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Do children need lots of milk, or any, in their diets?
A doctor examines concerns about milk, and questions whether it should be a mainstay in children's diets.

Date published: 3/25/2011

There are two problems with our eating habits: Not only are our metabolisms still in the Stone Age, but we continue to be dominated by an immigrant attitude toward eating.

Our Stone Age metabolisms hoard sugars and fats. But we also still seem to be stuck in that “eat as much of the richest, most nutritious food you can find because tomorrow there may be none” mentality.

This was understandable in years gone by when immigrants came to the U.S. from parts of the world subject to famine. But this mentality, like our metabolism, is totally inappropriate now. Now, we are over-nourished.

Nothing exemplifies this more than the dogma that our children must drink milk—and gallons of it.

In the recent controversy over whether we should be serving chocolate milk in schools, even the detractors’ fallback position is “not chocolate milk, because of all that sugar, but plain milk’s OK.”

But I have all these tree-hugger friends who complain that even plain milk isn’t good for humans. “Cow milk is for cows.” So I started surfing to see who’s right about kids and milk.

There are some good arguments to be made for not considering milk as this essential food group that our kids absolutely must have.

A major part of the argument that “cow milk is just for cows” centers around the issue that the milk protein is foreign to us humans.

“At least 50 percent of all children in the United States are allergic to cow milk, many [of them] undiagnosed,” claims Dr. Frank A. Oski, chief of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in his book, “Don’t Drink Your Milk—New Frightening Medical Facts About the World’s Most Overrated Nutrient.”

Infants have an immature and easily penetrable gut allowing food, in this case cow milk, to easily cross into the bloodstream. This exposes the immune system to foreign protein and can lead to the development of allergies.

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If you’d like to learn more about milk, consider reading the following: Dr. Gary Huber’s concerns about milk: at healthyalterego.com, search for “Is Milk Good for Kids?” American Dietetic Association view on milk as a key part of kids’ diets: search for “Science Supports the Important Role of Milk” at eatright.org. A column by Dr. Alan Greene, a Stanford University pediatrician, on “Seven Reasons Why Kids Should Drink Organic Milk,” at organicconsumers.org/ organic/seven052505.cfm National Dairy Council fact sheet: search for “dairy food safety fact sheet” at nationaldairycouncil.org.