Yesterday, both Pari and I were going through a terrible back ache. I was at the kitchen counter, when she came downstairs and stood behind me. I was telling Avie (my hubby) this time my back ache is acute. Immediately, Pari said, “mamma, mine too.” I asked, why Pari, you didn’t sleep well last night.” She replied, “no, I got my periods a while back.” It was the first day of our moon cycle. It was the first time, ever since Pari got her periods (nearly nine months back), that we both started bleeding within an hour of each other. And, I sighed in my heart and thought, if only we would have made these diet changes earlier on, she wouldn’t have had to deal with the ordeals of menses at her age (she’s less than 12 now. Was 11 when she got her cycles).
Early menstruation, heavy bleeding, PCOS (polycystic ovarion syndrome), Acne.
This was my story of growing up. At age 11 as I got my periods, my radiant skin started becoming scarred with acne, plunging my self confidence down to pits. The abdominal cramps made me shiver and shriek. And the bleeding was so heavy, I would end up staining even after wearing a metre-long khadi towel folded up to form a huge bulge between my legs. It hampered normal activity, let alone playing, cycling or any other activity that a child at 11 would want to indulge in.
Growing up, I was also eating a milk-heavy diet – loads of ghee (clarified butter), curd, sweets made with condensed milk, a glass full of milk with ginger and a pinch of tea – morning and evening (we called it doodh chai or milk tea).
Now, what does my puberty problems have got to do with milk, eh, you might sneer?
It’s a well-researched fact that all cow’s milk have 59 bio-active hormones (according to endocrinologist Clark Grosvenor in the Journal of Endocrine Reviews in 1992.). Not only that, it has scores of allergens, herbicides, pesticides, dioxins (upto 200 times), antibiotics, pus and blood (due to non-stop milking using machinery) etc.
Read this article titled, ‘Early Sexual Maturity and Milk Hormones‘.
Here’s an excerpt from it:
As a little girl becomes a big girl, then a mature woman, she will naturally produce in her lifetime the equivalent of only one tablespoon of estrogen. Hormones work on a nanomolecular lever, which means that it takes only a billionth of a gram to produce a powerful biological effect. Should little girls be encouraged to pop estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin pills each day? If they drink cow’s milk, that is just what they are doing. If they eat cheese and ice cream, they ingest concentrated forms of these hormones.
Female ovaries are very sensitive organs, and they go into an overdrive when cow’s milk, replete with growth hormones, is ingested. Milk also has a powerful growth hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1). This is there because the newborn (the calf) is supposed to grow quickly. Alright, good for the calf. Each species of mammal has a different formula. Cow’s milk contains hormones, and consuming cow’s milk will deliver these hormones to the human body. IGF-1 found in milk increases risk for ovarian disruption and even cancer.
These hormones also cause rapid growth, excess weight and early puberty in girls. This explains why today’s girls are developing breasts at an age when twenty years back around the same age they used to be flat chested, and didn’t have to deal with the ordeals of early menstruation. The faster we grow and mature – against nature’s slow growing plan – the earlier we move towards degeneration and exhaustion. The hormones for fast growth in animal milk are the best sources of developing abnormal growth cells like fibroids, sarcoma and cancer.
Talking about PCOS, if you google “PCOS and cow milk”, you’ll come across scores of relevant pages that link this issue with cow milk. And oh, I’d like to add – many, many vegans that I know, who had PCOS, have vouched that it went away within four months (or less) of quitting dairy. There was no sign of it in the lab reports!
Now, if the hormone levels in cow milk are of any concern, we’ve got to pause and look into how the cow milk we source today comes to us.
Did you know that in traditional societies, cows were milked only for 4-5 months after giving birth. But, today, they are milked for 10 months a year. They’re milked even while they’re pregnant with the next baby, which is only possible because they’re impregnated by artificial insemination while still secreting milk from previous pregnancy.
Milk from pregnant cows contains far higher hormone levels than milk from non-pregnant ones—five times the estrogen during the first two months of pregnancy, according to one study (linked above) and a whopping 33 times as much estrogen as the cow gets closer to term.
These observations were made by Harvard researcher Ganmaa Davaasambuu, an expert on milk-related illnesses. He says, “The milk we drink today is quite unlike the milk our ancestors were drinking,” during a 2006 talk at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. In a 2002 study of cancer and diet in 42 countries, Ganmaa and colleagues found that countries with the highest consumption of dairy products suffered the highest rates of prostatic and testicular cancer. (A similar study Ganmaa did in 2005 showed much the same results for breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers.)
Do these excessive hormones (estrogen, especially) have any negative impact on men’s health?
Too much of it, as it happens to be in milk from pregnant cows, doubles the risk of a stroke, is linked to prostrate cancer and type 2 diabetes, increases c-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation), and increases the risk of cardiovascular events. At a psychological level, men experience fatigue and emotional disturbances, akin to depression. Oh..and hampers your looks, if you care that is! They contribute to the enlargement of the male breasts. Read this, this and this.
So, consider this – cow milk, in the most normal form (free range, grass fed), is loaded with 59 different hormones, including estrogen, which causes early puberty, unnatural breast development etc in girls.
The milk sourced from pregnant cows closer to term (as is the norm these days) has 33 times more estrogen. And, the truth is, all cow’s milk today is obtained from pregnant cows – cows that are artificially inseminated year after year even as they’re still lactating from previous pregnancy. They are kept pregnant 300 days of the year in the modern day industrial-scale milk production.
To make matters worse, to keep the cows milking and increase milk production, the dairy farms inject them with artificial Oxytocin (a hormone banned in India under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and section 12 of Food and Drug Adulteration Prevention Act, 1960). However, Oxytocin is continued to be used illegally on dairy cows in excessive amount. Read the report published recently by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO).
Oxytocin is naturally produced in the female body during child birth and to facilitate lactation. But, in our modern era, this hormone is manufactured and used on human mothers and on cows – to stimulate labour through contractions of the uterus. As this artificial hormone is injected, pregnant human mothers start experiencing terrible labour pains. This same pain is experienced by cows too – every single day – twice a day – when the milkman injects it into their bodies before milking them dry. For two hours a day the animal is writhing in labour pains till the milk is squeezed out of her inflamed diseased teats. And, that’s why the pus and blood in cow milk….
Oh…and urea in cows milk…
In India, milkmen dissolve urea (from fertiliser shops) or earthworms in the milk to prevent it from curdling since the trucks for transporting the milk are not refrigerated. The result: every glass of milk is a cocktail composed of 1 or more of the following – pus, antibiotics, pesticides, urea, and hormones! Read more on this by Sharan.
Cow milk is no longer the perfect food they considered in ancient times and in traditional societies. The ways to source were different, the environment was something else, the lifestyle nothing like it is today. There were no pollutants, no pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics.
The cows didn’t have to go through unthinkable pain and torture to meet the human needs. They got pregnant naturally, their babies were not separated at birth. They didn’t have to go through the stress of being kept away from their calves, of not being able to caress and nurse them even when they’re tied up at a visible distance. Human needs were reasonable. There was no factory farming.
And, oh, the male calves. Back then, there was no bloody business involving the male calves. But, in today’s time, when cows are birthing a calf every year, half of those calves are male. While a fraction of these are used to pull ploughs, others are butchered. Their skin is used for leather, and their meat for local consumption and export. Calf leather comes from male calves of which India has a huge number (India is the largest leather manufacturing and exporting country in the world today). Read this article in the Hindu which sheds some eye-opening light on the inhuman business of dairy in India.
It’s time we re-looked at that same ‘food’ from different lenses – the lenses that suit the present times?
Pari has come a long, long way (she’s 8 in this pic) from when she loved to cook and eat her pasta in white sauce made with cow milk, cheese. Today, at nearly 12, she still loves her pasta dearly, but is happily making pasta sauces in various non-dairy milk like coconut milk, cashew milk. She’s infact making her own vegan cheese. Has been on a baking spree lately – various vegan and gluten-free cupcakes, puddings etc made with almond milk, tender coconut cream etc. And, she’s told me more than once “I’m realizing that it’s exciting to experiment and innovate when you don’t use cow milk. And the best part is, no one can tell. No One!” Indeed! Inconvenience (in cooking) is a small price to pay for health, innovation, creativity, diversity of food and fun! So much good stuff without causing any hurt or deprivation to any sentient being….
Read more about Pari’s food journey of going vegan. Yes, it’s her journey and not essentially ours.
And, here’s our story.
Read about the endless benefits of eating an alkalizing (opposite of acidic) diet. You won’t regret this time spent. I promise you!
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Dear blog readers – It’s been exactly eight years now that I’ve been writing on this blog! Yes, eight long years and hundreds of articles. From art, creativity and learning; to food, health, gardening, travel, sustainable and mindful living, natural birth. In our un-schooling life, as we go on introspecting, questioning and evolving, I’ve strived to share our stories and experiences with as much honesty, care and sincerity as possible.
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