We have been brought up to believe that we need to drink cow milk in order to have strong bones and healthy teeth, skin, and hair.
Yet consider: cow milk has been proven to be the cause of IDDM, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in children. The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine published an article summarizing a report that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine. Regarding IDDM, the article states: "the culprit appears to be a cow milk protein, called bovine serum albumin, which differs just enough from human proteins to cause the human body to react by producing antibodies."
The antibodies created in response to this cow milk protein (BSA) attack the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, and destroy them. Diabetes first becomes apparent when 80-90% of the beta cells have been destroyed.
The connection between the BSA and childhood diabetes is so strong that the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine says: "...U.S. government advice that all children should drink cow's milk should now be reversed. There is no reason to recommend cow milk."
Researchers noted that "the prevalence of childhood diabetes parallels the consumption of cow's milk."
This bring up an interesting question: Is it possible researchers have been looking in all the wrong places for a cause for Multiple Sclerosis?
This "antibody" reaction to BSA could be the same reaction that sets off the immune system in Multiple Sclerosis. In MS, myelin in the brain and spinal cord is attacked by the body's own immune system.
Multiple Sclerosis follows the same "milk track" that childhood diabetes does. But MS researchers have never been able to find out just what sets the body on its self-destructive path. Here is some food for thought about a possible connection between cow milk and multiple sclerosis.
-- MS is most prevalent in Northern Europe and in the northern part of North America (i.e. northern U.S. and Canada). Since 1950 researchers have been saying that if a child spends the first 15 years of his life in a particular latitude [above 50 degrees N or below 50 degrees S], he has a greater chance of developing MS than if he does not grow up in this area.
But they do not know why this is. They have looked at factors like "December solar radiation" as a possible factor (1). But they have not looked at diet (2).
What is the common denominator among people living in this particular latitude whether they live in Wisconsin or in Edinburgh?
The common denominator is CONSUMPTION OF DAIRY FOODSTUFFS. This explains, for example, why people from the West Indies do not develop MS, but if they move to London, their CHILDREN have the same risk of developing MS as "the white UK-born population." (3)
You move, your diet changes.
Or, conversely: You move, you bring your diet with you. Countries which do not fit this model include Australia and New Zealand - both of which have a relatively high incidence of Multiple Sclerosis. These countries are populated by people of European heritage, who drink cow's milk, eat cheese, etc.
In Scandinavia, MS is frequent but more prevalent in the interior regions - where dairy consumption is high - than in the ocean side communities, where it is not.
--There is a genetic component to MS: a gene called HLA DR2 is known to predispose people to developing MS. This gene is "over represented in Northern Europeans." (4)
All humans have - for the most part - identical genes. This is why you can be from the West Indies, move to London, and your children have a high risk of developing MS. This is why, although MS is primarily a "disease" of "White Europeans," (5) you can be Black and still develop MS. You can be White and develop Sickle Cell Anemia, too. And "multiple sclerosis is rare in several populations where the normal frequency of DR2 is high: examples include Japanese, black Africans, American Indians and Hungarian gypsies" (6)
Do these groups drink cow milk?
Dairy products are very bad for human beings. First, humans are the only mammal that drinks the milk of another mammal. And second, humans are the only mammal that continues to drink milk past infancy.
Consider that populations with low consumption of dairy foods also have low incidences of osteoporosis - such as China, or certain African societies. Calcium deficiency caused by an inadequate amount of calcium in the diet is not even known to occur in humans.(7) It is known that a diet high in protein, such as our typical "Western" diet, high in animal protein, leads to osteoporosis. (8) Since the 1920s researchers have known that diets high in protein (especially animal protein) cause calcium to be lost through the urine. (9)
There are other foods that not only provide calcium but that are richer sources of calcium AND do not subject you to the unhealthy fats and bovine proteins that cow milk does. Foods that do not add to your weight. Or increase your risk for developing heart disease, or cancer, or stroke, or high blood pressure, and so on.
One cup of milk contains 288 mg of calcium, along with saturated fats and, especially if you're not buying rBGH-free milk, lots of other other nasty things that were not intended by nature to be part of the human body.
Rich sources of calcium include sesame seeds, chickpeas and broccoli. One tablespoon of sesame seeds has 331 mg and one cup of cooked chickpeas has 75 mg of calcium. Broccoli (one large stalk) has 246 mg.
The U.S. RDA for calcium varies (i.e., a woman of childbearing age has a higher requirement) from 800 mg to 1200 mg/day.
Milk is definitely not the best - and certainly not the healthiest - source of calcium.
Cow milk is for cows, not human beings.
(1) McAlpine's Multiple Sclerosis, W.B. Matthews, Volume Editor, Churchill
Livingstone, 1991, p. 19.
(2) Ibid., p. 20.
(3) Ibid., p. 21.
(4) Ibid., p. 310.
(5) Ibid., p. 16.
(6) Ibid., p. 310.
(7) McDougall, John A., M.D., and Mary A. McDougall, The McDougall Plan, New Century Publishers, Inc., pp. 49-51.
(8) Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 1980, 76: 148-150; Public Health Reports, 1986, 131-135.
(9) Journal of Nutrition 1981, 111: 553-562.
The Story of "Sarah"
The diagnosis didn't help, either. Because MS is a slow degenerative "disease" problems are at first overlooked - like the time an expensive crystal wine glass slid from my fingers and smashed on a rooftop (oh, I must have had too much to drink). Or the time I was cutting vegetables and watched my right knife-holding hand make a very nice, clean cut on my left pinkie finger - and didn't feel it. (Just clumsy.) Or the time I was running in the rain, holding an umbrella, tripped, flew head over heels and landed on my feet. (Maybe I should try out for the Olympics.)
Concurrent with these strange happenings were lethargy, fatigue, nausea, confusion, itching on my arms and back and eventually numbness on the right side of my body. Since I was by this time sleeping on the couch, I figured I'd just slept wrong, and thought the numbness would go away. It didn't. I became unable to navigate steps as I had before, and in walking down a sidewalk, would weave like a drunkard, even though I hadn't had a drop to drink.
I was diagnosed as "benign" (meaning I had MS, but it wasn't progressing) and told by the neurologist simply not to do any jogging or take hot showers. There was nothing he could do, he said.
That was indeed fortunate. Because it didn't make any sense to me that I had this problem in the first place, and it made even less sense that this learned physician at a famous big-city medical center said he "couldn't do anything".
I immediately read as much as I could get my hands on about this issue. I discovered that people in the same situation had - if not "cured" themselves - at least learned how to take control of the situation through diet.
It sounded too simple to be true. Nevertheless I tried to follow a diet that Roger MacDougall had written had helped him. He was confined to a wheelchair for 20 years and had liberated himself from its confines by changing what he ate. Although the diet was extremely restrictive, I managed to stick to it for almost a year. I also was mailed a copy of Dr. Roy Swank's book ["The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book"] by a sympathetic friend. I even purchased and read an academic medical book on MS that only neurologists read.
Time went on and I gave up on the diet idea. Then I ended up being "reclassed" by another neurologist as "chronic progressive" (meaning the MS was not benign and was getting worse).
At that time I was reaching for a cane when I left my home. I was told by a physical therapist I should get grab bars for my shower. I was having trouble concentrating and was fired from a job.
Everything about me had changed due to this insidious "disease." Everything, that is, except my refusal to accept the fate that was foretold by "doctors."
At a very low point, realizing that the only things that were in my future were Poise Pads and - if I were lucky - an Amigo scooter, I decided to take control of the situation.
I had known about macrobiotics for many years, but when you're healthy, you don't see a reason to change your way of eating. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" as the saying goes. But when everything you've had has disappeared into thin air, you try anything, and you are better able to make a commitment when you instinctively know your well-being depends upon it.
I've been completely macrobiotic for almost four months. In that time I've not had to use my cane, I can look around when I walk instead of looking at where I have to step, I have not been exhausted - like I was before, even after a full night's sleep - the numbness on my right side has dissipated to the point where it's almost totally gone, I'm not having severe balance problems, and so on.
And I'm supposed to be sick and to not be able to do anything about it.
A Note About the Author:
"Sarah" is a person recovering from multiple sclerosis through Macrobiotics. She would like to thank the medical profession for helping her see the path to a better existence.
My experience with my change in diet has been a good one. Although altering my diet did not result in immediate far-reaching changes, it has unequivocally made a difference. I have learned that foods definitely have an effect on one's outlook and reaction to stressful events, and perhaps most importantly, that in order to "cure" oneself one must put aside pompous, egotistical and self-centered emotions and become humble, simple, and modest.
What I was not prepared for was the depth of anger that has stirred in the hearts of those who suffer from the same malady as me. The interesting thing is that this animosity was not apparent on the surface for some time. And when it appeared, I was not totally unprepared for it - not surprised, hurt or offended.
People speak of "going on a diet" and Weight Watchers and Slimfast make lots of money catering to a public that is convinced that they carry too much weight on their frames. The word "diet" is loaded with connotations that many think relate only to weight loss. This singular, one-track way of thinking is rife with contradictions. For example, a person on a weight reduction diet will decide that a special, "high protein" diet, with very few carbohydrates, is the way to go, and center his diet on meats. In this way, he believes, he will give his body what it needs (proteins, with a few vegetables and fruits thrown in for good measure). However, this is not necessarily a good "slimming" diet. How can it possibly be, when in order to make use of animal protein his body must contend with many foreign substances ingested along with the meat? (Like dioxins that tend to concentrate in animal fat.)
There is a "health scare" every few months: over in England we had "mad cow" disease, in the United States, the slaughterhouses are so filthy that consumers are now told to wash all surfaces and utensils that come into contact with raw pork or chicken with hot soapy water to avoid becoming sick.
Unfortunately, people react very strongly when confronted with "dietary" or "nutritional" knowledge that contradicts what they firmly believe.
In the case of "the dangers of cow milk," reaction among those steeped in the nonsense promulgated by the dairy industry has been fierce. don't ingest dairy products.
I once described to a friend my feelings about what happens to a person once he gives up his freedom and decides to listen to negative voices outside himself that say "there is nothing we can do", and scoff when "diet" is mentioned as a possible contributing factor in health issues: it is like entering a tunnel. Once inside, there are two choices: continuing down the tunnel, or reversing direction and heading back out. It is easy to continue on the path inside that tunnel, but to reverse direction takes guts and will - something that most people who have accepted the label thrust upon them by an unaware medical profession do not have.
I read that George Ohsawa himself would only give counsel to people ONCE in their lives; if they sought further advice, it indicated to him that they did not listen to his words the first time they were given, and that a "cure" was not in the cards for that person: they were still insolent and supercilious.
Does changing one's diet result in an immediate "cure"? No. What has done for me is improve my stamina and mental state and show me that a "cure" is at least possible, if not probable. I have had those moments where I seemed to be back to my old self, where issues of spasticity or weakeness vanished, without resorting to dangerous drugs prescribed by a doctor to mask symptoms. But let's all remember that seemingly intractable issues such as cancer or multiple sclerosis don't simply arise out of the blue, not here one minute and then suddenly *poof*. It took many years for this condition to develop, and it will not suddenly disappear with the ingestion of one bowl of brown rice.
A wise man once wrote: "I know I must release and let go of people and circumstances, or be tormented by the very people I am trying so hard NOT to be like. The bigger tragedy is becoming poisoned, even sick, from the very kinds of behavior we dislike so much. We become more and more a reflection of the Order of the Universe, which means we are not attached to anything, but very forgiving, fluidly moving on. I think the universe is trying to teach us to let go of things so we can move on to bigger and better things. As long as we hold on to the past, we continue living in the past, and cannot advance or proceed with the realization of our goals or a better life."
In order to cure you must listen to your own inner voice and realize that the voice you hear is the voice of God.