGF-1 release with prostate cancer, citing in vitro and epidemiological evidence that milk consumption during certain developmental phases (prenatal, immediately postnatal, and adolescence) can predispose developing prostates to cancer later in life.

More generally, IGF-1 is a growth promoter which is elevated in childhood – because that’s when people are growing at a fairly steady rate – and in certain types of cancer – because that’s another kind of growth, only unwanted. Since dairy protein consumption is pretty consistently linked to increased IGF-1, it’s easy to assume that dairy can increase cancer risk. Good for growing bodies, bad for growing cancer cells.

So, people with cancer or at risk of cancer should avoid dairy, right? I’m not sure. This study found that a whey protein supplement actually increased the vulnerability of cancer cells to chemotherapy among patients with carcinoma. Another study identified several potential roles for milk proteins in cancer prevention. And there’s the classic tale of Campbell’s rats, where high-casein diets were protective against the development of aflatoxin-induced cancer but increased cancer progression once initiated.

Plus, the mTOR pathway is also where muscle growth happens, which may be why GOMAD (gallon of milk a day) is a popular tactic for strength trainees.

Takeaway? Dairy is a growth promoter, which can be good (muscle) or potentially bad (cancer, particularly prostate when consumed at certain developmental stages). It’s unclear if dairy actually promotes tumorigenesis or promotes growth only once the cancer has been established – or neither.

Dairy increases intestinal permeability, thus allowing proteins and other bioactive compounds entrance into the bloodstream. This can precipitate or exacerbate autoimmune diseases.

For years, I’ve heard that “dairy is designed to increase intestinal permeability.” After all, infants need a bit of a leaky gut to allow absorption of large things like colostrum. It would make sense for milk to increase permeability so this could happen. But it turns out that infant guts are innately permeable, not permeable because of dairy. If anything, it looks like dairy might actually make guts less permeable. I didn’t find any human research to this effect, but I did find some interesting studies with surprising results:

Hydrolyzed casein restored intestinal barrier function and prevented diabetes in a diabetes-prone rat. A later study confirmed these results. A specific casein peptide was also shown to reduce intestinal permeability in another study, and beta-lactoglobulin (another protein component of dairy) had similar effects on intestinal tight junction function. And finally, a component of whey has also been shown to reinforce tight junction integrity.

Yeah, I was surprised too.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t connections, even causal, between dairy consumption and autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, but the presence of leaky gut may be a prerequisite. This would jibe with the observations that people with type 1 diabetesmultiple sclerosisrheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases sometimes linked to dairy intake have higher intestinal permeability.

Takeaway? Although these were either rodent or in vitro studies using isolated components of dairy, it seems like the evidence points toward dairy upholding intestinal integrity, if anything. Given existing permeability, dairy proteins can slip through and obviously cause problems, but I’m unaware of evidence showing they increase leaky gut or autoimmune disease on their own absent intestinal permeability.

Dairy has a high acid load, which can lead to bone calcium loss.

I’ve always been skeptical of this one because using the same criteria, meat also has a high acid load on the body. Should we forgo eating meat, which has been shown to improve bone mineral density? Plus, one recent study found that dairy doesn’t actually make the body acidic. Milk and dairy products “neither produce acid upon metabolism nor cause metabolic acidosis.” Further, dairy is a good source of calcium and – particularly in the case of gouda cheese – vitamin K2, both important co-factors in bone metabolism.

Takeaway? Dairy consumption may not ensure or be necessary for good bone health, but it doesn’t seem to negatively impact it.

Dairy contains ample amounts of bioactive hormones which can have negative health effects.

Since a common practice nowadays is the milking of pregnant cows in order to maximize production and estrogen goes up during pregnancy, it seems reasonable to expect elevated levels of estrogen in dairy. Most studies I came across found that some estrogen is present in dairy, with skim milk containing the most bioavailable form of estrogen (conjugated estrogen, the same kind used in oral hormone replacement therapy). For the most part, the amount of active estrogen found in dairy seems too low for physiological relevance. We have too much already in circulation for it to be impacted by dietary sources, some of which will be nullified by digestion.

Dairy proteins can certainly increase IGF-1 (as shown previously) in people, but it’s unclear whether the actual IGF-1 found in dairy has an effect on serum levels. If you’re worried about IGF-1, fermentation takes care of most of it. Stick to fermented dairy like yogurt, kefir, or cheese (which already has health benefits over regular unfermented dairy).

Takeaway? Hormone levels in dairy vary according to production method, pregnancy status of the animal being milked, and chance. For the most part, the amount of hormones in dairy pales in comparison to the endogenous amounts circulating in our bodies at any given time, so even if we had the leakiest gut in the world and everything we ate was absorbed directly into our blood, it would likely have minimal impact on our hormone levels.

Dairy causes acne.

Among food-sensitive acne sufferers, dairy is probably the most commonly reported offender. Indeed, recent studies suggest a connection between skim milk consumption and acne in teenage boys (less so for whole milk) and in girls. Researcher Bodo Melnik points the finger at the mTOR/IGF-1 activating qualities of dairy (and the Western diet at large) as the culprit. It’s a compelling line of argument.

However, one recent study found that fermented dairy enhanced with lactoferrin reduced the incidence of acne, suggesting that dairy isn’t always antithetical to skin health. Raw dairy might work better than pasteurized dairy, since pasteurization destroys the natural lactoferrin content of milk.

Takeaway? Dairy is a common aggravator of acne and is worth removing or avoiding if you have it.

That bovine serum albumin in dairy resembles human collagen type 1 and can increase rheumatoid arthritis through molecular mimicry.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients do seem to produce antibodies to bovine serum albumin, and one case study found that an RA patient achieved relief with cessation of milk consumption and saw symptoms return with resumption. Still, another more recent paper found that BSA antibodies weren’t associated with disease progression or activity (flare-ups) in rheumatoid arthritis, so it’s still theoretical. I would imagine that the problem (if extant) is exacerbated by the presence of leaky gut.

Takeaway? Seems worrisome enough that people with RA might try avoiding dairy, at least as a trial to see how it affects their symptoms. One confounder is that bovine serum albumin is also found in beef muscle meat. RA patients who are reading this: do you notice problems with beef?

Overall, it appears that dairy has both benefits and risks, and that where you fall depends on several factors, like gut health, insulin sensitivity, activity level, age, as well as the quality and form of the dairy (which though I didn’t really get into are implicit when discussing dairy). In other words, it’s extremely variable and personal.

What do you think, folks? Any other anti-dairy arguments out there? Let me know in the comment section!

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184 thoughts on “10 Common Arguments Against Dairy Consumption Explored”

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  1. I once read in a book about food sensitivities that a way to test yourself was to consume half a liter upon waking up and not consume anything else (liquid or solid) for up to three hours and pay close attention to yourself (gurgling sounds in the stomach eg can already indicate intolerance) in that time.

    I did that and felt absolutely fine, so I don’t worry too much about dairy

    1. You can check and see if you are sensitive to any food by doing a pulse check.

      Check and record your heart rate for 60 seconds, then put the food in your mouth and keep it there. Check and record it for 60 seconds with the item in question in your mouth.

      The rule of thumb is, if its about 13 or more beats per min than without, you should take not it may be something you have sensitivity too.

      Better to do it more than once for consistency, and try it throughout different times of the day too.

      1. I don’t need to test myself. Dairy consistently and significantly stuffs up my sinuses. It’s not worth it.

    2. I don’t worry too much about dairy either. Most Northern Europeans adapted to drinking milk years ago. I could honestly care less if we’re the only species who drinks another mammal’s milk and I think that’s a stupid argument. We’re also the only species to drive cars, smoke, and drink alcohol and look where that gets us.

    3. When I was diagnosed with scleroderma I went on an elimination diet as part of trying to heal a leaky gut. When I introduced dairy back in I found I reacted to it one of the major issues was being very itchy I would scratch but it made no difference, but there is no issue with my stomach, a dairy allergy can affect you in many different was (itching headaches stomach pains etc) it just depends on the person I wouldn’t rely on gurgling noises, there are sites where you can look up the common allergy symptoms.

      1. Hi Trish, I have itching associated with psoriasis. I’ve given up milk, cream and unclarified butter, but have kept in hard cheeses like old cheddar and parmesan in fairly small quantities. I haven’t found full relief yet, so I was wondering if you had to give up ‘all’ dairy products to overcome the itchy skin. Thanks in advance for any input you can provide…

      2. Hi, Trish. Thanks for sharing that. I’ve never heard of anyone having the itching before, except me! I also have scleroderma. I use goat dairy now, which has never been a problem for me. It’s been 4 years now that I’ve been primal in my diet, and I no longer itch with cow dairy (gut healing?), but it makes my joints ache; so, I still avoid it. Best of luck to you.

  2. I’ve eliminated milk several times for a Whole30. I’ve never saw a problem when adding it back in but I’m always surprised and the amount of people that have issues and don’t know about it. I don’t consume much dairy anymore but when I do it is high quality, high fat.

    I think people need to spend more time listening to their body…I mean really listen, as in elliminate and reintroduce. It isn’t fun but it’s the only way you’ll really know the true anwser.

    1. Great answer! So true – but definitely easier said than done at times.

  3. Dairy can cause respiratory issues including sore throat, nasal congestion, bronchitis, sinus infection and asthma-like symptoms. I had problems with all of the above for many years until reading a brief reference to the problem in a blog post somewhere. When I dropped dairy from my diet (including goats milk products) the issues went away. If I eat any dairy the sore throat and nasal congestion return quickly. When I told my doctor why I wasn’t getting sick on a regular basis anymore he said “I’ve heard of that”. I was rather upset that he didn’t ever even mention it to me as a possibility.

    1. I had the same experience. Getting rid of dairy cleared up most of my respiratory allergy symptoms and ditching the allergy shots cleared up the rest. Hmmm. When I told my doctor, he said he’d heard of it, but that it was extremely rare.

      1. Not that rare, I could find a few cases from here.
        On the argument that Grok didn’t drink milk – yes he did, he was a mammal.
        All Groks drank milk as infants, also it was being drunk around them later on. This puts dairy in a different category from chemicals that didn’t exist or foods Grok didn’t know existed.

    2. I too had chronic sinus problems until I gave up dairy. No problems since — no more neti pot!

    3. Interesting how we all differ, those symptoms were from wheat consumption for me. Once I stopped that they went away. However, my younger sister had those symptoms and they were caused by dairy for her.
      My sinus’ hurt every morning until I got rid of the wheat (all grains) and they only hurt due to cold temps.

      1. I’m just thinking…I wonder what the cows are fed that the milk comes from? I can drink milk by the gallon with no harmful effects I love the stuff but the milk (fullfat) I drink is from a grassfed organic dairy, I am wondering if those who have the resp/sinus issues are drinking milk from cows fed a grain/soy diet? perhaps it would be worth trying milk from another source.

    4. Raw milk is the answer. I never ever liked drinking milk growing up and into my 20s, 30s, or 40s, because of the phlegm and coughing fits I’d get into, and the ear drainage, and I seemed to generally not feel good, and I was often ill with upper respiratory things. Once I began drinking raw milk about 10 months ago, I have never had these issues, not one time. In fact, my daily allergy symptoms GO AWAY for approximately 4 hours when drinking raw milk. The fats in raw milk are so good for us.

      1. You’re very luck this is true for you. It is not true for me. I too suffer from phlegm, sinus congestion, snoring, and skin problems (acne and keratosis pilaris) when I consume dairy in any form. I love cheese, yogurt, milk. It used to be comfort food for me. I’ve tried everything many times trying to find something I could tolerate – raw, fermented, unfermented, homogonized, unhomogenized, cooked, everything in every combination I can think of, and the answer is no across the board. Ghee to raw skim milk, all dairy causes me problems.

        I think Mark’s sign off is the key. Dairy consumption is specific to the individual.

        1. I have a feeling that might apply to me, yet I haven’t tested and tried everything yet. That said, I often think it might just be easier in the long run to skip it all together since it doesn’t seem that dairy can really give us anything that we can’t get elsewhere (I may be wrong about that, however). I remember that as a kid, I’d get cramps if I ever drank a glass of milk on an empty stomach. I just thought it was normal, and noticed it wasn’t as bad if I had the milk with food. Now I realize I was probably lactose intolerant back then and didn’t know it. We were never allowed to complain, even when sick, so I never mentioned the cramping and sometimes diarrhea to anyone. Oh well, there are worse things in life than merely giving up a food group like dairy or gluten containing foods…

          Great article, Mark; I’ve learned so much from your site and I really appreciate it—thanks!

  4. Dairy protein, even in small quantities, makes me constipated. Removing dairy from my diet did wonders for my digestion. I’ve experimented with this repeatedly, and the improvements are dramatic.

      1. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s raw, pasteurized, ultra-pasteurized, fermented, curdled, whatever. All give me the same result.

        1. Melissa, Glad to find someone else with the same problem! Yes, even full-fat, raw-milk, grass-fed dairy from Jersey (A2) cows does it to me. And full-fat, raw-milk dairy from goats. And butter and cream (though to a slightly lesser extent). Breath, mucus, skin and weight are also better with no dairy.

    1. that’s funny. i use milk as a laxative. only thing i tolerate is butter and gouda. full fat yoghurt sometimes. gave up even cream for the same reason. within ten minutes after consumption i am filling the bowl. they can shut all the drugstores now, i am fine 🙂

    2. I can guarantee you if you have a problem with dairy being the culprit for your constipation, and you tried raw milk for a few days straight, you would not believe the results. I know children who have been switched over to raw milk for this very reason and it has done true wonders for them.

  5. RE the argument that humans are the only animals that drink another species’ milk, I’ve always thought that was a bit bogus. Have you ever seen a cat in a dairy barn? Or simply put a bowl of milk down for your cat? Seems to me the only reason other animals don’t regularly drink others’ milk is simply that they can’t go to the grocery store and get it; i.e., it’s an accessibility issue. An animal’s milk is carefully protected for good reason! But I bet I could safely wager that if an animal came across a recently dead lactating animal in the wild, they would absolutely “got for it” — and with gusto.

    1. Really good point. It seems funny I’ve never heard anyone point that out before. Other animals do like milk from different species, at least the domesticated ones.

    2. Most cats and dogs are actually lactose intolerant. While I’m sure they’ll go after the mammary glands, they are left with some super stinky farts and diarrhea! Feed your cat or dog some milk and you’ll see er smell! 🙂

      1. Hmm, I give my two dogs milk from my goats everyday, with no noticeable effects… They absolutely love it and now love the goat who gives it.

      2. My dogs and cats all got some cows milk, ( cats 1/2 and 1/2) no gas or other similar issues.

      3. I believe that any animal, humans included, become lactose intolerant after a long period of not drinking milk. You lose the enzymes for it, and by re-introducing dairy slowly to your diet, you can get the enzymes back.

        I feel the same thing happens with wheat. Before going paleo, wheat gave me mild discomfort. After months of not eating it at all, the rare late night slice of pizza absolutely wrecks my stomach.

      1. I love cheese but as Dusti wrote, “super stinky farts and diarrhea” result, as well as sinus congestion.

      2. Agreed. I use stinky cheese to train difficult tricks with dogs because they REALLY want to get it right!

    3. Female animals will nurse other species’ babies–it’s survival. There are countless accounts of dogs nursing orphan kittens, cats nursing baby squirrels, even a deer nursing a baby pig! I saw a pic of a mother dog nursing a baby skunk right along with her pups.

      Survival of the species is where it’s at.

    4. I agree about barn cats, and orphaned animals will drink another species’ milk if given the opportunity. It’s not a first choice, but it is a survival option.

      1. Adult cats and dogs are very happy to get milk. Not saying it’s good for them, but they will all drink it.

        1. They eat whatever smells good to them…carrion, milk, garbage, whatever!

    5. I agree. Humans are very industrious, & I don’t necessarily buy the idea that humans never used to consume cow’s…milk. I think humans ate or drank whatever they could get their hands on. I may not have been common, but Its not hard to imagine Grok going for another mammal’s milk when the opportunity presented itself.

    6. yep it’s all about opposable thumbs when it comes to milking a cow 🙂

    7. I heard about blue tits in Britian that would go after cream in times of doorstep milk delivery. Apparently they found a way to remove the cap from the bottle and drink the cream that would gather on top (not the milk, which would cause diarrhoea)

    8. My chickens, as well as my cat and dog, will drink milk. My family and I have been consuming raw, unhomogenized full fat milk for years, we love it and are all very healthy.
      What the FDA says about raw milk does not concern me, they are bought and sold by Big Ag these days.
      According to the Weston Price foundation, there have been doctors in the past who reccomend raw milk diets to heal patients of certain diseases.

    9. To be fair, humans were drinking milk before grocery stores were around. Prolly has more to do with the fact that we’re the only species that can physically milk another animal.

  6. Humans nurse when young, then lactase gene shuts off.
    The default mode of humans is “lactose intolerant”. Actually the normal state of being.

    1. Agreed, just in this country there are a large number of Northern European mutants who continue to produce lactase into adulthood. I think it is a reflection of the scarcity of fresh food found during northern winters. It kind of reminds me of the poor starving man in Grapes of Wrath who was able to nurse from the poor mom whose baby had died. I imagine such dire straights leading to the prevelance of this mutation. I also brings to mind those tribes that drink the blood of their domestic animals. It seems people will do allot of things to survive.

  7. I often wonder about dairy so I appreciated reading this post. The strongest argument I always felt against it was that no other animals drink other animal’s milk. I love the way that is addressed here– evolution is NOT enough of a reason to do or not to do something…things must be tested and evaluated, not just at the level of scientists, but individuals also. Me? I love me some milk and don’t see whole milk lattes disappearing anytime soon…YOLO

  8. Raw milk is a healthfood!

    Grocery store pasteurized homogenized milk… total garbage. Stay away from it.

    1. While I think raw milk sure is good. the current raw milk worship on the net is rather romanticized. Think about it, for thousands of years in the cold climate, people always heat their milk before drink it. They only occasionally drink the warm milk right out of the cow. They stored the milk and heat it later to drink. I wouldn’t say that is necessarily good, but thousand years of human activity shouldn’t disregard simply because we modern men have all the knowledge, we definitely know better. A lot of the time, we don’t.

      1. I’m happy to hear some push back on the raw milk issue. My jaw is still on the floor after it was recommended for infants on this blog two days ago. There is real risk involved. After all pasturization was not invented as a government conspiracy to decrease our nutrition or line the pockets of big agriculture. It was a breakthrough in public heath that has saved countless lives. Some health benefits were likely lost as a consequence, but in my opinion that is a small price to pay.

        1. It was. It was very very important at a very specific time when milk was first getting shipped long distances while there was minimal cooling tech. We do nobody any good by demonizing how important it was at that time, but we do nobody any good by denying that this time is a different time.
          If you’re still getting your milk shipped to you from across the state, a quick boil before you drink it is probably a good thing, regardless of how well they managed to keep it cold. If you’re getting it fresh every morning from a farm a mile away, then you’re probably fine.
          There’s no solid answer, unfortunately, for all that humans want to know what the rules are. It all comes down to “it depends”. What’s your genetic heritage? Who is your farm? Where is your farm? What is your cows eating? How old is your milk? How well was it refrigerated? Is *anyone* human or not human on the farm current sick? Are *you* currently sick?
          Honestly, I give the stink eye more to homogenization than pasteurization. Unless my farm is next-door, or my health dramatically improves, I’m probably sticking to processed milk products and chai over chocolate milk. But maybe it’s just that I’m a control freak over food. I’d probably do the butchering myself if I could manage.

        2. Listeria is serious business. There is a vaccine for cattle but it isn’t clear that it’s effective. Animals can be infected without any symptoms. An infection is more likely in the winter and early spring due to feeding of spoiled silage and/or moldy hay, raising the rumen pH (thus making it more hospitable for the bacteria). It doesn’t have to be a milking hygiene issue, an infected animal will shed bacterium directly into the milk. Listeria causes the most deaths of any bacterial food poisoning. You can prevent most E. coli and Salmonella with proper milking hygiene since they’re spread through feces, but Listeria is still a serious risk. It’s up to the individual whether they want to consume raw dairy, but personally I pasteurize the milk I get from my goats. It’s just not worth the risk.

        3. Please read, The Untold Story of Milk, by Dr. Ron Schmid to gain a full understanding on this topic. You are uninformed on many of the historical aspects surrounding this topic….Thanks!

        4. Please read, The Untold Story of Milk, by Dr. Ron Schmid to gain a full understanding on this topic. You are uninformed on many of the historical aspects surrounding this topic….Thanks!
          .

          I meant to reply to this comment not the one beneath it, even though it seems it could apply to both of these comments…sorry for the error

        5. I am new to commenting in this format. I was trying to reply to Kristina with my first comment and my second was directed towards JMH. Apologies!

        6. You have to consider that sanitation practices and knowledge have improved since those days, as well. How much sickness was caused by foreign matter introduced to the milk once it was outside the protective body? Some manure that fell in the batch?

          A good farm will not milk a sick cow for consumption; the milk will be isolated and dumped.

          The udder and teats are usually cleaned of any foreign matter, if present. The teats are washed and dipped in a sanatizer, and the first few squeezes of milk are waste to clear the ducts. The pails and containers are sanatized, and small scale non-mechanized milking should put cheesecloth over the pail to keep out any potential drifting solid matter (hay, etc).

          Good practises are a must when looking for a raw milk source.

          Even store milk can make people sick if something goes wrong in the process along the way, only the number of people that can sicken will be much higher in number due to distribution levels.

        7. I also want to note, if you have the option of slow pasteurization and don’t want to risk raw, that’s the better option. It still has some harmless organisms in it, but any potentially harmful ones should be dead. It goes bad faster than the ultra-pasteurizing that kills EVERYTHING and there for extends shelf life.

      2. There’s a subtle difference between cooking milk and pasteurizing milk. There’s good reason to precook the milk sometimes, for the same reason why you precook the meat sometimes. It’s all about how long you leave it sitting around cooked, and how long it’s been sitting around raw. Cooked food goes bad way quicker than raw food, but raw food sitting around long enough should probably be cooked.
        Processed milk products, which is to say yogourt or cheese or butter, are different creatures altogether with different rules.
        It’s a good thing for us to push back against the notion that all bacteria is bad, but going too far denies the health gains of, like, washing our hands and fridges. Like all things, true health is found somewhere in the middle of the bell curve.

    2. Fact: Consuming raw milk is more dangerous than consuming pasteurized. This fact is well documented by the FDA: Each year, more people (around 10x more, each year) get sick from raw milk as do from pasteurized. And less people drink raw milk than pasteurized. Far less!

      The FDA says raw milk is 150x more likely to make you sick. 150 times a small number is still a small number though. Raw milk is still not very likely to make you sick, it’s just much more likely to make you sick than pasteurized.

      Fact: Consuming raw milk has no well-documented health benefits. Studies have shown the nutritional content is similar between raw and pasteurized milk.

      1. get your raw milk, boil it shortly and enjoy. who said you need to drink it raw? point is to drink an unprocessed product, not processed industrially by removing vital nutrients and adding back synthetic vitamins, sugar and whoknowswhatelse.

  9. Interesting collection of research, but I think it’s incomplete.
    It’s a complicated issue, and one that we spend a lot of time working on. We run an herb school and whole health clinic, and in our practice, we don’t find that folks tolerate milk well even after they’ve been primal for a good while. It’s opioid, so sure, we all really WANT to tolerate it. It’s the Power of Cheese, after all! But it just doesn’t seem to play out that way in the actual case studies.

    One man who’s done a lot of great research in this area is Paul Bergner, a very well-known herbalist with a significant amount of training (both in mainstream medical, including medical school, and alternative medicine) and about 30 years of clinical experience working with “food allergies” (that term isn’t quite accurate, of course, but i’m going with it for succinct-ity).

    i’d highly recommend checking out his newly recorded lecture on Systemic Inflammation, Food Intolerance, and Autoimmunity, which you can find here:
    http://naimh.com/inflammation.html

    It’s got some really fascinating information about how the gut lining works, how gut permeability works, what leaky gut is (and isn’t), and how foods play into the whole thing/get played in the whole thing. He also has a lot of details about how the lymphatic system is involved in the story, which is a big piece of the puzzle that often gets left out. If you’re interested in getting really into the nitty gritty about how all this works, this is where to get started.

    The end result for me, both in clinical practice and in research, is that milk isn’t food for adults.

        1. That’s why i love Mark’s Daily Apple so much. He gives health advice for free. All these other places are too expensive for the everyday person. I’m still deciding whether to keep dairy out my diet. It’s actually made me feel worse since I cut it out but with autoimmune, I’m nervous to take it. I’ve become obsessed with what I eat. I think our modern society’s real problem is we have too much choice in foods so we’ve become over-selective and health-conscious to compensate but it’s now ruining us psychologically. We’re no longer free to eat and enjoy life. Everything has to be analysed before we can partake.

  10. I was hoping you would mention the anti-dairy argument regarding the opioid peptide, casomorphine, and its link with autism. I would love to hear your ideas on this argument and whether a GF/CF free diet is beneficial for autistic children.

    1. Natalie, I continue to wonder about the GF/CF (& now also SF = Soy Free) diet for Autism too. I have a 20 year old son W/ Asperger’s Syndrome, & HE would need convincing evidence @ his age to be willing to strictly do the diet because he loves dairy & gluten containing foods. I have been told by TACA (Talk About Curing Autism- It is a FABULOUS resource) that once a person on the Autism Spectrum hits that mid teen age, it can take up to a year to see results form the GF/CF/SF diet. Not everyone sees results, but I wonder if some of this is because it takes high awareness & strict adherence on the part of the parents And the child. (Think of everything that turns up @ school parties & school lunches… not to mention gluten & soy, in particular showing ip in SO many foods and even personal care products like shampoos. Also, a package can claim “gluten free” as long as the food or item is below a certain threshold. So, it may not truly be gluten free. I think of the Autism Spectrum as a 3-D constellation, or globe; I think that every person on the spectrum is unique, & what helps that person is as individual as they are. If you go through parent surveys on Autism Research Institute (www.autism .com), you can see that some parents saw improvements with the diet, & some did not. I do think that ditching the dairy, gluten & soy Absolutely should be tried while the foods your child consumes is still largely under your control. This essentially means Home Cooking, which I realize is a big challenge when both parents are employed. On the other hand, it can be thought of as a commitment to the entire family’s health, just as Primal/ Paleo cooking and living is. We are fortunate that our son w/ Asperger’s is attending a university (on full academic scholarship, without initially disclosing the diagnosis) only 20 min. from home. He lives in the Univ. apartments because we had to weigh the social benefits of living on campus against the benefits of eating what I prepare @ home. Very difficult decision, but seems to have been the best one. When he is home, he eats Primal/ Paleo by default, so this way I control what I can. As kids on the Autisim Spectrum get older, I do think they benefit by having food sensitivity testing done. That way, they can see lab results On Paper. This is likely to carry more weight than “Don’t eat dairy, gluten or soy” just because Mom (or Dad) said not to. Test results showed my son to be sensitive to both Casein and gluten. While results didn’t make him decide to stop consumption, they Did influence him to cut back. I’ll take any progress we can get.

  11. Science has its limits. Research takes a long time and is often inconclusive at best. After struggling with this problem for the last century, most medical practitioners have settled on the heuristic that less intervention is better. The same has happened with food. After chasing various fads, we’re now finally realizing the limits of what we can learn in the lab: fewer deviations from Paleo diets the better.

    I think we can at least agree that all things being equal, if we could go back in time and simply eliminate dairy from the food supply so that all recipes and tastes adjusted, there’d be little reason not to do it.

  12. Great comprehensive review. We only consume raw milk, primarily as kefir and yogurt, but I have taken to drinking more of it because it tastes so good. Not sure how much data there is out there, but I would love to see a blog on the benefits of raw vs. pasteurized milk. I think they are huge. Not only does pasteurization kill all the good enzymes and beneficial bacteria but homogenization destroys the much of the goodness as well.

    1. We have been drinking raw milk for over a year. We have even done a few milk fasts. My husband has diabetes and the raw milk does not spike blood sugar – just the opposite, it causes blood sugar to go down to point of adjusting medication. He has lost weight and overall health is better. There is a wealth of info on benefits of raw milk, including a book written by a medical doctor – the raw truth about milk by Douglas.

  13. I was surprised Mark didn’t bring up the allergy connection. I am doing a Whole30 starting January 1 and I am very curious to see if removing dairy helps with my allergies. I have been eating a lot of cheese and other dairy products over the holidays and it seems my allergy symptoms have increased.
    n = 1

  14. How do we know Grok did not drink milk? It seems more than plausible to me that pregnant animals were killed or found dead, probably every year. And hunter-gatherers seem to consume everything else in the animal…

    1. Pregnant animal don’t lactate, silly goof, only after they give birth do they start. I’m sure there were plenty of postnatal kills though. Although if Grok were smart he would leave nursing animals alone, unless he was starving… you know ensure more for the future!

  15. As I cut sugar and grain out of my diet, I became much more sensitive to what was making me feel bad. (Sugar and grain being the chief ones, so they were covering up sensitivity to everything else.) I’ve recently come to the conclusion that the milk in my Starbucks lattes give me an upset stomach, but that if I instead order an Americano with room (basically, a strong coffee, made with espresso and water…which I get because the actual COFFEE at Starbucks is AWFUL) and then add half-and-half from their pitcher, it does not make me ill.

    1. I’m hoping they will start blending in GF butter to their coffee. I was there the other day and asked for heavy cream, they have it and gave be some in my coffee, almost as good as butter I guess.

    2. You can get a half-and-half latte. My former black apron is screaming at me for not remembering the “proper” word, but the letter they put in the milk box is B. (B uncut eggnog chais were my favourite) Of course they charge extra, but I always personally found I tolerated cooked milk better. (Which is why, up there ^^ I’m kinda wishy washy on the pasteurization debate. I don’t like pasteurizing because I think it’s cooking the milk too early for consumption, not because I think cooked milk is a bad thing.)
      It’s sbux, so you know what your quality is, but sometimes it’s nice to pay for a friendly face and free internet.

      1. And someone further down the thread dropped the actual word.
        Breve. Darnit. Now I’m filled with even more shame. I shall bury my black apron in the ground… when the snow melts… to atone.
        Oh Sbux, how I have forsaken you…

      2. Also, technically, you *can* get whipping cream in your latte, but the baristas really don’t like that, unless you’re really nice to them, because they’re not sure how to charge it and it’s hard to steam without accidentally making butter. But they will top up your Americano with it, if you remember to ask.

        1. Making it into butter would be fine….a buckys bulletproof coffee hack.

        2. As a former barista, I can say that it’s not that difficult. Most coffee shops have a standard upcharge for a milk sub. Steaming heavy cream is…different, but there is no chance of it turning into butter. Butter is created by churning, not by steaming.

    3. what type of milk does Starbucks use? is it full fat organic from grassfed cows??? probably not

      1. Where do the beans come from, how are they grown, who, gets the money, what habitats are being destroyed?

      2. a while ago i asked to see the label for their cream and it had carrageenan in it which gives me a major headache. same with other gums.

  16. I’ve had significant relief from intestinal problems and sinus issues after ridding all forms of dairy from my diet. I wish I wasn’t intolerant to casein and lactose, ‘cuz I would be killing me some raw yogurt, kefir, heavy cream, quality cheeses… ugh. Instead, I just consume a ton of coconut products to ease the emotional pain.

  17. I haven’t had milk for almost 2 years, but I can’t give up my almost nightly ice cream ritual 🙂

    I definitely have less mucus build up and less colds.

  18. Great review!

    And as several of the comments show, it comes down to trial and error for each individual to see how their bodies respond to different dietary interventions.

    I had an employee with asthma who would drink milk throughout the day. When I suggested that the milk could be contributing to her allergy symptoms, she thought I was crazy. After working for me for several months and listening to me explain to pet owners the concepts of gut function and inflammation, she decided to reduce/eliminate the milk consumption. She saw her asthma symptoms decrease dramatically.

    And as far as the argument for the fact that humans are the only species to drink the milk of other animals, we are really the only species capable of gathering that milk without killing the source of the milk. And, it’s a rare dog or cat that would turn down the opportunity for whole milk, or cheese, or yogurt!

  19. I completely baffled the coffee shop guy when I asked for my latte to be full fat. He replied that they use 2%. I then said, “You have 1/2 & 1/2 don’t you?” He was shocked that I wanted that and said he had never heard anyone asking for their latte with full fat. For the record, this was a very rare thing for me as I do not drink lattes–I stick to tea. I was shocked after reading Mark’s earlier post about the sugar in low-fat milk. I immediately compared my 1/2&1/2 to a bottle of 1% 1g vs. 11g respectively. I am unwilling to give up my dairy.

    1. I hear you! I finally found a good barista who told me what I wanted was a breve, which is a latte made with half and half. It’s not on the menu at a lot of coffee shops, but I’ve never had a problem getting one if I specifically asked for it. I love my breves!

      1. Oh god, thank you. Breve. Now I have to go back up to my other comment, in shame, and addendum my remarks about the B lattes.
        I need to find my black apron and return it in shame, apparently. *laugh*

  20. What about lactose-free milk? Does it help with the insulin issues?

    1. No, because lactose-free milk just introduces bacteria which converts the lactose into better digestible sugars. There’s just as much sugar, it’s just a different kind.

  21. Mark,

    There is also a difference between bovine, ovine, goat, camel, etc..milks A1 vs A2 milk consumption. While other mammals don’t drink milk past a certain age, put a cup of raw milk or cream in a dog or cat bowl and watch them go to town on it. They are not drinking the milk from a logical scientific perspective.

  22. I no longer consume milk because I find I have no use for it (on cereal, etc.). Full-fat cottage cheese and aged cheeses? Heck yes – easy protein in the morning or when I need an afternoon snack. No issues, digestive or otherwise.

    I agree with Emelee’s comment regarding other animals; they most certainly WOULD drink milk if they could get it, the cat example being perfect.

  23. I gave up sugar a few years ago and went full paleo 6 months ago after reading Marks book. I do love dairy though, I gleefully converted my family back to full fat milk (from skim and soy) we cook in butter and I’m eating cheese guilt free.
    I wouldn’t use raw milk though because of the disease risks to my children.
    My worry has always been that in the last 6 months I have consumed a lot of whey protein powder because I’ve been hitting the weights quite vigorously and I quite like its taste. But I feel great and I’ve ended up with single digit body fat, muscles and abs for the first time ever ( I’m 50 years old) … So I guess that means that I personally am ok with dairy?

  24. Other animals do in fact drink milk when they kill the lactating animals. Bears in particular are particularly bad and have been known to kill many sheep in one night doing nothing more than eat the udders of the ewes nursing lambs. Mountain lions will also preferentially eat the udders of lactating prey species first.

    1. Cats are also very happy to drink cow’s milk from a bowl or even from a cow being milked. And, just leave a glass of milk on the floor with a dog nearby. We know most omnivores or carnivores will eat eggs. I suspect most would drink milk if available.

      1. When I first read this article in mid-December, I kept wondering why my cats weren’t interested when we’d try to ‘treat’ them to some half and half or heavier cream. They would take a sniff, then move to their fresh water bowl instead. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to test things out and I removed their water dish for two days to see if they’d drink some cream then. The first day they didn’t touch it, but the second day they each took several good slurps of cream then walked away. I then put their fresh water bowl down next to the cream and when they came back to their feeding area later, they went right for the water instead of the cream. Is it possible that some cats and dogs are merely so thirsty that they’ll drink almost anything, including cream if that’s all they can get? I wonder….

  25. When I consume too much dairy my face breaks out, my nose gets congested, my pms symptoms worsen, my joints ache (mainly my hands) and I am more prone to migraines. Shame is I love dairy so I tried raw milk but all the symptoms were worse.

    1. Same exact symptoms as me! Except my knees and shoulders are the things that ache, not my hands.
      (Possible TMI alert!!!)
      One of my pms symptoms is REALLY tender/swollen breasts, and this gets wayyy more severe with dairy. It bothers me a lot, but my boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind…

      I can do a little dairy though, without too many issues. I drink a little kefir a few times a week, have half n half in my coffee every day, and cheese or ice cream as a treat every once in a while (like once a month).

      1. Oh, I forgot to say, any dairy I do have HAS to be organic, otherwise the symptoms will happen full-force from just the tiniest bit of the stuff!

  26. During the 80s, I was following a Macrobioticdiet and lifestyle, which was vegan in that they weren’t (at that time) eating meat or dairy. I was told by people advocating that diet at that time that when I stopped consuming dairy I would notice the following changes; any bad breath would clear up, I would notice less mucus in my system, I would have fewer incidence of cold/flu, I would notice that if I had the tendency to have the brown or yellow staining in the arm pits of my white t-shirts, that would disappear…I may have been told other things as well, but I do not recall what they were. I followed this diet and lifestyle for 5 years, and this was my experience; I didn’t have breath to begin with, so no change there…I absolutely noticed far less mucus in the system, I absolutely had fewer colds, and the couple of times I caught a common cold in that 5 years, it was a cold with very, very little mucus…the most fascinating part to me was the clearing up of the arm pit stains in the T-shirts…was it from the dairy?, I dunno, seems like it was…I have no science to back this up, only my experience

  27. I resisted the removal of dairy from my diet for a long time, considering similar issues as this article states plus the fact that dairy is tasty. I had already removed wheat and most processed foods from my diet. But finally I tried a run of no dairy and found some nagging sinus issues and general tiredness and headaches went away. Plus I have more energy. To put things in perspective, I have had wonderful digestion all my life, even when eating unhealthily. Now I eat fairly healthy as well and am the poster child for least likely to have leaky gut. I seem to digest the lactose just fine, no gas or any signs of trouble. Yet still the milk was doing something in there that caused problems and from what I have read, there are many others like me. Science doesn’t yet have all the answers, you also have to look at what actually works when the rubber hits the road. Most people consume dairy (and wheat) every day and it would only be possible to see their effects if one actually tried a decent period of abstaining. If dairy is really no big deal than why not go 10 days without and and just see for yourself? You might find the results to be rather interesting. Are you so addicted that you can’t stop at all? And if nothing happens, you can always go back to eating it later (And for those who love ice cream, So Delicious makes some very tasty nondairy coconut cream based and almond milk based ice creams that rival cow ice cream..)

  28. For those who are allergic to dairy, you may want to explore Ghee. Properly prepared ghee from pastured animals is a repository of the sunshine vitamins A, D, K, E. It is amazing for cooking, even at high temperatures. Some of my Indian friends call it “liquid gold”.

    The following excerpt can be found at: http://www.pureindianfoods.com/paleo-diet-and-ghee-a/260.htm

    Paleo Diet and Ghee

    First popularized by Dr. Loren Cordain in his landmark book of the same name, the Paleo diet has since become a global phenomenon — a call to return to how we evolved to eat, with its message spread far and wide on the internet. Where possible, many Paleo dieters opt for food in its most natural state: meat, fruits, and vegetables in abundance, while de-emphasizing food that is heavily processed or the product of the feedlots, laboratories, and factories that have become synonymous with the modern food industry.

    On another level, the Paleo diet has become about individuality. A chief concern of the movement is to obtain lasting, optimum health, but with the knowledge that every individual — in light of intolerances, sensitivities, etc. — must determine for themselves what their body needs to achieve it.

    For that reason, dairy — for all of its nourishing qualities — tends to occupy a ‘grey zone’ amongst Paleo eaters. Though it serves as an excellent source of healthy saturated fats, vitamins, and micronutrients, legitimate concerns exist about the impact of lactose and casein on the body. The former is a sugar found primarily in milk, while the latter is a protein with some similarities to wheat gluten, another problem point for many Paleo dieters. For more information about dairy sensitivities and lactose intolerance, please refer to Dairy Intolerance article.

    Given these concerns, many Paleo dieters opt to completely remove dairy from their diet. A Paleo dieter looking for the safest way to incorporate both the flavor and many benefits of dairy in her diet, then, is left with two options: butter and ghee.

    A Healthy Solution

    Butter, being primarily animal fat, has had a majority of the problematic milk sugars and proteins removed. It can still cause problems, however, in the case of someone highly sensitive to either lactose or casein, leaving ghee as the absolute best option for enjoying dairy’s numerous benefits with none of the drawbacks. Ghee is produced when butter is clarified, meaning all but trace amounts of lactose and casein are removed. The final product offers a rich buttery flavor, several vitamins, and a highly stable, cooking-friendly saturated fat. Though tiny amounts of lactose or casein can remain, they exist at a level low enough to not cause concern for a Paleo dieter (sensitive or otherwise).

    The benefits, likewise, are tremendous: vitamins A, D, E, and K2, all of which are found in abundance when the butter or ghee originates from cows fed rich, green grass. Given the broad range of benefits it offers, and given the lack of lactose and casein, grass-fed ghee comes highly-recommended as both a nutritious and delicious choice for any Paleo dieter.

    Checkout review of our ghee in Paleo Magazine: Paleo Magazine, “Review: Pure Indian Foods”, August 7, 2012

    Pure Indian Foods Grass-fed Organic Ghee has also been featured in:

    The New York Times
    Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora T. Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT
    It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig
    Marks Daily Apple
    Whole9 Life
    Nom Nom Paleo
    Rich Food Poor Food: The Ultimate Grocery Purchasing System (GPS) by Mira and Jayson Calton
    Disclaimer: Please note the views and opinions in this article are for educational purposes only. The information is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For questions about how to treat your illnesses, please consult your health care providers.

    Copyright (C) 2011-2013, Pure Indian Foods Corporation, http://www.pureindianfoods.com. This article may be reprinted in full provided it is accompanied by this credit line.

  29. All I know is that I soon as I gave up dairy ( was only doing grass fed butter and cream) I lost 20 pounds of fat. Without changing anything and I would say I’ve even increased my fats from coconut. So yea, I’m sensitive to dairy. I do miss my butter.

    1. That was my experience, too. I’ve tried adding dairy back to my diet about 3-4 times and each time, I gain weight rapidly. Once I eliminate dairy again, the weight falls off.

      1. Me too! I cut the dairy (ALL dairy) and lost 10 pounds over 3 months (so far). Weight loss occurred even though I was probably consuming the same, if not more, calories, and I was not exercising. I love dairy, but I love losing weight (without effort, except avoiding dairy and other problem foods) even more.

        I was already eating a gluten-free diet low-ish in carbs and no legumes.

  30. Milk gives me severe acute mood swings and ends with days of depression. I noticed this especially after ice cream. After switching to goats milk products, I felt much much better and had more energy. Though even with goats milk, if I have too much the acute irritability and depression return. I think this has to do with the ratio of A1 vs A2 beta casein, since goats milk only has some A1 and mostly A2 (which is why too much causes negative effects). French cows are also A2 cows and (before I knew this) I always wondered why brie never seemed to affect me like regular American cheese.

    I think the A2 vs A1 Beta casein is a major issue and I’m surprised that wasn’t addressed.

  31. You can come up with all the arguments about diary and other food groups both for and against, but at the end of the day if you listen to your body and notice how you feel after consuming a certain food, that will be your final argument, case closed, forget the latest research or different groups peddling ideas, whether it feels good and energising for your body is the only thing that matters.
    For me, that means good quality butter and ghee, but thats it.
    I know diary works for some people, and I would put money on it that those people are mostly blood type B.

  32. BTW, another research article, milk increased gut permeability in rat pups, but a strain of lactobacillus if added was able to block the increase:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8253341
    Part of the prob is milk is made of many components and you have to scientifically look at those components in their whole state if you are going to be consuming them in their whole synergistic state. Also consider most of these studies are rat studies and rats are biologically not so similar to humans. What we need to know is what happens to HUMANS when humans consume various dairy items out of the grocery store, the outcomes of which might be quite different than what happens to baby rats when stuffed with just one tiny component of one dairy item that has been additionally processed (thus potentially altering protein structure, etc) in order to split it away from whole milk.

    Also considering many cultures do not have a history of dairy consumption and many people find themselves genetically lactose intolerant and that dairy has long been associated with allergy, acne, and weight gain as well, IMO it is likely that over time, some human populations have developed tolerance and adaptation to traditional milk food sources but others have not.

    In the past, food was also often an issue of some being better than none. With no fresh meat available, cow milk was probably better than not having a fat source, but was it really the best option for the body overall? Was adaptation so advanced that milk was equivalent in health to other food sources or what it just better and more reliable than nothing? Therefore, I would not suggest giving a blind green light to milk as a healthy food source without further decent quality unbiased research on humans. And of course the milk industry fronts most of the research money and big pharma has no interest in such research so there isn’t much of it.

  33. I think I made the best decision for my personal health today. I will not allow another person to tell me whether a food is healthy or not. While I do respect Mr. Sisson–I think a person just needs to listen to their own body. No matter how much science an article contains–the proof is in the pudding. You can CHOOSE to ignore the answer, but it doesn’t change the proof. I want dairy to be healthy because I love my full fat Greek yogurt…but I don’t run well on it so it is a rare treat I enjoy in the moment but deal with consequences always. There are no food police…if it walks like duck……

  34. Long before I discovered the life enhancing Paleo / Primal Blueprint lifestyle I read a book that changed my life in it’s way as much as Mark and Nora have, it’s Your Life in Your Hands by Jane Plant an English earth scientist who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and through her own research discovered it was caused by milk. Thats the short version. I am completely convinced no one should consume dairy having read the book and then discoverd I am allergic to it. This is about massively increased chances of breast and prostate csncer for dairy clnsumers and I promote this book to others as much as about Paleo..

  35. As an archaeologist, the whole 10k years ago cut off thing is pretty arbitrary. There could have been a single Grok keep a single cow 50k years or 350k years before hand. Perhaps thought of as an odd ball at the time. The 10k number is when agriculture and animal husbandry became “common” rather than what individuals had been doing for thousands of years. Its not like they kept records.

    1. I think a 10K cut off is a simplistic view. Not sure it is generally used as anything but a shorthand for the epoch when large shifts in food production towards agriculture occurred. I don’t think you’d get much argument that we can’t know if some outlier individuals were doing so for a long time before (barring actual evidence). To me , it doesn’t matter whether they were or not. Fact is, I can use what evidence that does exist to guide my personal experiments in what works for me. So far, results happen when I unwind the Most Certainly Recent back towards keeping the Most Certainly Ancient. The biochemical explanation might catch up in my lifetime, but I doubt it.

  36. Looking at the health of the Masai people when following their traditional diet it is hard to believe that (raw) milk is unhealthy. If you want to learn more about milk, I highly recommend Ron Schmid’s book ” The Untold Story of Milk”.

    1. Finally! A refreshingly sensible comment. I highly recommend Dr. Ron Schmid’s book, The Untold Story of Milk, as well. His book, Traditional Foods are Your Best Medicine, also has great info about quality, raw dairy. He comments that he does not tolerate raw dairy (made into kefir ideally) unless the cows are not fed any grains at all. You would be surprised to find out that many dairies that claim to be grass-fed still feed their animals a portion of grain. This is a problem. Even some of the most well known, quality raw dairies like Organic Pastures include grains in the diet of the cows. Personally, I find this to be very true, raw milk kefir from 100% grass-fed cows is like medicine for me and all other varieties of dairy are like poison for me. Also, watch out for farmers that feed their cows moldy hay in the winter, this happens quite easily (it must be dried properly and kept out of the weather). This can definitely create allergic responses too. Check out Jordan Rubin’s book, Patient Heal Thyself, as well. He healed from several severe autoimmune illnesses (which, as we all know, means he had leaky gut) by totally changing his diet to include ample amounts of raw, 100% grass fed kefir. Soil based probiotics were also key to his healing. As for raw, 100% grass-fed kefir being acid forming, I have found this to be entirely false. Grain-fed, factory farmed milk or kefir is definitely acid forming, but the former is so rich in alkaline -forming minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. I monitor my saliva and urine ph carefully because I feel so much better when I maintain an alkaline ph and nothing normalizes my ph better than this kind of quality kefir! I think everyone would do great on this kind of quality kefir, which is unfortunately a bit hard to come by…Last of all, check out Natasha Campbell McBrides and Donna Gates work too. They have remarkable success using this kind of quality kefir (along with other dietary protocols) to fully heal autoimmune issues, autism and other disorders that are often associated with leaky gut like schizophrenia, bipolar, etc.

      1. Loads of pro’s & con’s about bovine dairy…it is, indeed, a very personal matter. Almost enough to grind us all to a halt and wonder where the hell to go with it all.

        Only a small handful of goat or sheep milk based comments…and yes, these are personal too.

        A couple of points from me too

        Other mammals do consume milk. I live next to both a cow dairy farm and a goat farm and both report problems caused by badgers sucking from their livestock and sometimes badly wounding udders when, it seems, they try to eat the udder off the animal….we are not alone in this milk consumption there may well be other animals that try this on. I keep sheep ( for meat) and the only reason that the ewes kick them away when they are older is because they have teeth and they hurt the mothers. The point is, they still try to feed from the udders when they get older.

        I consume un-pasteurised goat milk kefir fermented over 2 days blended into a multi- fruit and nut smoothie ( a Vitamix is ideal for this because it emulsifies the skins, seeds and nut beautifully) every day. I add organic oats and or coconut flour as these help to slow down the carb spikes and have never been healthier.

        There are billions on this planet and if Paleo has taught me one thing, it is that we are all in different places on the evolutionary scale. They key to our healthy survival and enjoyment of life is to find out where we are, personally, on that scale,

  37. I have dairy almost daily
    Greek yogurt mixed with nuts, coconut oil, etc
    Also full fat cheeses (danish blue cheese with red wine ahhhhh!)
    Butter is a dear friend
    It’s been a loooong time since I had the last glass of milk

    I did the experiment of stop all dairy for two weeks, to see if there was some effect.
    After the two weeks I did not notice any changes in my weight, energy levels, etc
    So my diagnostic for myself is that I am OK with dairy

  38. Two other major factors with dairy are A1 vs A2 beta casein, and pasteurization. Most people have a host of problems with pasteurized and/or A1 milk, while very few experience any negative issues consuming raw A2. They are completely different foods. One is poison and the other a life enhancing gift.

    I personally know of many people, myself included, who cannot drink pasteurized dairy without experiencing illness symptoms. On the other hand, I feel and perform better when I drink raw goat milk.

  39. If an animal in the wild was to kill another animal (which happened to be lactating) wouldn’t they eat the entire animal, including the milk?

  40. Thank you! I am a wanna be vegan! But, the only way I get or stay at a healthy weight is lo carb. I really appreciate primal. I really don’t like meat that much and I’m on the go a lot, so my cheese and fage are so important to me! I also love cream in my coffee. I don’t seem to have adverse affects, but I really worry about all that you took apart! Thank you for the reassuance that my diet isn’t evil!!

  41. I can also vouch for some immediate negative effects if I consume the whey portion of dairy, namely stomach ache and constipation. If I continue, skin deteriorates as well. Butter or heavy cream does not seem to be a problem. Having read paleo stuff for years, it now seems to me that a resilient healthy body can take quite a hammering and bounce back quickly, in the short term. The more recent the historical introduction of foodstuffs , the more careful we need to be, and unwind those things first. I cannot find a better yardstick to evaluate dietary tolerances than the historical record of the species as far as we can know it. Otherwise, you might as well just follow the latest according to the checkout line magazines.

  42. The one thing I’ve learned here, is that everyone reacts to food in a different way.
    I’m able to buy raw milk and have been drinking it two or three times a week for over five years now.
    I like it and don’t have any negative reactions to it….so I drink it with my morning smoothie.
    On the other hand I’m sensitive to almonds, peanuts and eggs….which most here seem to swear by and eat everyday.
    Everyone is different and must go by what their body…and blood tests…show.

  43. Has it occurred to anyone that the reason that we’re the only animal that drinks other species’ milks is because we’re the only one with the empathy required to bond closely enough to another species so that it lets us get near its udders AND the only one with opposable enough thumbs to milk (or the smarts to operate a milking machine???)

    A previous commenter noted that predators certainly WILL preferentially eat udders and pigs fatten really well on whey, too. We aren’t the only ones who consume dairy, we’re just really, really good at it.

  44. I suffer from GERD and reflux.
    Dairy agravates adverse symptoms,so I removed dairy totally from my diet,and this works well for me.
    As I am on PPIs,I do worry a bit about bone weakness,but so be it.
    I am constantly searching for a natural alternative to PPIs,but without any success so far.
    Any research in this area would be most welcome.

  45. It’s not a totally ‘either or’ proposition. There are some people who can’t drink milk or eat butter on account of lactose, but who can consume yoghurt and cheese with out ill effects as the lactose is destroyed by the fermentation process.

  46. The arguments for moderation or elimination make sense. All I know is that I’ve had an insatiable relationship with dairy since I can remember. My mom use to limit me to a glass if milk a day and boy did I get into trouble more times than I can count.
    Due to reasons unbeknown to me I didn’t nurse when I was born. I’ve always wondered if that had something to do with it?
    Milk, cheese, yoghurt…. you name it. And obviously ice cream is my treat of choice.
    I live an active, healthy lifestyle. I get the flu maybe once every four years or so. The few unwanted pounds is in all likelihood due to my diary addiction.
    I’m trying to cut back and stick to raw when I can’t resist.
    Letting go of sugar and grains felt easy compared to this. 🙂

  47. I have mild R.A. and I definitely have an issue with dairy. Butter or cream leads to inflammation, pain, stiffness, congestion, and sometimes a migraine with goat/sheep cheese pretty much the same. Probiotics seem to make these reactions a bit less severe. Cow’s milk and cheese are a total no-go still.

    Ghee is barely tolerated and creates a little inflammation and congestion (at least Purity Farms, Ancient Organics, one from a farmer’s market in Chico, CA, haven’t tried Pure Indian Foods or OMGhee). I’ve known I had an intolerance to dairy for many years although I was just recently diagnosed with the R.A.

    I would be really curious to hear from others who have R.A. I am severely sensitive to dairy and gluten and pretty sensitive to many other foods that I pretty much avoid (nuts, soy, eggs, histamine, coconut). I am hoping to some day stop taking NSAIDs and I may be willing to go further to get there.

  48. My husband also gave up dairy because of sinus problems and it definitely helped. I don’t have dairy because it gives me dreadful skin breakouts – I LOVE dairy so have been very reluctant but have recently given it up for a second time after a definite downward slide when butter, yogurt and cheese started creeping their way back in!!

  49. There are always consequences. I agree that since the industrialization of our food sources, we have pretty much lost our informed right to choose what we eat/drink. The issue of milk in and of itself could be a health issue for some; however, milk and its production in this day and age has been so altered, I am not sure we can even call it milk. So, you have the issue of the added growth hormone, which most cartons of milk will state explicitly that there is no definitive difference between r-BST treated milk and non-treated milk. However, there was a scientific study back in 2006 that proved otherwise, and this information was not made public because of pressure from the producer of the hormone who has a lot of clout/money. There are now many major milk companies who have eliminated the r-BST hormone and boasting about it. Imagine that. On another note, you need to be aware of carrageenan, found to cause inflammation (and many reactions related to this inflammation throughout multiple body systems), that is included in many dairy products. Let’s not forget the role GMO plays into this, feeding genetically modified corn to cows that do not tolerate eating corn, and the horrible conditions of the milking facilities CAFOs. All things considered, I choose not to drink the milk we have available to us today. And, while I am sure raw milk is a better choice-as it is proven that pasteurization of milk and some are even ultra-pasteurized, makes the milk less healthy-and many people who are lactose intolerant can stomach raw milk, because it contains the enzymes you need to break it down, I am skeptical to try it (unless I knew the farmer). Eliminate all GMO and you will see how much better you feel. Follow some sort of exercise routine – anything, just get up. And rally for our right to choose what we eat by having GMO labels on food. Buy organic and get back to basics and support your local farmer. If you want to learn more read Michael Pollan’s, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Good read. It will change the way you look at food. Also, there is a video on YouTube “Seeds of Death” that spells things out quite nicely as well. To your health,

  50. So, does the information about dairy and prostate apply to all dairy products? I tend to use raw milk cheeses, butter and heavy cream, and very little other dairy. I was also recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and I’m still trying to decide if or how to treat it. If the limited dairy I am eating would make a difference, it is easy for me to get rid of it.

  51. “the evolutionary argument cannot prove the suitability or unsuitability of a food – it can only generate hypotheses that we can then test or research. The same goes for grain consumption, nighttime artificial light exposure, sedentary living, or any other evolutionary novel activity. It has to be tested.”

    That’s why I love this blog, critical analysis.

  52. I don’t really believe that we’re the only mammals that drink the milk of other animals. Hasn’t everybody seen the news stories about a squirrel who nursed kittens, or a puppies nursed by a cat, or any number of other odd combinations of adopted tiny animals nursing from a different species who, for whatever reason, decided to let it? Seems not-so-weird that we would do it, too.

  53. Removing dairy stopped the symptoms of lymphocytic colitis that I was experiencing. It concidentally reduced rhinitis and sinus issues as well. A few years later I removed gluten, and now after a few years GF I can tolerate small amounts of butter and cheese. I haven’t been brave to try larger amounts! If you’d ever had colitis, you’d understand that.

    I would have liked to see this post of Marks further explore the impact of dairy for those with a leaky gut. Maybe another time.

  54. I love dairy products, but they make me fat. I was eating it freely for the first year I went Primal, but on a hunch I stopped my yogurt smoothies and cheese consumption et Voila! – lost that stubborn last few pounds.

    I eat it sparingly now – usually a few slivers of pecorino romano on a big-ass salad, a tiny serving of Haagen Daz, a dollop of heavy whipping cream in tea or coffee.

  55. Posts like these are why I love MDA and the primal approach, as opposed to the general paleo diet. It challenges both conventional wisdom and paleo intuition, e.g., the grain spectrum vs dismissing all grains as toxic.

    I really enjoyed this post and its rigorous exploration of so many specific points. Thanks for providing such a great resource for everyone, Mark.

  56. Thank you for the research, Mark! Years ago I read that the main problem with whole milk is homogenization as the tremendous pressure used “straightens out” the naturally “bent” fat molecules, making it easier to pass undigested into the blood thus wreaking cardio havoc. Does anyone want to share some knowledge on that? I pretty much have not consumed liquid whole milk for 40 years because I read that…my experience with cheese is pretty much the same as with meat: in limited quantities, consumed with sufficient veggies (like a salad) it is no problemo. By itself, or in massive quantities (more than a few ounces at a sitting) it plugs up my colon, resulting in constipation and occasionally initiating a flare-up of my chronic diverticulitis. BTW reading Primal Connection now, Fascinating.

  57. This may very well have been brought up in one of the previous posts, but after skimming through them I don’t see mention of it so I will add my 2 cents here. There was a time, back in the good ole days when I was drinking gallons of store-bought pasteurized milk from my local grocery store. A few years ago, before I even knew of MDA and Paleo, I gave up drinking milk because of the sugar content.

    I haven’t seem this issue addressed here, but as I said,I may have missed the previous post. Cow’s milk bought from your local grocery store, the stuff most of us and our kids drink/drank contains loads of sugar. The stuff I was buying had 12 grams of sugar per 8 oz. cup. When I cut waaaaayyyy back on my sugar consumption, milk was the first thing to go. And, boy, did I miss it. I literally went through milk withdrawal. It was by far the hardest thing for me to give up – even more so than pasta, bread, etc.

    I currently have been on a low-sugar regimen – as well as low-carb – for several years now, but am always in awe as to how much sugar some dairy products contain. Cottage cheese (another of my all time favorites) — the lo-fat stuff actually has more sugar per serving than the full fat variety has — who’d a thunk it?? Check the labels, people.

    The amount of sugar that store-bought yogurt and kefir contain is pretty well known, but I think that somehow plain ole cow’s milk doesn’t always seem as offensive sugar-wise. Also, half n’ half has sugar in it but heavy cream does not
    — go figure—-

  58. Hey I just remembered back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, when Los Angeles was home to huge dairy farms, I drank–and loved–fresh churned buttermilk. Ah, but places like Bellflower, Norwalk, and Santa Fe Springs were paved over long ago and fresh buttermilk cannot be had at any price.

    1. What a coincidence that I saw your post about Los Angeles dairy farms. My friends and I, who are from the area, were just pondering the question, “Which smelled the worst, the dairy farm, the duck farm, or the pickle factory?”

      Sorry for the non sequitur, just got a little excited about the long gone dairies of LA.

  59. I’m not sure it’s relevant what an animal “will” eat. My cat’s favorite food is split pea soup! Humans are animals too and we will eat twinkies etc. It only shows we are opportunistic and versatile when it comes to survival…us and our pets.

  60. This is interesting, and it seems Mark is tempering his position on dairy. What I think would be more interesting is a detailed discussion of the way milk is processed. The process of “ultra-pasteurization” is something I’ve just recently found to be problematic. I always thought our organic, ultra-pasteurized milk was superior…both because it was “organic” and because it was “ultra-pasteurized”. Organic I get. But I just learned that ultra-pasteurization alters milk proteins in a way that makes the body view it as something requiring an immune response, which is what my body did.

    As for the benefits of whey…I’m becoming less sure about this one, too. I believe there are benefits to it, but I now believe there are hidden costs to its consumption.

  61. I have RA, and the only two things that flare me up are wheat and stress. If I add back in even a small amount of wheat I have symptoms within a day. Milk products are fine with me, although I did show a mild allergy to dairy on a skin-scratch test at the allergist’s office. (Strangely, I don’t have any allergic reaction to consuming dairy products, though I have an asthma attack any time I eat corn – which I was told I was not allergic to by the allergist. I think those tests aren’t really that accurate. Luckily since I went Primal my asthma has almost disappeared, so I don’t have to worry about it much any more.)

  62. Claiming that we are the only animals that drink the milk of another species, so that must be weird, is like saying that we are the only species that eats cooked food, so that must be weird. Animals can’t cook because they don’t have hands. They can’t milk cows for the same reason. If they did, they might.

  63. This is pretty cool. I wish everyone who does well with dairy and everyone who does badly with dairy would go back and say:

    “I’m Northern European and I do well with dairy”

    Maybe we could see a trend.

  64. I used to have migraines on at least a weekly basis…. for years. Then, after stopping dairy completely, my migraines stopped….completely. One morning three months later, I woke up with a wicked migraine, wondering why…. it occurred to me that the pasta sauce I had eaten then night before had cream in it, which I confirmed when I called up the woman who made it the night before. In the 20 years since, without dairy in my diet all of this time,I have only had a handful of migraines, associated with other things–congestion, dehydration, too much sun. And I haven’t had a single one in now more than 10 years, and that associates with a fairly reliably dairy free diet. I can’t see myself going back to dairy products for the migraine risk any time soon. My kids still eat dairy, and they have migraines regularly…. one day they will suffer enough to consider the dairy free experiment!

    Oh, and yes, I lost 25 lbs in 6 weeks of starting my dairy free diet, most of which I have kept off for 20 years!

  65. I wasn’t aware that milk can be associated with cancer risk, though there is no clear evidence about it. But still I think it would ideal to not consume milk or dairy products on daily basis, instead include it in your meal occassionaly.

  66. I live in Switzerland, and you would be shocked to find out what a dairy based culture it is. People consume all sorts of dairy – yogurt, quark, cream, butter, cheese (mostly raw and fermented). And this is one of the healthiest nations in the world. (They eat loads of bread and potatoes too).

    I think it all depends on the dairy quality. You can easily find raw sour cream, raw butter and raw milk in organic shops here. But even the dairy in the supermarkets is superb quality. Cows are not given antibiotics and all that kind of stuff, and most of the time they eat grass (all regulated by law).

    I personally think that dairy should not be blames for all the health problems, it is also a question of personal intolerance.

    1. I compeletly agree that it is all about the quality of the dairy as I expanded upon in my earlier comment.

  67. I never really thought into milk that much… I’ve generally always been healthy without many health issues or anything so I didn’t think too much into it. Just thought milk was good for calcium like everyone always tells me!

    Having second thoughts now… better look into it more!

  68. Too many comments to read them all, but I was suprised that I didnt see anyone talking about allergies/intolerances that are specific to each individual or even ethnic groups. I have recently been reading about how in different areas of the world different intolerances are more common due to traditional diets and genetic variances specific to a given area. Anyone know anyhting about this?

  69. We’re the only species that drinks the milk of other mammals???

    So a lion kills a zebra that’s lactating, you think the lion would just avoid the part of the animal with milk because, what, it’s gross?

    Or a wolf kills a baby buffalo that’s just been nursing from its mother, and therefore has a stomach full of milk. Would a wolf not eat the stomach because it has milk in it?

    No, I’m pretty certain that predators in general eat most all of their prey, including the mammary tissue of a lactating animal, or a stomach that is filled with milk from nursing. And therefore they are consuming the milk of other animals.

  70. The Maasai are about as Grok as Grok gets, and to this day they subsist almost entirely on cow’s blood and milk. Just some milk-food for thought.

  71. All my favourite foods are dairy, couldn’t live wihout it.

  72. In the 70’s I had a chiropractor who was anti dairy.
    He said that, when we are weaned as infants our bodies cease to produce digestive enzymes necessary for milk.
    Also we lack four stomachs.
    I cannot keep the cheese away, but how I love SweetRiot 85 %
    Chocolate melted in almond milk and Stevia.

  73. After 50 years of loving milk I have gotten lactose intolerant and have fecal incontinence with consumption of dairy or dairy based things. I didn’t realise that was the cause until I went on a diet and started buying the milkshake type diet drinks to substitute for meals. Then I went dairy free for a while and the fecal incontinence stopped. Every time I add in cow’s milk products _ except occasionally cheese _ I have it. So dairy free _ cow milk anyways _ now.. I like my goat cheese and yogurt now.

  74. Talk about a biased hack-job blogger. This blog just sinks to new lows. Ok, you’re vested in the diary industry, and will only see it one way. Stick to selling supplements, and stop pretending your some sort of science guy. You’re a cheap poser, borderline fraud.,

    1. Jack – I’d love to know what you’re basing this on. I’ve found his research to be sound and if new evidence comes to the fore, he’s adds it. As someone who avoided dairy forevah and now enjoys a bit of whole milk, homemade kefir, I’m curious what you’re pointing out as the “new low” here.

  75. i do suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis as it runs in our family, and I used to notice my hips (my main suffering point) get much worse when eating a lot of beef. However, it was (for me at least) only really noticeable when I was also eating fair amounts of sugar, when I was younger. If I only eat beef and haven’t been also eating sugar, the hips seem just fine. (Sugar alone wasn’t as bad either, although still noticeable.)

  76. I think it is important to make the distinction between the value of raw organic grass fed milk and pasteurized, homogenized, confinement raised milk. They are entirely different products and should never be confused as being the same thing. I drink a small amount of grass fed raw milk and don’t touch the pasteurized rubbish. I notice even the raw milk can make me gain weight very easily if i have too much so I keep it very moderate but my family enjoy fairly ample amounts and are fine.

  77. It seems like all the legitmate problems with dairy that mark identified are almost certainly only associated with UNFERMENTED dairy (i.e. milk). Even the case study on rhematoid arthritis, his condition improved because he stopped consuming MILK, not dairy perse.

    It is also worth adding to mark’s comments on the evolutionary argument against milk.
    It is true that dairy is out of synch with our evolution, and it is also plausible that we should not consume dairy in it’s raw natural state because of that. However fermentation transforms milk into a novel food which may then be fit for human consumption, in the same way that we did not evolve to eat raw potatoes, but cooking starchy vegetables transformed then into a novel food which then became a part of our evolutionary diet.

  78. That was a difficult article to write and very well documented. Must have taken Mark days to write. My hat is off.

    I can’t drink cows milk: makes me anti-social. But I can drink cow’s heavy whipping cream and I can drink Goat’s milk. I can also eat nearly any type of cheese, depending on what it tastes like.

    Here is something that confuses me. Mark stated that milk consumption was not primal as such. Hmmmmm. Grok didn’t heard animals? I think Mark might have made a booboo. He can be forgiven.

  79. Thanks for all the insight that you’ve shared about mik. Personally, i’ve gone to almond and coconut milk since going paleo / primal, and many of the reasons are the things that you’ve brought up in the article. As a personal trainer, I’ve tried to explain how milk isn’t always the best fluid to drink after a workout, this gives me more “ammunition” to educate my clients about milk.

  80. I really enjoy your insights Mark, I’d like to share some info I’ve accumulated regarding Milk.

    Contrary to all dairy propaganda, animals milk is taylored to the individual species, Cow’s milk’s for example is formulated to aid a 60LB calf’s transformation into a 600 LB Cow.

    Animal’s milk is in fact liquid meat rich in the wrong proteins for human consumption including caseins which are difficult for humans to digest. These undigested proteins enter the lower intestines where they putrefy and create highly toxic by-products which poison us. Undigested proteins can also enter into systemic circulation provoking allergic reactions.

    In addition, the added antibiotics, steroids, hormones and pasteurization (in some milk) change the milk chemistry making that milk even more damaging. We were meant to consume human’s milk and its essential fats which are taylored to our early development but for no more than the first four years of life.

  81. “We’re the only species that drinks the milk of other mammals”

    Look I applaud your enthusiasm but this argument is a bit silly. First of all this argument presumes that all species are equal in intelligence. Second, I have yet to encounter any mammal that if fed cow milk would turn it down. My dog and cats will drink this stuff all day long if I give it to them. They love it. The fact that other animals don’t drink cow milk is simply because they are not smart enough to figure out how to get it from a cow.

    How about this argument…Humans are the only species to go to the bathroom in a heated, enclosed room on a porcelain seat. Hmmm…should we go back to digging a hole in the woods and using grass and leaves to wipe?

  82. Well, other animals do drink the milk of other species. The theft of milk from lactating seals by gulls has been captured on film a number of times. The gull pecks at the seal pup till it yanks its head away to bawl, at which point the gull gulps furiously at the gushing milk. Feral cats in Baja California do something similar – claw at the nursing pup till it releases the teat, then lap at the milk. The feral cats that do this are healthier and stronger than non-milk-stealing kin.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-jJGZijUC4
    Gallo-Reynoso, J.P., and C.L. Ortiz. 2010. Feral cats steal milk from Northern elephant seals. Therya 1:207–212.

    Pigs have been reared for (probably) millennia on the waste products of dairying. Chickens adore milk, fresh or sour. As to cats and dogs being unable to digest milk in adulthood, none of mine have ever had any problems at all.

    Like many others, I think that other animals would readily consume the milk of other species throughout their lives if they could just extract it. I also think that humans throughout time, killing a young animal that had a stomach full of milk, would have eaten the curds with gratitude and enjoyment.