Almanac

Viewpoint - January 9, 2013

Letter: Plenty of healthy substitutes for milk

A frequent bugaboo of the "fiscal cliff" debacle was the "milk cliff," the threat of milk prices doubling if Congress failed to extend dairy subsidies. Parents were forgoing other necessities, because their children "had to have milk."

Most industries would gladly give up their tax loopholes for that kind of product loyalty. But this one is totally undeserved.

Consumption of dairy products, laden with saturated fats, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs, elevates the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This is particularly critical during childhood years, when dietary flaws become lifelong addictions.

A study of 12,829 children by the Harvard Medical School found that drinking cow's milk leads to weight gain. And several proteins in cow's milk can thicken mucus secretions leading to respiratory problems in children.

Most African-Americans and Asian-Americans suffer from cramping and diarrhea because they lack the enzyme to digest lactose in cow's milk.

The good news is that green leafy vegetables and legumes supply all the calcium and proteins touted in cow's milk, without the excess calories and other yucky factors noted. Every supermarket offers a huge line of dairy-free milks, cheeses, and ice creams made from healthy nuts and grains.

This is why USDA's current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, shunt dairy (and meat) off the recommended plate of vegetables, fruits, and grains.

Cow's milk is produced for bovine — not human — babies. Let's give our kids a healthy start.

Malcolm Davidson, Encinal Avenue, Menlo Park

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