I am normally a huge fan of the website Jezebel. Their tagline is “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing.”, but they are so much more. I love their unabashed views on culture and society. However on 2/12/15 staff writer Kara Brown wrote an article titled “Adults Should Not Be Drinking Milk” which currently has almost 400,000 views. Apparently the site also dabbles in health topics, usually on reproductive health or sexuality, but on nutrition they are way off.
Brown writes “Your body does not want you to be ingesting milk as an adult. It very clearly tries to tell you this over and over by giving you diarrhea. But none of you goons will listen…Does diarrhea sound fun to you? Do you ENJOY that experience? For real, stop drinking milk.” Common sense would figure the people who get diarrhea from dairy products probably aren’t the ones who keep consuming it. They might consume lactose-free dairy products or medications to tolerate it, but no one who repeatedly gets sick from a food would keep eating that food.
The article makes the bold claim, “The secret (to) immortality is not drinking milk“. The author reaches this conclusion by stating, “people in Asian countries hardly consume any dairy. In the World Health Organization’s 2012 report, three of the top five life highest life expectancies were found in Asian countries. Consider the dots connected“. The argument that Asian countries who consume low dairy have higher life expectancy? Sweden has the second highest milk consumption per capita in the world and #8 in world life expectancy. Japan is #1 for life expectancy, yet a study found that over 81% of Japanese adults can consume dairy without any ill effects. Milk, cheese, butter and ice cream have found their way into the modern Japanese diet. In fact the Japanese consume about as much dairy per capita yearly as the U.S. does for eggs. The claim that “Asian countries hardly consume any dairy”? India, China and Russia are the 3rd, 4th and 5th highest producers of milk in the world. Of course India consumes the most metric tons of milk in the world with China and Russia not far behind.
The argument that “lactase— stops being produced when the person is between two and five years old.” This is true except in more than half the world’s population which has genetically developed lactase persistence. Having the genes for lactase persistence has been shown to decrease the incidence of fractures and cataracts in women. Lactase persistence has genetically developed through natural selection in populations where raising animals in pastures was prevalent, which is why some ethnicities have a lower tolerance.
Brown makes the argument that milk is high in saturated fat and therefore is bad “The milk you’re drinking is high in calories and contains mad saturated fat“. Coconut milk has 11 times the saturated fat of whole cow milk. Coconut oil has almost double the saturated fat of pure butter. Banana chips have more saturated fat than Coldstone Creamery’s Cake Batter ice cream. Also, the research connecting saturated fats and heart disease is controversial.
It is true, no other adult species drinks milk , but no other animal is capable of farming or domesticating another species either. Also, calcium can be derived from nondairy sources naturally, but the only 2 foods that come close to a glass of milk are collard greens and canned sardines– no one’s favorite foods. And calcium fortified beverages? A lot of the good stuff settles to the bottom and stays there unless you really, really shake it good, which most people don’t.
Food plays a major role in a group’s culture and dairy is a staple in many culture’s cuisine. To remove dairy products would remove brie from France, gelato and lasagna from Italy, tzatziki sauce from Greece, queso papusas from El Salvador, oaxaca from Mexico, halloumi from Turkey, lassi from India, Malva pudding from South Africa, qatayef from Egypt and the list could go on. To remove a cherished food from a culture would be to take a part of their identity.
Although Ms. Brown claims to be a “doctor educated by the School of Common Sense and the University of What Is Wrong With You” , her boisterous claims to not drink milk because “Point: It’s gross” are not substantiated.