Opinion is divided as to whether milk is of great benefit – only to calves or a wonderful multi-faceted food?

The proteins casein, lactalbumin and lac-toglobulin are known to be the cause of allergies and are not easily broken down by the human gut. If a protein is not well broken down it can be absorbed in its entirety and the body will recognize it as a potential virus or bacteria and produce an antibody response. If the partially broken down protein resembles the proteins within our body, then this immune system response may well attack our cells.

Milk sugar, lactose, is not well tolerated by many races. 90 per cent of Filipinos, 50 per cent of Indians and approximately 8 per cent of the USA and the UK populations do not have the necessary enzyme to break down lactose. To these people this makes the sugar useless as an energy source and encourages fluids to stay in the bowel, leading to dehydration.

Homogenization, a process to ‘sterilize’ milk to ensure safe consumption, leads to the production of a chemical called xanthine oxidase, which destroys a compound in the blood called plasmo-gen, which in turn leads to the loss of a protective factor in the arterial walls. This, in turn, encourages atheroma.

Milk is often considered to be a major source of calcium and indeed the calcium content of milk is very high. Several studies, however, show that the calcium in milk is not easily absorbed into the bloodsteam and does not increase calcium levels as profoundly as we would assume .

Milk has been related to a myriad of symptoms and conditions, including problems associated with mucus, such as respiratory infections, ear, nose and throat problems, sinus congestion, asthma, colitis, acne and eczema, arthritis, heartburn and ulcers, to name but a few.

Milk has found its way into our diet and a majority of us enjoy a breakfast cereal . It is an integral part of breakfast and alternatives are hard to find: goat’s and sheep’s milk have a distinctive taste that may not be acceptable; soya has a grainy texture; and fruit juices on cereals simply do not hit the spot for those of us who are accustomed to cow’s milk. It is worth, however, trying to prepare a ‘milk’ from a variety of nuts and seeds by following the instructions below:

Try almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Soak overnight in enough water to cover the seeds by at least half an inch.

The next morning, pour the soaked seeds and water into a blender and pulverize. If the solution is too thick, add more water. If the flavour is not to your taste, add a spoonful of honey or blend in raisins earlier on in the preparation.

I do not think that milk is a good food. If it does not cause obvious symptoms then there is probably no harm in drinking it, but organic milk, to avoid homogenization, is a prerequisite for anybody whose family has any cardiovascular disease. I do not recommend it as a food for young children, preferring, despite recent scares, formula preparations and weaning on to a wholesome diet.