The natural food of infants, milk is a good source of protein, fatty acids, vitamins and some minerals. However cow’s (and other animals’) milk is not a suitable substitute for human breast milk before weaning, and special formula feeds must be fed to young babies. Some authorities believe that cow’s milk should not be fed to infants below one year of age because an immature digestive system may be unable to digest it sufficiently. The improper digestion of any food can lead to the development of an allergy.
Other authorities believe that cow’s milk and dairy produce are not suitable foods for children or adults because other mammals do not continue to consume milk after weaning. A large percentage of the world’s population is lactose-intolerant – they cannot digest the sugar lactose found in milk, and develop diarrhoea if they try to drink it.
Cow’s milk allergy is one of the most common food intolerances and can be responsible for a wide range of symptoms from migraine to sinusitis, eczema and irritable bowel syndrome. The promotion of milk drinking by workers in the public health sector is intended to ensure that those who know and understand little about healthy eating and who may eat and may feed their children an otherwise poor diet, will at least be assured of a good range of vital nutrients if they consume milk daily.
Those eating a well-balanced wholefood diet rich in nuts, seeds, wholegrains and leafy vegetables do not normally need to consume milk and dairy produce in order to obtain sufficient calcium.