Nutritionist Ritesh Bawri tells us about the pros and cons of giving up on dairy for children.
There was a famous campaign in the United Stated “Got Milk?” It showed the image of a person with a moustache made of milk. The advertisement was promoting the virtues of milk for humanity. We do have to ask though, is milk good for us?
Mother’s milk is proven to be beneficial for the newborn. It contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Everything that the infant needs. However, unlike other animals, human beings continue to drink milk well into adulthood and even beyond. They source this milk from other animals such as cows, goat and sheep. In particular, cows came to be the mainstay as a source of milk.
The protein in the milk of a cow can be either A1 or A2. A1 milk has protein, the bulk of which is made from casein. Casein is known to be harmful to humans. Therefore, your choice should be to drink A2 milk, if you do. Industrial farms have been set up now to produce milk. The cows are fed hormones and other stimulants to increase the output of milk. Many of these can be harmful to human beings. Milk is also blended from multiple varieties of cows before it reaches your doorstep. Milk also carries a lot of the pus and bacteria found in the cow. Depending on what it is being fed and the conditions in which the cows are kept, many of these could be harmful to you. Of course, the manufacturer would make a case for a hygienic and a well-maintained environment. Often, it is hard to keep track of the source of the milk.
It is for many of these reasons that many experts argue that milk is not fit for human consumption. In its defence, milk has calcium, protein and good fats. These are vital nutrients for human beings, especially vegetarians or vegans. The benefits could easily outweigh the risk, primarily if the milk is sourced correctly.
Many mothers fret over their choices when it comes to milk. Personally, I consume milk or dairy in its derived state. For example buttermilk, cheese, kefir, yoghurt etc. have good bacteria. The bacteria is extremely good for the human body. During the process of fermentation, the lactic acid is also reduced or removed as is the casein. It also retains most of the nutrition that is good for you. For the mothers out there, you might want to choose these options over raw milk in its original form for your child. Consuming milk in this form is suitable for all children once they migrate from mothers milk to cows milk.
If you do wish to eliminate milk or dairy completely from your diet, you might run into nutritional deficiencies. Especially if you are vegetarian. Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, protein and other vitamins and minerals. Substituting with nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds are viable, but your bet is still to consume some form of dairy.
(Dr Ritesh Bawri, nutritionist and physiologist, has a degree in Nutrition from Stanford University & Tufts University and a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School.)
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