26/06/2014 10:18 BST | Updated 23/08/2014 06:59 BST

Dairy Products: Essential to Good Health? Or The Cause of Disease?

How on earth can cow's milk be considered an essential part of our diet when its purpose is to feed calves until they are old enough to be weaned? How does it make any sense at all that people are supposed to have it? Just because we have been doing it for centuries does not mean it is rational or good for us; it just means it was an available food source at some point, and has since become an acceptable part of the human diet.

How on earth can cow's milk be considered an essential part of our diet when its purpose is to feed calves until they are old enough to be weaned? How does it make any sense at all that people are supposed to have it? Just because we have been doing it for centuries does not mean it is rational or good for us; it just means it was an available food source at some point, and has since become an acceptable part of the human diet.

But essential? Not on your life. Good for you? No way. Talk about putting diesel fuel in a car that requires petrol. At least both diesel and petrol operate similar types of vehicles.

If you're going to put cow's milk into a human, you might as well put orange juice in your petrol tank. We are simply not designed to tolerate it because it was meant for an entirely different species - and it is a species that has four stomachs to digest it, I might add. Consuming it is a terrible assault on a body that is not at all equipped to deal with it.

It should come as no surprise that cow's milk is the most common food allergen in North America, but because the many different symptoms are not usually severe and obvious, it is often overlooked as the culprit. Symptoms of cow's milk allergy may vary from one person to another, but can include fatigue, headache, hyperactivity, runny nose, nasal congestion, frequent colds and chest infections, asthma, ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems, eczema, hives, trouble sleeping, and bed-wetting.

Think about how commonly we see these ailments in people, especially in children. Even breastfed babies whose mothers consume cow's milk products may experience nappy rash, eczema or tummy distress of one kind or another.

Constantly bombarding the body with a food allergen is just asking for trouble. No wonder it causes so many problems for people and there is plenty of research to support this statement.

For example, in Discover Magazine, August 2000, Dr T Colin Campbell, PhD, a prestigious nutritional biochemist at Cornell University reveals some of the many ways in which cow's milk can make and keep us chronically ill. Growing up on a dairy farm, he had a firm belief that milk was essential to our good health but he has now proved otherwise. (Much of the information below comes from that article.)

After years of research, he believes it is "unnatural" for us to drink it, or to consume products made with it. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a Washington, DC-based non-profit advocacy organisation with over 100,000 members, seeks to encourage high ethical standards, preventive medicine and more. It is also opposed to the consumption of cow's milk in any form.

First of all, they claim that it is the worst source of calcium for us (no surprise there; it was not intended for us). Neal Barnard, head of PCRM, says, "It would be hard to imagine a worse vehicle for delivering calcium to the human body." And secondly, the health risks associated with it are frightening. In Asia, Africa, southern Europe, and Latin America most of the population have trouble digesting lactose, the main sugar found in milk.

Cow's milk has been found to stimulate growth hormones in the human body, increasing the risk of being overweight and of contracting various diseases.

It has been discovered that milk does not build strong bones in humans; in fact, it can do more harm than good. Recent research suggests that we may need less calcium than was originally thought, but better quality calcium than that which we find in cow's milk. Better sources include eggs, sardines, broccoli, leafy vegetables, tofu, salmon, molasses, baked beans, peas, dried beans, parsnips, artichokes, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. This list is not exhaustive, by any means, and there is also the option of making soup using the bones of animals or birds. I learned this from a well-respected Chinese doctor many years ago; he said it makes the broth an excellent source of calcium.

Since 1965, there have been studies that show a strong link between milk consumption and several types of cancer, including cancer of the liver and at least two types of cancer that are increasingly common in Europe and North America: breast and prostate.

Yet in Asia, where most people do not consume milk products of any kind, breast cancer is very rare.

A 1989 study showed that in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, where there is a high consumption of milk, there is also a high rate of breast cancer. Likewise with worldwide research into prostate cancer, it is always much more prevalent where dairy products are consumed than where they are not.

What I found to be the most shocking bit of information was that in worldwide studies, the more dairy products people consume, the more susceptible they were to hip fractures. In North American and Northern European countries where people consume two to three times more dairy products than Asians and Africans, they also have two to three times more broken bones. A 12-year Harvard Nurses' Health Study produced similar results.

To make matters worse, we are told that many commercial dairy farmers are notorious for giving their cows synthetic growth hormones, and antibiotics, which can end up in the milk, and therefore, in humans. There is some debate about this, and with regulations varying from country to country, you may or may not be susceptible to health risks due to these practices.

On top of all of this, according to an article by PETA, the natural lifespan of an average American dairy cow has been reduced from 25 years to a mere 5 years, during which she will have been forced into the constant production of milk. This is unnatural and exhausts the poor cow, whose immune system becomes weakened, increasing her likelihood of getting mastitis, an extremely painful infection of the udder. This could mean that before the infection is discovered, there could be blood and pus in her milk, and the possible addition of antibiotics if she is returned to milking too soon after treatment.

On the website for the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine, an article by Dr Samuel S Epstein, author of What's In Your Milk, says this: "rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) is a genetically engineered, potent variant of the natural growth hormone produced by cows." He goes on to say that it increases cows' milk production by about 10% and that although it is said to be safe for consumers, this is "blatantly false."

Dr Epstein says that rBGH makes cows sick and is responsible for about 20 toxic effects, including mastitis. In addition, he states, "rBGH milk is chemically and nutritionally different than natural milk." Even more dangerous is the fact that rBGH increases levels of Insulin-Like Growth Factor - or IGF-1, which causes cell division in humans. Dr Epstein's research points to a sobering conclusion: "Excess levels of IGF-1 have been incriminated as a cause of breast, colon and prostate cancers."

According to the above-mentioned website, Dr Epstein's book "...presents [his] trailblazing scientific publications since 1989, which have played a major role in influencing other ban rBGH milk."

With a vast amount of research and literature available, warning us against the consumption of cow's milk, I could write about it at length, but this is enough to make my point.

However, we do need calcium, one of the most important and necessary minerals for the human body. Not only does it help with blood clotting, with sending and receiving nerve signals, and releasing hormones and other chemicals, it is needed for the squeezing and relaxing of muscles. This includes the heart muscle, which requires calcium to beat and to relax properly.

We just need to get it from sources that will not harm us.

The above is an excerpt from my book, The Power and Simplicity of Self-Healing. For more information or to purchase, click here.