Got Proof? Lack of Evidence for Milk’s Benefits


There is no biological requirement for cow’s milk. It is nature’s perfect food but only if you are a calf.. The evidence of its benefits are overstated, and the evidence of its harm to human populations is increasing.

The white mustached celebrities paid by the Dairy Council promote the wonders of milk in their “Got Milk” ads. Scientists are increasingly asking, “Got Proof?” Our government still hasn’t caught on, in part because of the huge dairy lobby driving nutrition guidelines. When I once lamented to Senator Harkin that all we wanted to do was to make science into policy, he cocked his head and with a wry smile and said, “that would make too much sense.”

The media is also influenced heavily by advertising dollars. Once, when I was on Martha Stewart’s television show, the dairy lobby sponsored the episode, and her trainer was forced to mouth the talking points of the Dairy Council touting milk as a fabulous sports drink. Studies may show some benefit, but studies funded by the food industry show positive benefits eight times more than independently funded studies.

In a new editorial by two of the nation’s leading nutrition scientists from Harvard, Dr. David Ludwig and Dr. Walter Willett, in JAMA Pediatrics, our old assumptions about milk are being called into question. Perhaps it doesn’t help you grow strong bones, and it may increase the risk of cancer and promote weight gain.

It is bad enough that the dairy industry recently petitioned the FDA to sneak artificial sweeteners into chocolate milk. They want their “shake and eat it, too” by pushing milkshake-like flavored milk drinks into schools as a “healthier” option, even though they have 30 grams of sugar per cup. By cutting the sugar and adding artificial sweeteners to low fat or non-fat milk drinks, the idea is that they would be healthier. Except for the fact that recent studies have found that one diet drink a week increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 33 percent and a large diet drink increases the risk by 66 percent.

What about low fat milk or non-fat milk? These are the healthier options, right? Wrong.

Ludwig and Willett note that there is scant evidence that fat makes you fat, despite this commonly held mistaken belief. Reducing fat in milk reduces its ability to satisfy the appetite (which fat does) and can promote overeating and hunger. Often, the fat in the diet is replaced with sugar and refined carbohydrates, which clearly has been shown to promote obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Studies show that reducing fat in the diet, which parallels an increase in starch and refined carbohydrates in the diet, not only increases hunger but also may actually slow metabolism. In one study, Dr. Ludwig found that those who ate a low fat, higher glycemic diet burned 300 calories less a day that those who ate an identical calorie diet that was higher in fat and lower in glycemic load. For those who ate the higher fat, lower glycemic diet, that’s like exercising an extra hour a day without doing anything!

More concerning still is that, in studies of kids and adults, those who consumed low fat milk products gained more weight than those who ate the full fat whole milk products. They seemed to increase their overall intake of food because it just wasn’t as satisfying as the real thing. In fact, those who drank the most milk overall gained the most weight. It makes logical sense. Milk is designed to quickly turn a little calf into a big cow and contains over sixty different hormones, most designed to boost growth.

But shouldn’t we stick to low fat milk to reduce our intake of saturated fat? The fact is that, while your LDL or bad cholesterol goes down by reducing saturated fat in the diet, the protective cholesterol, HDL, actually goes up by eating saturated fat improving the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, which is the most important marker of your risk of heart disease. Switching out saturated fat for carbohydrates actually increased the risk of heart attack in a 12-year study of 53,544 adults. In fact, the whole story of the evil of saturated fats is in great debate. The evidence for linkage to heart disease turns out to be pretty weak indeed.

If you ate only whole foods, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains (not whole grain flour), you might be better off overall (although a recent scientific review of saturated fat dismissed the very notion that is it bad for you). But sadly, that is not what most Americans do when they switch to low fat.

The sad thing is that many schools and “healthy” beverage guidelines encourage the idea that flavored milk is better than soda and that getting kids to drink more milk by any means is a good idea. This is dangerously misguided.

There are 27 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of Coca Cola and a whopping 30 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of Nestlé Chocolate Milk. Sugar is sugar and drives obesity and diabetes. It is not a good way to get kids to drink milk.

But that begs the bigger question. Do kids need milk? Is milk necessary for healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis? The data are clear, but our government polices don’t reflect the science.

Dairy and milk products do not promote healthy bones. In a large meta-analysis, milk did not reduce risk of fractures. Other studies have shown it can increase fracture rates. And the countries with the lowest milk consumption have the lowest risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Calcium is not all it’s cracked up to be. Studies show that higher calcium intakes are actually associated with higher risk of fracture.

Milk may not grow strong bones, but it does seem to grow cancer cells. Milk increases the hormone called IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor, one that is like Miracle-Gro for cancer cells.  Dairy products have been linked to prostate cancer. And cows are milked while pregnant (yes, even organic cows), filling milk with loads of reproductive and potentially cancer-causing hormones.

There are other problems with milk, too. It increases the risk of type 1 diabetes. Dairy is a well-known cause of acne. And of course, dairy causes millions around the world (75 percent of the population) to suffer digestive distress because of lactose intolerance. It causes intestinal bleeding in 40 percent of infants leading to iron deficiency. Allergy, asthma, and eczema all may be triggered by dairy consumption.

The US Department of Agriculture’s new My Plate initiative recommends three cups a day of milk for everyone! If you are two to nine years old, you get away with only two to two and a half cups. And the “key consumer message” is to switch to 1% or non-fat versions.

There is absolutely no biological requirement for milk, and the evidence for low fat milk is lacking, along with the bone benefits. The dairy lobby has its tentacles deep in the US Department of Agriculture. One scientist friend who advises the government on food policy confided to me that when he protested that there was no evidence for the government’s recommendations that we all drink three glasses of milk a day and that, in fact, it may be harmful, he was patronized with a “yes, we know, but the dairy lobby makes it difficult to make science into policy.”

Let’s just forget the science and spend taxpayer’s dollars to promote foods that we know are harmful, because money runs politics. To heck with the health of our citizens.

Bottom line: Milk is not nature’s perfect food unless you are a calf and should not be consumed in large quantities by most people, because it can promote weight gain, cancer, and even cause osteoporosis. Write to your congressmen to encourage them to support changes to our food and farm bill policies that shape our nutritional guidelines and make them evidence based. The answer to the question, “Got Proof?” Heck no!

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Do you think we need to drink milk to be healthy?

Do you agree that getting kids to drink more milk is a good idea?

Have you recently cut dairy from your diet, and if so, do you feel better?

What are some good dairy alternatives that you’ve discovered?

To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD

55 Responses to Got Proof? Lack of Evidence for Milk’s Benefits

  1. penelope July 7, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    Your points on drinking cows milk are well reasoned. However, when you cite the number that 75% of the world population cannot tolerate lactose, you ignore the fact that there are groups of Americans, with European ancestry who can digest it and are a much larger percentage of the US population than 25%.

    Also, when you talk about alternatives to “dairy”, you are not being clear enough. Cows milk may not provide any particular nutrients to humans but butter, ghee, kefir, yoghurt and real cheese are all nourishing whole foods for more than 25% of the population who can “tolerate” drinking cows milk. All the manufactured milk alternatives, from rice milk to soy milk to nut milks are all processed, contain PUFA, carageenan, guar gums, sugar and other dubious ingredients.

    I have been cows milk free for 25 years (for me its the casein not the lactose). Over this time I have from time to time eaten goats cheese and other cow diary products, but have for the large part, been dairy free. I have serious autoimmune disease and my ancestors are not all European. If I could, I would love to include good quality dairy products in my diet.

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! People are already suffering from poor nutritional advice for the past 50 years. Dr Hyman, we rely on you to reverse that trend, at least in your own writing.

    • Jay July 7, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      Hi Penelope,

      So you agree with the article, but disagree with the statistical data relating to the percentage of those who are lactose intolerant?

      I believe you missed the entire point of the article, which I will do my best to summarize. The information provided to us regarding the health benefits of drinking milk is based more on marketing than it is on reality. The dairy industry lobby has sold us on the health benefits of drinking cows milk, however scientific studies have clearly shown the opposite is true.

      And sadly, the government’s food policy is influenced by the dairy industry lobbying, not by the scientific proof detailing the health risks associated with consuming milk.

      I failed to see anything in this article that comes anywhere close to Dr. Hyman throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Additionally, the point of the article, in my humble opinion, was not focused on offering alternatives and therefore your suggestion he was not clear enough is confusing.

      Finally, I am equally confused by your own admission you have been cows milk free for 25 years and have serious autoimmune disease, yet you would love to include good quality dairy products into your diet.

      So are you saying you disagree with the points made by Dr. Hyman in the article? You haven’t had cows milk in 25 years, you suffer from an autoimmune disease and yet you would love to consume dairy products.

      Again, in my humble opinion, the article provided me with “real” information regarding the health issues associated with consuming milk. It helped separate fact from marketing fiction. It is exactly this kind of factual information the general public needs to make informed decisions about their health.

      Now if only our government could make the same informed decisions based on scientific proof for the benefit of the consumer, instead of decisions based on the industry lobby, we just might get a better handle on diseases such as Type II Diabetes.

  2. Margot July 7, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    According the the ancient tradition of Ayurveda milk (cow’s milk) isa Rasayana, something which ” which negates old age and disease.” In another translation, a Rasayana is described as “that which enters the essence”, promoting vigor and healthand thus preserves health and longevity. But only if milk is boiled before consumption and taken in moderation. Also, some spices like cardamom, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, saffron which are added to it while it is cooking make milk more easy to digest. Milk should always be taken alone with maybe another sweet taste (liek e.g. cereals), but never together with what is considered a salty, bitter, astringent or sour taste. Milk cooked with dates is okay. Hot cooked milk with honey is bad as honey must never be heates over body temperature. It becomes poisonous and can create longterm problems (Neurological, skin etc. etc.) And no milk with a cheese bread e.g. as cheese is considered sour and no milk with meals! You will have to wait for at least half an hour. (It’s different with yellos or rice pudding or cheese like panir or yoghurt – they CAN be taken with meals).

    Also, cows must NEVER be injected with hormones and should be fed only pure food, no GMOs, no ground up fish and other non-vegan stuff.

    The type of food the cow eats is of great importance. It should be of the
    freshest origin, which in turn produces the highest quality milk, i.e. non-contaminated, fresh grasses and barley. Barley has a kairshna value which means it will not create heaviness. Cows that eat wheat (non GMO!) create milk that is a little heavy to digest and too much of this milk can increase congestion.

    Non-organic milk sold in grocery stores may be many weeks old and is filled with antibiotics and hormones, and the process of homogenization, which includes removing fat, inserting preservatives and vitamins, depletes the quality of the milk. Also, cows are often overmilked and locked up without the freedom of grazing. The end result is that the milk is difficult to digest and does not have much benefit for our health, and in
    fact, is harmful by clogging the channels of the body called shrotas.
    Clearly, we are also ingesting the antibiotics and hormones which, with regular
    consumption, may lower our immunity and cause further imbalances.

    Milk is a good source of blood tissue, gives stamina, lubricates the channels,
    pacifies both vata and pitta, enhances reproductive tissue, enhances ojas
    (finest by-product of digestion in the body), helps to rid impurities from the
    blood and the tissues and creates pure rasa (bone) tissue. It also creates
    internal smoothness and suppleness that helps to lubricate the channels that
    carry out excess doshas and malas (waste). Regular use of milk has an
    anti-aging affect that enhances immunity against diseases. If milk is not
    prepared or taken properly, it can clog the channels.”

    Milk greatly enhances ojas, increases healthy tissues, intelligence, and
    happiness.Food which the body can easily
    handle such as sweet pears or warm milk greatly enhances reproductive tissue
    and increases ojas (the fighest product of digestion that increases immunity and longevity). Ojas and reproductive tissue support the health of other
    tissues such as muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow, blood, and blood plasma. Milk is said to produce “instant ojas” on all levels, whereas with
    other types of food which produce ojas it takes 30 to 40 days to produce ojas.

    If digestive fire or digestion is low, milk may cause over lubrication which may result
    in a stuffy nose. It is then best to dilute the milk by using 50% boiled water
    and 50% boiled milk along with one or more of the spices mentioned above. Both
    growing children and adults should have at least 2 cups of milk per day. There
    should not be a weight gain problem if you dilute the milk with water and add

    Happy cows produce happy, intelligent milk, and from drinking such milk people who have no allergy against milk will enjoy more happiness. It should be organic, non-homogenized milk from cows, well tended.

    • Jody Bisz July 7, 2013 at 9:45 am #

      I say amen to Margot’s reply. I have been on a great program through Maximized Living for 3 years & am very healthy because of it. Raw milk & raw cheese allowed. No pasturized, homogenized milk! Their program includes elimination of sugar, white flour & transfats, but promotes eating good fat such as raw nuts & seeds, olive oil,, coconut oil, hemp oil, butter, almond butter, avocado, coconut, and protein: beef from grass fed cows, chicken & turkey, & fish, like salmon, canned sardines, etc, eggs, beans, full fat plain yogurt, plus many vegetables, including kale, broccoli, garlic, onions, lettuce, celery, etc, blueberries, spices & herbs, such as ginger. Their program consists of chiropractic adjustments, Traction, Specific exercises to help the spine & body to stay in alignment, & have kept me square dancing & fit. I read everything you write, Dr. Hyman & know you are wise in many health ideas, but I will keep drinking raw milk.

    • Katherine August 11, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

      Thank you. I am a patient of Dr. Hyman. I have a serious auto-immune disease which has drastically improved since visiting The Ultrawellness Center. I ‘got milk’ & got sick. And am happy to stay away from it.

  3. Mary July 7, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    I have heard the arguments against milk from Dr. Colin Campbell at Cornell. I know that milk is not needed in an adult’s diet. However, I love milk products! I went gluten free 15 years ago and my health has been GREAT since then. I am almost 66 years old and have no complaints though dozens of complaints disappeared. I take no medications and weigh only 10 lb. more than my high school graduation weight . A prediabetic glucose tolerance test pattern now comes out completely normal. The only pills I take are vitamins.

    I would much rather do without wheat products than milk products. I make my own yogurt from grass fed hormone free milk for the probiotic benefits and love all kinds of cheeses. Gluten free bread as bad as it is (but much better today thanks to Udi and Rudi) is much better than imitation cheese! I’m so glad that I can continue to enjoy some of my favorite things- a grilled cheese sandwich, cheese pizza, cheese and crackers, etc.,- life is good!

    In defense of your argument, the need to go gluten free made me realize, not being able to eat all the cakes, cookies and donuts that were presented in the workplace and church coffee hours, that I didn’t need them and a gluten free diet wasn’t difficult as soon as I realized that a person can live quite well on a diet of meat, fruits and vegetables. But cheese adds deliciousnous to the diet and I am grateful to be able to have it. I don’t know if I’d feel better without it because then I would truly feel deprived.

    • Pat Farrell April 1, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

      Try Canyon Bakehouse GF bread. Awesome! I ate Udi’s and couldn’t make a sandwich without it falling apart. I eat butter and yogurt (Mountain High & add organic Strawberry jelly). After reading this, I think I will test a couple of weeks without any Sonic soft serve ice cream to see if a rash (which almost disappeared after I discontinued gluten about 6 years ago) will finally disappear completely.

  4. Zachary Taylor July 7, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    It should be pointed out that this excellent post is mostly about industrial processed milk. It says nothing about fresh, raw milk from grass-fed animals.

    Raw cow and goat milk along with cultured dairy products are traditional foods prized by many cultures. The problem for most people isn’t really the milk, it’s the production and processing of milk – grain-feeding, hormone-injecting, pasteurizing, and homogenizing.

    As for lactose intolerance, raw milks contain natural lactase – the enzyme needed to break it down. Harvard has also completed a study that, when published (if they publish – it’s disappeared from their site) will show that most “dairy intolerant” people are actually “pasteurization intolerant” because pasteurization destroys the natural lactase enzyme.
    It’s quite possible that humans don’t have the lactase enzyme because dairy already contained it — the human body is pretty smart and not going to produce things that are readily present in the diet.

  5. Jay July 7, 2013 at 10:34 am #


    Actually, Dr. Hyman addressed organic milk by saying…

    “And cows are milked while pregnant (yes, even organic cows), filling milk with loads of reproductive and potentially cancer-causing hormones.”

    Cancer causing hormones trumps lactose intolerance for me. Just curious, do you think it’s possible that Harvard removed the study because there was an issue with it?

    I’m not disagreeing just to disagree. But I do find it interesting that most of the comments so far seem to disagree in some way with the points Dr. Hyman was making in the article. Not to say we should not have our own opinions/beliefs and share them. It’s just funny to me that we’re on Dr. Hyman’s mailing list, I assume because we find the information he provides to be of value. Then, based on the posts so far, we read it and disagree with it.

    There is a mention of ancient cultures, disagreement on a statistic that was not important to the point being made, and the all important point that happy cows produce happy, intelligent milk – and those that drink the happy cow milk will make those who have milk allergies enjoy more happiness.

    I must have missed the study on happy cows. How exactly do we know a cow is happy or sad? Can we offer therapy to the sad cows so they can become happy cows? Are there any cow therapists out there?

    So that’s it? The key to health benefits of drinking cow milk all comes down to happy cows. I stand corrected. I thought the issue was the dairy lobby having too great an influence on how our government decides food policy as it relates to milk. I totally overlooked the fact that happy cows are the real solution.

    It’s difficult enough for the average consumer to discern fact from marketing fiction when it comes to our health and healthy food choices. But when you toss in those who believe the solution is a happy cow, it makes me want to lie down in the fetal position and pretend I never read past Dr. Hyman’s article.

    In fact, that’s a great personal lesson for me. Thank you Dr. Hyman for providing me with factual information that I can use to make better decisions for me and my family.

    • Zachary Taylor July 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

      Jay – I’m not referring to organic milk. Organic milk is really not much different, and I agree with you on that.

      I’m referring to fresh raw milk. The local grass-fed farm I own a share of is seasonal only. The cows are not milked while pregnant, only when naturally producing for about 8 months out of the year.

      This sort of production and traditional feeding of their species-specific diet is extremely health-promoting and people have been enjoying the benefits for 10,000+ years from the naturally occurring immunoglobulins, enzymes, nutrients and proteins.

      • Jenn Mears July 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

        No–a cow does not have to be pregnant to produce milk. She must have calved at least once to start milk production–but please stop to think about why she continues to produce milk—-to feed her CALF. Not to feed a human. So the calves are usually “removed” from the mother so the WE can have her milk. The who process is shameful from an animal rights perspective, irregardless of whether you drink milk raw, pasteurized, homogenized etc. No other mammal in the world steals milk from another species.

        Prior to modern animal farming, our ancestors survived on human milk, then went on to live life milk free–like every other mammal in this world. We don’t need it. We want it——let’s be clear on that issue. If we would take the time to eat whole foods (milk excluded), we could get all the nutrition we need, and would in fact, be in better health than most of us are today.

        Though others have mentioned it in this post, I would encourage all who question the concerns raised by Dr. Hyman to read T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study”, and his most recent book “Whole”. These will give you the basis for sound scientific research highlighting the deleterious effects that casein (milk protein) has on our health; and his book “Whole” provides a very eye-opening diatribe about how our U.S. Dept of Agriculture is bedded down with the dairy lobby, and we are the ones paying for their improprieties with our wealth and health.

        I say a huge THANK YOU to Dr. Hyman for sounding the alarm on dairy, when so many others are afraid to do so, lest they risk offending the dairy lobby and its supporters.

    • Lori October 12, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

      [“And cows are milked while pregnant (yes, even organic cows), filling milk with loads of reproductive and potentially cancer-causing hormones.”]

      I’m wondering if this would also suggest that a human mother who tandem nursed was feeding her older child “loads of reproductive and cancer-causing hormones.”

      This article also states… “And the countries with the lowest milk consumption have the lowest risk of osteoporosis and fractures.”

      Are there other possibilities that could correlate? Have the studies showing fluoridation of water corresponding to higher incidence of osteoporosis and bone fracture been taken into account? Perhaps the countries with the lowest consumption of milk also drink non-flouridated water.

      Just thinking.

  6. AK July 7, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    I stopped consuming dairy products years ago. I no longer suffer from acne, I’ve lost weight, and I no longer experience bloating or puffiness in my face. One day, I decided to try an experiment and reintroduced dairy into my diet. I made no other changes and only added low fat organic milk and cheese. Within two days, I had three huge pimples on my face. Now I suppose you could argue that it had to do with the products not being grass fed. But that brings up a larger issue. Why are human beings consuming food meant for infants? And not just any infants, but those of another species. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I’d love to go back in time and meet the person who first thought of drinking cow’s milk. Like all mammals, humans produce milk to feed their offspring. But eventually those children grow and develop the ability to process solid food. Anytime I see an adult drinking a glass of milk now, I can’t help but roll my eyes. A grown man drinking baby food meant for cows?

    This is how brainwashed humans have become. We let private industry tell us what is and isn’t food. Take bread for example. What is that? I’ve never seen bread grow on a tree, sprout up from the ground, swim, fly, or walk on land. It doesn’t exist in nature and yet we call it food. No wonder Americans are so sick. We eat fake foods and food meant for the infants of other species.

    • Irina July 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      I am with AK. Seriously, seeing a grown woman/man still suckling on the mother’s breast would weird anybody out. But suckling on some other animals breast? Eeewww.

      The nice packaging does not take away from the fact that it is it coming from another animal’s boob.

      Another fact – lactose intolerance is not some kind of disorder. It’s a normal state for an adult individual. Lactose production progressively declines in human beings and should be at it’s minimum at 5 -6 year of age.

      The ones who “force feed” themselves milk can make body struggle and keep producing lactose (our bodies are wonderful), but it is not natural. The ones who’s body outright refuses are called “lactose intolerant”.

      I understand that in the times of famine, when resources were scarce, people found that drinking milk of the animals will help them survive. There were many other survival things implemented (like eating rats), but that does not mean we should keep on doing that.

      Milk is not bad per say, but – at the right age and from the right species (composition of cow’s milk is vastly different from human milk – it is designed to make an 800lbs animal with a relatively small brain out of a little calf in less than a year, so fat to protein ratio and types of fat are all directed at that).

    • Chantelle July 8, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Thanks for your response AK… but it could be that YOU have a particular intolerance to milk. Some people are able to tolerate it very well, including my 105 year old grandma – who has suffered from no degenerative disease and is in wonderful health physically and spiritually, AND who drank milk all her life directly from the cow :-)).

      Dr Hyman is arming us with information so that we can make the best choices for ourselves, vs listening to the media companies, etc. But ultimately it comes down to us… we need to listen to our bodies so that we can understand the foods that work best for it. We are all different in how we metabolize different foods. From your response, I would def suggest that you stay away from dairy! All the best.


      • Cat October 13, 2013 at 12:37 am #

        Thank you for just your “common sense”. Everything is NOT the same for everyone and many have had a little cheese or butter or milk and lived good healthy lives. I honor each persons ability to choose what is best for their body and ask that people allow the same for others.

    • Laurel Johnson July 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

      Good job AK, I totally agree bread AND milk gave them both up and feels so much better physically than when I was eating and drinking it. You don’t realize how much better you will feel till you give up those things that are poisoning you!

  7. Larry Manter July 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I tend to think my question might have been answered by reading the posts in response to the article. My question was ‘Why, if milk is bad for you is it almost universally produced by mothers of virtually all species?’. The answers seem to be that it’s a young person’s need (baby to a couple of years old maybe) and not an old person’s and I can kind of understand that. Another answer appears to be that raw milk is actually good for people but homogenized and pasteurized milk has had, and this is my assumption, most or all of the nutritional value removed by these processes. I can actually believe that but I would imagine that pasteurization is a ‘necessary evil’. My, admittedly limited, understanding of homogenization is that it’s a completely mechanical process and is, therefore, not likely to kill or removed anything that is actually healthy. I do have a question tho. How can we get raw milk that doesn’t have all sorts of nasty bacteria (which was the reason for pasteurization in the first place).

    • Zachary Taylor July 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

      Larry – This is where I began my journey toward seasonally-produced local grass-fed raw milk. The question is – if people have been drinking raw milk for centuries, why did we suddenly need pasteurization?

      One reason is that as people began moving to cities, cows began to be penned, kept in cities, fed corn and corn by-products, and were in other ways kept in un-natural filthy conditions. People started dying both from the milk they produced and from the diseases on their udders. It’s another example of humans changing food to fit our lifestyle rather than the other way around.

      Great book on the subject – “The Untold Story of Milk” by Ron Schmid.

      • Jenn Mears July 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

        Again, I would turn your point back on you. Drinking another animals milk is just another way that humans have changed food to fit our lifestyle.

        We all have our beliefs. Sometimes we simply need to stop and rethink where they stem from.

        • Zachary Taylor July 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

          You could really say that about anything — eating another animal’s flesh, eating their eggs. It’s not changing food to fit our lifestyle, it’s just eating real food. You wouldn’t say chickens produce eggs for us would you? By your logic we shouldn’t eat anything really because it wasn’t produced particularly for us.

          Just because we may be the only species to drink the milk of another species, and therefore it’s bad, is no argument. There’s lot of things we do that no other species does.

          • Irina July 7, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

            Not really the same – flesh eating is very popular among our fellow carnivores in the wild.

            However, adult animals do not suckle their mothers, period.

            Even adult cats, if introduced milk later in life will look at you with “you want me to drink THAT?”

      • Jan Gordon October 13, 2013 at 12:37 am #

        I read that the main risk of contamination was from fecal matter and other contaminants being on the utters or blowing into the milk. I have never seen for myself how these small farms with few cows are taken care of and milked. If this can’t be monitored, how can you be sure that the product you are getting is safe? I think that this is what the concern is. Perhaps if you have your own cow and know that it is free-range, grass fed, is a healthy cow, and milking is done safely, you can be 99% sure you are ingesting a good product. Trouble is, most of us don’t have our own cows or a place to graze them, or would know how to take car of them if they were sick, or even know if they were sick. The argument that milk was intended for calves only is kind of lame, but it is as most people looking for a reason why they won’t, don’t consume milk, to find some reason that defies all reason to spout out. I do think that Dr. Hyman presents a scientific reason for not consuming milk. I also, might note that Dr. Hyman eats raw eggs. He is not Vegan. He does not say that he uses goat cheese or drinks goat milk, nor does he say he eats any dairy products, does he?

  8. Nora Gluck July 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    What do you think about goat’s milk and sheep’s milk yogurt?

  9. Nora Gluck July 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    I do not use dairy products but am wondering what your thoughts are regarding goat’s and sheep’s milk yogurt.

    • Zachary Taylor July 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      The people of Ikaria, Greece are some of the longest living people in the world and some have traced it back to their regular intake of both their raw goat’s milk and wine.

    • Zachary Taylor July 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Also, many who have a hard time with raw cow dairy do well on raw goat or sheep milk. It must come from a local producer who raises the animals traditionally, on their species-specific diet, and does regular testing.

      • Jamie July 9, 2013 at 11:30 am #

        When I was diagnosed with a Casein intolerance (cows milk protein) I removed it from my diet and the results were amazing! My blood sugar came down and the stomach ailments subsided. I can, however, indulge in goat and sheep’s milk products without difficulty. Just wish I could still eat icecream……so disappointing! Taking digestive enzymes do help with the digestion of these proteins and help to prevent the negative effects.

  10. tamarque July 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    I am glad to see that some people raised the question of differences between organic and chemically raised animals. There is a big difference between milk from grass fed, organically raised animals and those raised with grain diets, abs, hormones, and GE feed.
    Let’s not forget the increased use of GE corn and now/soon alfalfa for animal feed.

    My understanding is the argument against saturated fats was always bogus. When transfats got their deserved bad rep, it was decided to throw in saturated fats into the argument as well. No logic, only money involved.

    I get nuts reading articles like this because they do no focus on the real differences between milk products based on how the animal was raised. And even tho this article makes mention, it is only in passing and then is linked to milking while cows are highly hormonal. There is a bad and erroneous milk bias working in this article.

    As for goat or sheep milk, the wisdom is that it is much closer to human milk with protein size closer to ours. One of the things with cow milk is the size of the protein molecule which is much harder for people to digest.

    Fortunately, or not, I seem to have a cast iron system with no reaction to dairy products and I love cheeses. Altho I look for raw milk and/or locally made cheese these days. While limited in varieties availabe, there are still quite a few to keep me in good cheeses. Just bought some Montesio goat cheese from a local goat farmer. Cheese is delicious and the goats adorable. Someone else makes Provolone from local cow milk but can never get a really clear reading on how the cows are raised. I know they graze in summer, but what about the rest of the picture?

    Some cheeses are one of the few sources of Vit K2, like Gouda. Others provide good probiotics, if made with that in mind. Commercial products with sugar jams in them are not what I refer to.

    Milk is mucous forming in the system which is one reason to eliminate it generally, and specifically if you have a cold or are trying detox. It is also acidic in the body so there needs to be consciousness to eat lots of veggies and nuts/seeds.

    I like many of Mark Hyman’s articles, but sometimes there is a bias that is built in and we need to be aware of that

  11. Heather July 8, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    I became lactose intolerant 2 years ago and am NOT happy or better because of it. I’ve had to take evening primrose supplements because my PMS and cramps got worse with so much less calcium in my diet, and eventually had to add calcium supplements because of muscle cramping. I can still eat yogurt, but really only get one serving a day.

    I wish I felt confident about the safety of raw milk. I live in Minneapolis, MN so I don’t know any farmers. Last year they took a MN farmer to jail, still screaming “I’m innocent!” even though the Salmonella type that hospitalized a couple adults and killed a 2 year old that drank his raw milk was found on his equipment. I’d love to do raw milk, but I’m also a huge fan of food safety. Anyone out there feel safe with their source of raw milk? How do you know if your farmer does regular infection testing?

    • lawrenanne July 8, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      How about eating sardines or kale for calcium?

    • jerrie August 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm #


      I don’t think you can ever be 100% sure about the safety of raw milk – and I say that as a back-yard dairy goat farmer. I milk my own goats and consume the milk raw. I also give the milk to my (very healthy) teen-age kids.

      I believe the biggest risk comes when you introduce potential sources of cross-contamination. For example, I won’t board horse on my place – even on a temporary basis because horses are a source of e-coli. I don’t have cows. I keep my chickens completely separate – because they could be a source of salmonella.

      However, I would never claim there is no risk. I don’t sell my milk. When I have excess, I occasionally give it away – but only to people I trust. I don’t want someone taking my milk and feeding it raw to a 2-year-old or to a person with a compromised immune system.

      If you want to feel comfortable about your milk, get a couple of goats! Pay close attention to sanitation. Milk by hand in a closed room where the wind can’t kick up contaminated dust that could then settle in your milk bucket. It still isn’t risk free – but you have much more control over the risk factors. I love my goats and I love the milk – but I worry about what I consider blind enthusiasm for a product that does have the potential to be harmful.

  12. Sue Westwind July 9, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    It’s too bad that nowhere has been mentioned the opiate effect of casomorphins, those messed-up peptides that get into the bloodstream due the leaky gut problems most of us have (given all the toxins especially repeated antibiotic use). The issue here, I submit respectfully, with all the dissenters is that the creamy smooth mommy-reminiscent HIGH of dairy products is literally addictive. Here is a discussion of this: Don’t take offense, dissenters: IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.

  13. Sharon Mitchell August 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    I stopped dairy, eggs, soy, corn, sugar and peanuts several months ago following the JJ Virgin diet. I have been gluten free since testing positive for sensitivity to it 6 years ago. The first thing I noticed was the pain in my body, diagnosed as fibromyalgia, decreased markedly. had been on a supplement protocol that helped but after removing these foods (some of which I ate daily), I don’t even need the supplements. I also used to experience migraines that twice caused hospitalization. Since changing my eating, I have only had a migraine when I have mistakenly eaten one of these food groups.

    I love Dr. Hyman’s approach to health!

  14. CJ McGrath August 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    I am a firm believer… everything in moderation.

  15. Kevin September 6, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    These studies are being done on milk that has been pasteurized and homogenized, unnatural vitamins added from cows that have been fed steroids and other drugs that reduce their life expectancy to three years for the sake of output. And you call this a study on the benefits of milk?

    What do you think homogenized milk does to a body? The fat is pulverized into such small pieces that it will go into your bloodstream that normal milk fat would not. Pasteurized milk? Do a study on that and find out what has been removed from the milk besides vitamins. Do a study on the effect of steroids and assorted drugs to prevent somatic cell problems or infection.

    This is not a milk study, this is a study of man’s impact on milk.

    Do a study on raw, organic milk. Then do your study on the milk you speak of here. Do a study of the impact of milk from the GMO grains and other garbage these animals are fed, and the impact it has on people with a gluten intolerance or allergies.

    Maybe these so called scientists should visit a farm for once in their lives; visit an organic dairy; visit a homesteader farm and then visit a typical >100 cow dairy and see how they do things. You might just be surprised.

  16. Jo September 6, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    I was a volunteer breastfeeding counselor for six years, and during that time I recall reading a book “Milk, Money and Madness” which dovetails with the points you make in your article. One of the things that shocked me was how a product like cow’s milk, which is so dissimilar from human milk, is processed and manipulated in an attempt to duplicate human milk. Then the production of soybeans was also diverted to the same process, and neither cow’s milk nor soybeans can match the qualities of human milk. Fascinating read.

  17. Brigitte October 12, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    This household now uses ‘homemade’ milk from Almonds – for breakfast, in drinks and for cooking. We also use the almond pulp, once dried as a substitute for flour in cakes/breads/muffins. No artifical flavourings, guar gum, preservates to be seen…

  18. EM October 12, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

    I’m an American raised on milk, but about a year ago I moved to South Korea where milk and other dairy products like cheese and ice cream are both expensive and not commonly-used in Korean foods. Having suffered from cystic acne most of my teens and young-adulthood, and having always suffered from light to severe stomach pains after eating foods made with dairy, I took the opportunity of living in a culture where dairy is hard to come by to just cut it out of my diet completely. What a difference! My acne is completely gone–completely, I’ve lost weight, and I don’t feel sluggish after meals. On occasion (maybe once or twice a week), I’ll let myself have a treat of something made from dairy, but it’s a treat–a small one–and not a daily occurrence. It’s hard to cut out dairy in a dairy-based society, but it is worth it if you can!!

  19. Annette October 12, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    I would like to know what Dr Hyman thinks about goats milk its products?

  20. Jasmine October 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    Hi Dr. Hyman,

    Loved this post! I wish more doctors also went on science instead of policy/politics. I recently went to a doctor in Australia for a pap smear and during small talk mentioned I was a vegetarian. She launched into a huge rant about not getting enough iron and B12 (which the previous blood tests on my record showed me to have excellent levels of) and then went on and on about how not eating dairy products meant that osteoporosis was inevitable. She told me that sesame and kale were ‘weak’ excuses for calcium intake and bullied me to the point that I walked out with a list of appropriate diet foods which alongside dairy included fortified processed products. I am fit, at a healthy weight and wasn’t even going to her for nutritional advice! I was in tears with frustration. I run a health website and have done a lot of research and she still reduced me to tears. It makes me sad for others who try to transition to a healthy lifestyle and seek advice from people who don’t consider evidence important. :(

  21. Jordan Van Voast October 12, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    Thanks for an excellent article. We are all vegans in our family, based on ethical values foremost, but also science and a dose of common sense. Of course, it is absurd, and cruel what humans do to justify our commercial food production system which is geared towards profit, indoctrination and conditioned ignorance. Even when good science points out the truth, we find ways to justify our personal food religion, perhaps even ignoring personal health challenges we have brought on ourselves. To satisfy the vestiges of milk conditioning in our family, we make almond milk in a blender, soaked overnight to pre-sprout, and then flavored with a touch of vanilla and sometimes a small amount of maple syrup or brown rice sweetener.

    My daughter is ten and she is one of the healthiest kids in her 5th grade class. And, I’ve noted lately that many other young girls in her class (there is only one other vegan), seem to have already entered puberty (some showing the beginnings of breast development as early as age 8), whereas my daughter is showing no signs of that yet – which as I understand, bodes well for her risk of developing cancer later in life. The less estrogen the better.

  22. Lina October 13, 2013 at 1:26 am #

    I have been waiting for this article! Thanks!

  23. Sue Crawford October 13, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    After 20 years of not eating dairy due to lactose intolerance, we purchased a farm share and I started experimenting with raw dairy products. I was delighted to find that I could digest raw milk without any issues, and have been making my own yogurt, butter, and cheese. Whereas I completely agree with Dr. Hyman’s critique of our modern-day industrialized dairy frankenfoods, I have found raw milk to be a wonderful addition to my diet. Our farm does not take the calves away from the mothers until grown, gives them plenty of room to roam and grass to eat. I cannot see any downside to this ages-old, traditional way of living and eating.

  24. Mary-Ellen Landry November 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    Have any of you read The China Study? This is not about arguing digestion, tolerance, and defending our choices, this is about casein, the protein in cow’s milk that is really bad for you- period. It is not added or extracted or or or, it is the cow’s natural production of a protein to feed her calf. Her species. This is about your health and the overwhelming evidence that we should not be consuming milk for our health- bones, diabetes, CV disease, and most powerfully- cancer. T. Colin Campbell is the leader of his generation. I highly recommend his book.

  25. Zuma Game January 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Beautiful article there. Very useful and informative. Keep up with the good work.

  26. Sue Crawford January 12, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Dr Hyman, you do your readers a huge disservice by not making a distinction between pasteurized milk (even organic) and raw milk from pasture-fed cows (who are NOT milked while pregnant if done right). Please educate yourself if you are going to disseminate information like you are an expert. You clearly are not an expert here.

  27. Delanie April 12, 2014 at 12:29 am #

    This research is based on cow’s eating corn. Please read the research found in Weston A. Price’s book, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” This research was done in early 1900’s on secluded peoples of many races from around the world, some included dairy and some did not. Depending on the ancestry, their diets varied in how much dairy it included and what species of milk, but those who did were pre-industrialization, pre-pasteurization, and pre-homogenization. You will not find any of the heart disease and diabetes in the secluded groups who consumed milk, whether from goat or cow. But all of it was raw and grass-fed. NO GRAIN feeding. No heating. No processing. No confinement, but plenty of grass.

    I lowered my consumption of commercial milk for all my adult life and raised my children with minimal amounts, because of what the industry was doing to it. I now buy RAW milk and cream from a small local farm for our whole family, including our five children. A curious thing is that my teenage son’s asthma attacks, which he’s had his whole life, have decreased since upping his consumption of this raw milk. Which follows the research that RAW unprocessed milk can help build children’s resistance to allergens.

    The research presented appears to point out the dangers of the industrial model and what the dairy industry has done to the milk and the dangerous health problems it has created. I do not see any research here on raw grass-fed milk. Each ancestry is different and therefore our bodies handle things differently. Someone can extol the benefits of mangoes and their nutritional value all they want, but if I’m allergic to them, then my body simply can’t handle them.

    I feel better since I’ve started consuming raw cow’s milk. If you try raw grass-fed cow’s milk and feel better, then go for it. If you feel better with goat, go for it. If neither feels right, then avoid both. But under no circumstances consume pasteurized, industrialized milk from any animal. I don’t even purchase the “organic” because it doesn’t change the fact that they’re eating corn (even if non-GMO), which creates numerous chemical changes in the cow’s body and milk nutrition. Biologically, cows were created to eat grass. When they do, they are healthy and produce healthy milk. Isn’t that the same thing that Dr. Hyman is trying to promote for us humans? Getting away from the junk diet and back to what’s natural? When we eat natural, we are naturally healthy. So it goes for the cow.

  28. Chris April 25, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    Dear Dr. Hyman,

    I greatly appreciate the education you are providing for us and have recently learned a ton from your resources.

    Could you please address RAW cow and goat milk? It seems the evidence is mounting that the *pasteurization* of milk is the real problem.

    Much thanks,

  29. Michelle June 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    I suffer from an autoimmune disorder, Hashimotos Thyroiditis. There is very little research done on diet for those like me and I have been trying desperately to improve my overall health and well being. After having ankle surgery two years ago, my very active lifestyle has changed, something key to anyone suffering from an autoimmune. I have not felt my best and began looking at what else I could do. An acquaintance recommended a specific diet to try and I am in my first week. I have cut out refined sugars, most dairy (I do love cheese, but I am limiting it) and carb loaded things like breads and processed grains. I am curious as to if I can have milk and if so, is there really any that is good to have?

    • Profile photo of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman July 30, 2014 at 2:05 am #

      Hi Michelle — The most important food to omit with Hashimoto’s tends to be gluten. The research on gluten avoidance and thyroid disease specifically is quite positive. Dr. Hyman has seen great improvement in decreasing TPO Antibodies when patients remove gluten, sugar and dairy. Because dairy is inflammatory and activates the immune system, we strongly suggest you avoid cows milk and relevant product completely. If you need to taper off dairy you may have better outcomes using sheep or goats milks. Ultimately, your goal is to see food as inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. As best you can, aim for an anti-inflammatory diet 90% of the time. Please see Dr. Hyman’s nutrition coaching portal for a personalized plan to help you get the appropriate 1:1 care for Hashimoto’s thyrioditis.

  30. Eulah September 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Right here is the perfect website for everyone who wishes to understand this
    topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally
    will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a
    topic that has been written about for many years. Great stuff,
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  31. Richard October 8, 2014 at 2:25 am #

    It appears to me that for at least the next 100 hundred years we will still be looking for proof on many of these items. The safest route is to follow the lead of the long-living cultures which made it on little meat, dairy, eggs or processed foods. Some consumed a lot of whole grains but they all consumed at least 80% of their calories from whole plant-based foods….there is a message there!


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