Brief History of Milk
The introduction of milk can be traced to as far back as 10,000 years ago where Neolithic farmers discovered that milking cattle can help to provide sustenance to the human population. The pasteurized milk that so many people have grown to love was developed in 1864 and only mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987. Three years later, the FDA approved the use of genetically modified milk. The next monumental event came in 2008 when cloned milk was legally accepted for public distribution.
The global production of milk can be categorized into five distinct sources: Cattle, Buffaloes, Goats, Sheep, and Camels. Milk produced from cattle commands staggering 85% of the global milk industry while buffaloes are responsible for a tenth of the global milk production. The remaining slice of the pie is split among goats, sheep, and camels.
Modern Society’s Perception of Milk
Ever since bottled milk first appeared in 1884, many countries have dived into the market and starting producing their own brands of milk. India currently tops the list of milk producers, with roughly one-fifth of the global milk volume originating from the country. The United States ranks 2nd, holding a 12% share of the market. The rest of the milk production is divided among the other countries with notable mentions to the following:
The general demand for milk has also increased tremendously over the past 3 decades. This is evident from the statistics that clearly exhibit a rise in global milk production. From 1983 to 2003, the world’s milk industry has increased supply by 50%. Impressively, the Asian region recorded a dramatic increase in milk production from 80 million tons to 270 million tons within the same period.
Facts About Milk Consumption
Distribution of Milk
The importance of milk can be witnessed in its influence on dairy products. Surprisingly, only 40% of the total milk production is set aside for fresh milk and its variations. Half of the total market proportion is reserved for cheese, butter and ghee products. The leftover portion is then split among skimmed and whole milk powder.
Raw Milk or Pasteurized Milk?
The debate between advocates of raw milk and traditionalists who strongly believe in pasteurized milk have been raging on for decades. Their arguments are intensively focused on the health benefits or consequences that are attached to the quality of milk. For instance, people who prefer raw milk believe that it contains natural elements that help to reinforce the immune system and ward off pathogens.
Studies have also backed their claim that raw milk helps to prevent asthma and allergies. Additionally, they hold the opinion that pasteurized milk loses vital nutritional value throughout its production process. Nevertheless, these claims are strongly objected by their counter-parties.
Helps to Strengthen Bones
The most common health benefit associated with milk consumption is its ability to strengthen the bones. This scientific fact cannot be disputed as the high calcium content have been proved to aid in building stronger bones. A lesser known health benefit is that milk helps to promote better skin condition and can fight against the effects of sun exposure. For those who prefer to drink almond milk, this advantage is more evident as it contains higher levels of vitamin E and antioxidant properties that help to build a healthier skin foundation.
The Effects of Lactose Intolerance
The process of packaging milk from the moment it is milked from a cow takes only 2 days before it reaches supermarket aisles. The nutrients derived from an 8-ounce glass of milk is comparable to 12 servings of whole grains, 6 servings of legumes or 10 servings of raw spinach. Unfortunately, roughly 29 million Americans are lactose intolerant and unable to consume any dairy products, thus losing out on this health benefit. Interestingly, 85% of these people can withstand consuming raw milk. Alternatively, lactose-free milk products are also available for them.
Some people might express their reluctance to drink natural-flavoured milk. They require some excitement for their taste buds to thoroughly enjoy the beverage. This need for flavour is more pronounced rife amongst the younger generations. This is why chocolate milk is one of the best-selling milk products. In fact, a study has shown that when chocolate milk is removed from cafeterias, total milk consumption dropped by 35%.
Genetically Modified Milk
As mentioned above, genetically modified milk was only approved by the FDA in the early 1990s. Roughly 1 in every 5 cows has been injected with rBGH to increase their production of milk. Unfortunately, milk produced by genetically modified cows does not need to be labelled and neither are they separated from the other milk products.
However, this procedure is unique to the United States as all European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have banned the use of rBGH to increase milk production. This is due to the elevated levels of a hormone known as Insulin Growth Factor-1, which consequently increases the risk of cancers.
Increases Risk of Cancer
It is given that milk from genetically modified cows present an increased risk of cancer. However, it should be noted that milk produced through the natural process also contains risk factors that can lead to the onset of cancer diseases. Studies have shown guys who consume at least 2 servings of milk daily exhibit an increased 34% risk of developing prostate cancer. On the other hand, the lactose content of milk also escalated the risk of ovarian cancer in women.
As part of the individual body maintenance process, it is essential to be aware of what is fed into the body and the characteristics that these food items possess. Generally, the public holds a positive perception towards consuming milk due to the host of health benefits that it provides. Nonetheless, consumers should also be warned of the threat of genetically modified milk and the health consequences of excessive milk consumption.
Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com
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