Medicinal Mythology: Milk Causes Allergies?

It’s common to hear sites like PETA, or Natural News, or whatnot, repeat this claim ad nauseam. “milk is the leading cause of allergies in children” you hear them say, claiming that milk consumption is linked with asthma (and a wide list of other ailments, including Autism).

But what is the evidence behind this claim? Well, quack science and quotes by “Natural” toting “alternative medicine” quack scientists. Quoting from a book entitled “Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing” is not wonderful evidence for anything and just makes the movement this is quoted for look bad. But what does the science actually say?

Current evidence does not directly link milk consumption and asthma.” says one study which showed that BELIEVING that milk causes allergic symptoms, causes allergic symptoms. Another study from 1998 showed that  milk does not exasperate allergies either. Another study done in 1990 said the same thing.

Now if you already have a milk allergy, you can get asthma from the consumption of milk, but as of yet, there is no evidence showing that milk in and of itself causes asthma, or a worsening of asthma, in people who do not have milk allergies. In fact, a Cross-sectional Multi-centre study spanning almost 15,000 children in Europe showed that drinking farm milk, otherwise known as Raw Milk, was beneficial to preventing the onset of allergies. But then again, the study does not mention if they accounted for the fact that kids who drink the most farm milk are more likely to live in or around farms, and exposure to allergens causes resistance, and thus alleviates allergies. It’s hard to grow an immunity if you are not exposed.

Another theory is that drinking milk increases mucus and phlegm production, thus causing athsma. As of this date, that is known as a medical myth, and no evidence exists that supports it.

So in short, ilk CAN cause athsma if you are already allergic to milk proteins, but that is all. It does not cause asthma, and probably doesn’t even cure them.

First Milk Is As Bad As Cigarettes, Now Bacon!!!

Now I will be the first one to go out of her way to say that many people in my group (Vegetarians and vegans) will take any bit of information they desire and twist it entirely out of proportion.

I actually wrote an article before when I was told by a vegetarian that milk and dairy causes cancer, and was just as dangerous for your health as smoking. In that article I showed where the information came from. The study listed does not in any way single out milk, or even mention dairy products. No scientific evidence shows that there is a link between dairy products, and cancer, especially not nearly as bad as cigarettes. Not to say that Milk is GOOD for you, it really isn’t.

The evidence linked by various news sources this time is a WHO report, the World Health Organization. They labeled processed red meat such as bacon as Group 1 Carcinogen, or other words, they lumped it in the same category as Cigarettes, which increases your risk of Lung Cancer by over 2500%. Processed meat only increases your risk 18%, or from 4.5% to 5.3% lifetime risk. Not even close to the dangers caused by Cigarettes.

And the WHO even AGREES with this, they mentioned in their FAQ that:

9. Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). Tobacco smoking and asbestos are also both classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). Does it mean that consumption of processed meat is as carcinogenic as tobacco smoking and asbestos?

No, processed meat has been classified in the same category as causes of cancer such as tobacco smoking and asbestos (IARC Group 1, carcinogenic to humans), but this does NOT mean that they are all equally dangerous. The IARC classifications describe the strength of the scientific evidence about an agent being a cause of cancer, rather than assessing the level of risk.

14247859159432Now DOES red meat, and especially processed red meats increase your risk for Colorectal cancer? Yes. There is very little debate about that. But does it significantly increase your risk? Not really. Vegans are quick to mention that meat causes colon cancer, and that they are immune from it because they don’t eat red meat, but vegans with colon cancer discredit this. Not that there is much evidence that veganism is more beneficial than lacto-ovo vegetarianism when it comes to things like heart disease anyways.

For instance, not long ago, a YouTuber by the name of Furious Pete got testicular cancer, and as a result, many vegans started saying that he got cancer because he ate meat. But there is no evidence showing that red meat is associated with testicular cancer.

The WHO report was taken entirely out of context, in fact, in the FAQ they say:

16. Should I stop eating meat?

Eating meat has known health benefits. Many national health recommendations advise people to limit intake of processed meat and red meat, which are linked to increased risks of death from heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses.”

They do NOT recommend a complete cessation of red meat consumption, but they do say that processed meats, like “hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.” They also say what many health officials have been saying to awhile, to limit the intake of red meat.

Nutrition guidelines have been telling us for decades what a Serving Size is, and that the average adult male should eat about 6 oz of food in the protein group per day, which includes beans, nuts, seeds, chicken, fish, and beef. That is about 3 tacos, or one and a half whoppers. and that’s it. Per day. Of all food in the protein group. A typical steak should not be larger than the average deck of cards.

The Average American eats MUCH more than this, and that is simply in beef alone (where the average american consumes 5.5 oz of meat per capita), this does not include chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs, or fish. The average American diet and their overt portion sizes are connected to the rising obesity crisis going on, so it is important to moderate your portions.

The overconsumption of red and processed meats are bad for you, and you probably SHOULD decrease your intake. But the reduction in risk really isn’t that significant, and no, it is not as harmful as cigarettes or formaldehyde. Listen to the facts, not the hype.

The Dog/Cat Vegan Diet? A Scientific Analysis

I may be a vegetarian, but I know that I am an omnivore, and I know that eating animal products is a necessity unless you plan on supplementing. But I for one, am skeptical of the notion that a Dog or Cat, two biologically carnivorous animals, can have a balanced diet consisting entirely of plant-based foods.

For one, their intestines are shorter, which means that less time is spent sending the food from the mouth to the butt. This helps them when eating meat, because if meat stays too long in your intestines, it literally starts to rot inside your body. Herbavores have longer intestines to help digest plants better. The intestines of a dog or cat is rather short, and thus would not be all the helpful in the digestion of plant matter.

The main issue with Vegetarian or Vegan diets for your dogs is that it is REALLY hard to do unless you plan their diet really carefully. And for cats it is outright impossible. When talking about plant-based diets in cats and dogs, ScientificAmerican wrote:

Veterinarian Marla McGeorge, a cat specialist at Portland, Oregon’s Best Friends Veterinary Medical Center, argues that the problem with forcing your cat to be vegetarian or vegan is that such diets fail to provide the amino acids needed for proper feline health and are too high in carbohydrates that felines have not evolved to be able to process. As to those powder-based supplements intended to bridge the nutritional gap, McGeorge says that such formulations may not be as easily absorbed by cats’ bodies as the real thing.

Vegan CatCats are what you call Obligate Carnivores, like the Venus Flytrap, which REQUIRE the consumption of animal meat in order to survive. These animals can consume a small amount of plant products, but their digestive system lacks the ability to properly digest it. They also need certain vitamins not available in plant sources, for instance, cats need D3 from animal sources, not D2 which comes from plants. WebMD has this to say:

Lew Olson, PhD, author of Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, makes this analogy: “Trying to feed a cat a vegan diet would be like me feeding my horses meat. You’re taking a whole species of animal and trying to force it to eat something that it isn’t designed to handle.”

“For cats, it’s really inappropriate. It goes against their physiology and isn’t something I would recommend at all,” says Cailin Heinze, VMD, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

“For dogs, certainly vegetarian and vegan diets can be done, but they need to be done very, very carefully. There is a lot of room for error, and these diets probably are not as appropriate as diets that contain at least some animal protein,” Heinze says.

““We did see a case of a cat that almost died as a result of taurine deficiency,” says Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, board-certified veterinary nutritionist and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California, Davis veterinary school. “The owners were feeding a vegan cat kibble, so a commercially available vegan diet, and they were mixing that diet with cooked chicken breast, for some reason, but it was not enough taurine for the cat, obviously, and it resulted in a near-death experience for this animal.””

Dogs CAN technically be vegetarian however, you just have to be VERY areful in planning their diets. It is really easy to cause your dog harm by messing up their diet. Vitamin/mineral deficiencies can be common in animals who use even commercially available animal foods.

The benefits of a vegetarian diet on the health of the dog is up for debate, however, as there is not enough science to show that this is more beneficial than regular dogfood in any way. When it comes to pets, it is better to follow the advice of animal experts and Veterinarians over vegetarians and vegans any day of the week.

A Quick Talk About My "Eating Vegetarian At" Series

I have a series which I started doing in July called Eating Vegetarian At, which has me research the menu’s of NUMBEROUS fast food places, and discover what is vegetarian and what is not. I do want to expand on this and add in which items are vegan as well. My most popular in the series is about the gas station food place Sheetz, which has 219 views as of writing this article.  This is followed far behind by Checkers/Rally’s with 33 views. But altogether this series has been doing well.

I have posted about 10 fast food places so far, and a lost of which ones are on the sidebar. But that is not the reason I am writing this post.

As someone who adores nutrition and health science, I don’t want this series to give off the impression that Fast Food vegetarian options are magically healthy. Deep fried onion rings, fried potatoes, pizza, and yes, veggie burgers, are often not healthy choices at all. They are healthyER than their meat substitutes, but they are still deep fried, smothered with cheese or oil, or placed on white bread, in which none of them are healthy and have high amounts of saturated fats and added sugars. Which can cause obesity, which is a risk factor of Type 2 Diabetes and a multitude of other health issues.

So eating take-out or fast food is usually unhealthy, and you will find VERY few exceptions to that rule. Besides, maybe, side salads and Italian dressing. That said, IF you are going to go out and eat at a fast food resturant, there IS some healthiER fast food choices out there, such as a Bean Burrito from Taco Bell or a Veggie Sandwich from Five Guys. But you have to be careful.

Just one meal at a fast food restaurant can completely ruin your nutrition for the day. Either having the food be high in calories, or loaded with fat or added sugars, or have little to no real nutritional value at all, INCLUDING most vegetarian food options. And that is OK every now and then as long as you do well on other days, but it is REALLY east, as I have found out personally, to overconsume on even vegetarian junk foods.

So while I will still be posting about fast food resturants and their vegetarian options, I will try to also talk about healthy vegetarian choices you can make at home or buy from the store in other posts. I will try to balance out this site so that most of the food posts I am talking about is not just about junky foods. So look forward to those!

But yeah, I don’t want to advocate unhealthy eating, even if it is vegetarian. Moderation is ALWAYS key!

Eating Vegetarian At: Five Guys

Five Guys is yet another place that you would not in any way expect to have very many vegetarian, or even vegan options, but you’d be shocked that it has both! Many burger joints, aside from a few that will not be named, but rhyme with Smikdonalds and Sally’s, are starting to include vegetarian options to their burger menu’s, which is awesome! Vegetable meat-replacement is on the rise, and that can’t be a bad thing.

In terms of vegetarian options, Five Guy’s, who don’t have a very big menu to begin with, has a number of vegetarian options, including:

  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Veggie Sandwich (has no patty, but does include mushrooms, can add cheese)
  • Cajun fries
  • Regular fries
  • Peanuts

The veggie sandwich is cheaper than its burger alternatives, and according to the site, has 16 grams of protein, and 440 Calories. Adding cheese makes it 20 grams of protein. All of their buns include eggs and dairy, but I personally don’t find it enough to make too much of a difference, but everything but their fries are usually good for the Lacto-ovo vegetarian.

Their fries and their peanuts, however, are Vegan. And they even mention that in their F.A.Q:

Do you offer any food which is suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, to a certain extent. Our veggie sandwich and grilled cheese sandwiches are suitable for lacto-ovo vegetarians. One thing to take note of is that our veggie sandwich is NOT a veggie burger. Our veggie sandwich consists of as many “veggie” toppings as you desire and served on our basic bun. You can add cheese if you please. Our bread is toasted, but usually on a separate grill from meat products. However, there is always a chance for cross contamination, so please check at the individual location where you are ordering to be certain. Finally, our fries are just plain potatoes cooked in 100% peanut oil and are suitable for even vegan diets.

Most places have vegan fries, such as BK and McDonalds, but you have to be careful, because Rally’s cooks all their products in beef tallow.

So if you are going out to eat anywhere do know that there are some vegetarian options at Five Guys as well.

Vegetarians and Supplementation?

I really didn’t think supplementation would be that important when I became a vegetarian almost 7 months ago, but after almost a full month of making a food log on Cronometer, a site dedicated to helping people see the specifics of their food consumption, all the way down to their amino acid consumption, I saw that I was deficient on a few vitamins, including B5, D, and E.

So lately I have been taking a supplement, but not everyday. At the end of the day, if I look at the chart and see that I am lacking in some vitamins, I take a supplement. But only then do I take one. I know as a vegetarian or vegan that supplementation is required. It was less of an issue for me because I still consume milk products, but I was concerned because I was consistently missing out on a lot of vitamins D, E, and B5. I got enough B12 simply because milk, soymilk, and veggie meat substitutes, as well as many cereals, all are fortified with Vitamin B12.

The main issue I see is if you consume a ton of multivitamins or vitamin supplements, that can either be completely useless, as most vitamins just pass right through your system, making very expensive pee. Or it could simply be dangerous, such as a high dosage of Beta-Carotine in supplemental form has been seen to show a significantly higher risk for lung cancer in smokers than people who did not take these high-dose supplements. So supplements are great to prevent deficiency, but it should not be taken in high-doses.

Vegans for instance, can eat a diet that could be deficient in vitamin B12, D, Iron, Calcium, and Zinc. If you work your diet correctly, you can get Calcium, Zinc, Etc, but supplements are required for B12 and D3.

Many Vegan’s that I have heard about are quite complacent, and are wholly against supplementation in any form, because they believe that they just need to eat dirty fruit to get B12, and go out in the sun for D3. Sunlight alone can’t give you a full DRV of D3, and dirty fruit won’t give you B12. In fact, B12 is a deficiency even in animal foods, mainly due to lack of in-ground B-12 and Cobalt, etc. You’re not going to get it outside of fortified foods and supplements.

So if possible, consume fortified foods. Most breakfast cereals, meat replacements, and soymilk has B12 and D in it. And watch out for B5 as well, that seems to be an issue for me, despite me eating beans, seeds, nuts, greens, and fruit.

The main thing to look out for is non-vegan products in multivitamins, such as Gelatin, and Lanolin. Aside from that, you should definitely supplement. Even Vegetarian Society recommends supplementation. So as long as it is done in moderation, supplementation is great!

Testing Veggie Cheeses

Ok, Veggie and Vegan cheese are one thing that I have never had a good relationship with. I have tried many of them, just to have them taste awful. So I am going to review some cheeses now that are either Vegan, or made with primarily soy and other ingredients but still have small amounts of some milk products. So here is a review of a few that I have bought at my neighborhood Strack Van Til and tried out recently:

  • Go Veggie! Mozzarella Cheese Slices

Now this cheese is not all that good.  But it is edible if you eat it alongside a sandwich. But to be honest, no matter the flavor you get, it all tastes like processed cheese product. Each slice is only 40 calories, has 3 grams of protein, which is less than 1% protein per calorie. It is also created with Casein and a small amount of milk. So it is not a vegan product, but it uses far less milk than regular cheese.

  • Go Veggie Vegan Cream Cheese

I love cream cheese, and bought this to try to see if I can use it as a substitute for it. Sadly, it does not in any way taste like cheese. It does, however, taste like margarine. That is not a BAD taste, but it is not cream cheese flavored. Each 2 tablespoon serving is 80 calories, which is 90% fat, and only comes with 4% calcium and 1 gram of protein, which is very low in protein compared to regular cream cheese.

  • Shred-Mate Ched-o-Mate imitation Cheddar Cheese

Now about this cheese, it’s very creamy and grainy, and not in a good way. If you mix it in with other stuff, it will taste OK, but by itself it really doesn’t. It does melt though, but it is not stringy. It also tastes pretty dry. It was fairly cheap though, at a dollar and thirty cents per 6 oz bag. It does contain Whey, however, but is mostly soybean oil. It’s 90 calories per 1/4 cup or 28 gram serving, and has 5 grams of fat, and less than a single gram of protein. It does contain 20% of your Daily Recommended Value of Calcium, which is good enough, but it’s still very junky.

  • Shred-Mate Pizza Imitation Mozzarella Cheese

Like Ched-o-Mate, this cheese tastes more grainly and melty, and not in a good way. Like I said, it tastes better ON something, but it is still a food I would not buy if I had the choice. It also has a exact same nutritional value and everything else as Ched-o-Mate.


 

I tried to look for Daiya while I was there, but could not find anything from that brand in the store, despite the Daiya website telling me that it is sold there. Maybe as a Mac N Cheese or Pizza or something, but not as a cheese.

But this is why I still eat cheese and milk on occasion. I am a Lacto-vegetarian, and the main reason for that is because there are no good dairy substitutes. I am trying to cut back on my dairy intake for health reasons mainly, and have found soymilk, which tastes good enough, but it is harder due to the fact that cheese tastes good and cheese alternatives… don’t.

Eating less dairy is good both for health reasons, and for ethical reasons, but it’s going to be hard if we don’t have good cheese replacements.