Get free tips for a healthier,
more balanced life.

The great milk debate

December 7, 2009
0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Going off dairy was the very first change I made to my diet. And boy oh boy was that a difficult decision to make! No dairy? Ohmigod what am I going to eat?

I remember it well. But I was suffering from tremendous sinus infections and something had to be done. I heard that dairy could contribute to that sort of thing – plus, I had a sneaking suspicion that it was milk that caused my stomachaches.

It took a little getting used to but going off dairy made me feel so much better, I didn’t care. My digestion started functioning properly and the sinus infections lessened, then went away. Of course, I also started cleaning sugar and other garbage from my diet so that helped. But dairy…that was my first bold move.

Cut to some years later and you might be surprised to see a half gallon of (always organic!) milk in my refrigerator. It’s funny, after my stomach healed I could tolerate milk again. And in moderation as part of a clean diet, I’m not getting those sinus infections. (Fingers crossed!)

So what gives? Is dairy good or not? Should you go off it?

Well, that depends. Milk, especially raw milk from grass fed cows, is very nutritious. But when it’s pasteurized, heated to crazy high temperatures in the name of killing bacteria, many of the nutritious qualities are lost. Most proponents of milk are specifically talking about raw milk. If that’s something you are interested in, check out for more information.

Milk is a build-up food. It’s meant to grow big, strong cows, or goats, or humans. Need to lose weight? Probably want to cut back on dairy. Too skinny? Maybe quality milk is just what you need.

Milk is advertised as a great source of calcium. But it doesn’t quite add up – in a country that consumes great quantities of milk we have high rates of osteoporosis. In China, traditionally milk is not part of the diet at all. Yet rates of osteoporosis are low. What gives?

If you’re worried about calcium, look to whole foods like dark leafy greens, almonds and anchovies for calcium. And avoid caffeine, which leeches calcium from your bones.

When I drink milk – and I do, now – I always buy whole, organic milk. That’s a whole food. Skim milk is a partial food. I believe in feeding my body food in its most natural state possible. Plus, whole milk tastes amazing. I mean, if you’re gonna do it, do it right! That said, I usually limit my intake to a splash in my tea in the morning, something like that.

Milk replacements? Eh. I drank soymilk and felt virtuous for awhile. But then I read the label and realized it’s full of sugar! I switched to unsweetened. But then I learned about phytoestrogens and all the reasons to lay off consuming so much darn soy. Hmmm. Now what?

Almond milk, oat milk, rice milk? Maybe. It’s all processed, to a degree, if it’s being sold in the supermarket. I mean, you can make almond milk yourself. But you know what’s even easier? Banana milk. That’s what the video above is about because it’s something I use several times a week. It’s fast and about as natural as it gets when it comes to a white, milky substance for your morning cereal. If you’re like me, morning cereal means Uncle Sam’s or another unsweetened brand, or a whole grain porridge or something like that. Banana milk lends a litttle creaminess and a little sweetness. What’s not to love?

Oh, and the blender in the video is the Magic Bullet. It rocks. Makes a great gift!

  • Lori

    That’s an interesting milk substitute. I have a magic bullet and use it all the time! I think ours is just about to wear out, too :D

  • Katie

    Milk and I have an interesting relationship. About 6 years ago, I finally realized that dairy products were making me incredibly sick, so I cut them out (except for the occasional nibble of cheese). A few years later, I started craving milk, and began to introduce a little bit back into my diet. It seemed to work fine. After a while I began to have problems with dizziness, and my doctor couldn’t figure out what was going on. Not long after, I started drinking whole milk from local, grass-fed cows and suddenly the dizziness disappeared. This summer I had to stop drinking it again while I was training for a half-marathon (maybe extreme physical exertion and milk don’t go together in my body??), but now that I’ve stopped running, my body loves it. I’ll never go back to skim milk, and I hope that I can always find a great local source.

    I love the idea of banana milk, though, and I will definitely try it out soon!

  • simpledaisy

    I haven’t had any dairy since this past September and feel a whole lot better!!! My stomach has felt tons better…but since winter has started coming on…my sinuses have been terrible!! Now i’m thinking I have indoor allergies. Geesh:)

  • Lori

    Banana milk? How cool. I’ve never jumped on the dairy free bandwagon. I just enjoy it too much. We are now moving up the fat ladder so to speak. No more skim. I will eventually get to the point where we have raw milk, but I’m not there yet. I’m still seeking a reliable source and reading up on the safety. For now, I’m seeking out the most natural(no hormones) I can until I feel like I can make the raw move.

    I agree about the whole calcium bit. That is a great example of the take it and run marketing tactics in this country, similar to, well, soy. Milk is nutritious, but as other countries have show us, you can have healthy bones without it as well.

  • Eleanor

    Milk has given me stomach aches ever since I was a kid, but I do all right with small amounts of cheese, kefir, and yogurt. I’ve concluded that it’s the lactose (sugar) in milk that gives me problems. In fermented dairy, the sugar’s been all eaten up by the friendly bacteria.

    Soy milk, almond milk… I agree, they’re not great, but I’ll use them in a pinch!

  • Diane Sanfilippo

    I love this post! I’ve gone back and forth with dairy as well. Recently I’ve decided that I’m intellectually happy consuming raw dairy products (milk & cheese) but physiologically I don’t think my body is responding well to it. I actually think it causes a pretty immediate immune/histamine response and I get a sore throat and feel mildly ill for the next day or so. Crazy, right? But at least I’ve pinpointed it!

    I’m pretty crazy about fresh raw almond milk, here’s how I make it :) I’m sure you’ve posted about this before, but just to keep it in context and to share my method…

    Soak almonds in filtered water overnight.
    Then I take:
    2c soaked raw almonds
    3c filtered water
    …throw into the blender
    …strain by squeezing through cheese cloth or a nut milk bag
    …add vanilla & stevia of you like
    …dehydrate the leftover meal in the oven and use it to “bread” foods- divine!


    Diane Sanfilippo
    CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach
    Nutrition Educator Student at Bauman College, Berkeley, CA

  • Chris Edgar

    Your blog always manages to get me hungry or thirsty Michelle. :) When I stop at Trader Joe’s later on I’ll pick up a couple of quarts and see what delightful stuff I can do with it.

  • Mary

    thanks Michelle for the post. I usually use coconut milk as it is hard to get my hands on raw milk. I also never enjoy buying almond or rice milk because it is heavily processed. Of course I was never much of a milk drinker and I usually use it to add to my brown rice cereal or the occasional smoothie…I agree with Chris – always hungry when I stop by your blog.

  • fresh365

    How interesting! I will have to try this banana milk. And I agree the magic bullet is awesome for blending small portions. So easy to clean!

  • elizabeth ~ so wabi sabi

    I love the idea of banana milk…will definitely give that a try. We are fortunate to get raw milk from a farm just a few miles away. But I have been back and forth on whether milk suits me. Butter I would find very hard to give up though so going completely diary free would be tough.

  • Michelle

    @Lori – I will cry and immediately order another when mines burns out!

    @Katie – related to dizziness, interesting. I’ve had bouts of dizziness myself but never considered milk…

    @simpledaisy – NETI POT!! :-)

    @Lori – moving up the fat ladder, I like that!

    @Eleanor – do you ever use Lactaid in a pinch as well? I used to, seemed to help, but then I got to thinking, well what’s in this Lactaid and do I want to ingest that?

    @Diane – I’ve actually never made almond milk so thanks for sharing! I’d love to try it.

    @Chris – I hope it manages to make you healthy too :-)

    @Mary – Coconut milk! Yes! How could I forgotten to mention that? I love it. AND unlike most milk subs, coconut milk tastes great in coffee. I mean, not that I drink coffee. But if i did.

    @Fresh365 – I think we’ll have to start a Magic Bullet fan club!

    @Elizabeth – 2 weeks is a good trial period to see how you feel off of it, if you’re ever curious!

  • theUngourmet

    I don’t feel well if I eat too much dairy in a day. Ice cream always hurts my tummy now. Sometimes I eat it anyway and I always regret it.

    Banana milk is a very cool idea! I’m going to try it on my cereal! Thanks for sharing this!

  • Sweta

    I’ve always been a milk baby-and have not had problems to date! The banana milk sounds yummy-but I’ll never give up my dairy(esp. yogurt)!
    Soda’s (all aerated drinks) tend to leach calcium out of the bones because of the phosphoric acid that they contain-so there’s one more reason to stay away from them. Also,too much protein(meat), and too little sunlight(vit.D) also play a role in reducing Ca absorption.

  • sophia

    Ooh…the milk controversy. I once gave a speech on it. But I still drink milk. Not straight up, but cooked in oats. I think milk is okay for some people. But the best way to eat it would definitely be in fermented forms like yogurt.

0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 Google+ 0 0 Flares ×