Milk : Most Nutritionally Complete Food - God’s Greatest Gift

PEOPLE has used milk as food since very ancient times. Milk is a natural source of calcium and protein necessary for good health. It is regarded as one of the most nutritionally complete foods available on our planet. In fact, milk is nutritionally complete food for all ages and has been part of the human diet for thousands of years.

Mother's milk is best for babies and young children. Ideally, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life. Nothing compares to breast milk and every effort should be made to ensure babies have this highly nourishing substance but for older, already weaned children and adults, cow's milk is a great source of daily nutrition needs especially calcium.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for babies for the first six months, after which their nutrition should be complemented with family foods in addition to breast milk.

In order to encourage breastfeeding, mothers should refrain from placing a pacifier in the mouth of their babies as it hinders the breastfeeding process. It is interesting to note that mother's milk is the purest and most sterile milk for babies. Poisoning is highly unlikely even if the mother is infected with a disease. Breast milk could be given as frequently as possible and as long as the baby needs it. Factors like confusion, fear, pain, embarrassment and anxiety could hinder the production of milk.

Breast milk is the natural first food for babies, as it provides all the energy and nutrients that an infant needs for the first months of life. It continues to provide up to half or more of a child's nutritional needs during the second half of the first year.

Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea or pneumonia, and helps for a quicker recovery during illness.

However, breastfeeding may not be possible for all women. For many women, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed is based on their comfort level, lifestyle and other specific medical considerations that they may have.

For mothers who are unable to breastfeed or who decided not to, cow or soya-based infant formula is a good alternative that will meet a baby's nutritional needs.

Once a child reaches a year's old, they can be transitioned to whole milk or cow's milk.

Milk is a great source of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and magnesium. It will build the toddler's bones and teeth and help his body regulate his blood coagulation and muscle control. Almost all milk is fortified with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb the calcium it needs.

Milk also provides protein for growth, as well as carbohydrates, which gives the child the energy he needs to toddle all day!

If the child gets enough calcium from an early age, there is evidence that he will have a lower risk of suffering from high blood pressure, stroke, colon cancer and hip fractures later in life.

True allergies to cow's milk are relatively uncommon. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), only two to three per cent of children are allergic to milk, and 95 per cent of them outgrow it by age 3.

The AAP recommends children eat three servings of milk, flavoured milk, cheese or yogurt a day.

Research has shown that children who regularly avoid milk have lower bone mineral density and have more bone fractures.

Parents play an important role in establishing healthy dietary habits, and this includes the practice of including dairy foods in their own diets as well.

Women should totally avoid smoking and drinking alcohol during and after their pregnancies. Breastfeeding is not merely about mutually exclusive benefits for mother and baby, as it has considerable impact on society. Mothers must understand that babies have the right to receive nothing but the best source of nutrition. Any other food apart from breast milk is not encouraged, except under certain circumstances.

Benefits to the baby:

* Mother's milk contains protein, fat and the easily digestible omega 3 fatty acid essential for the brain development of the baby.

* The milk contains antibodies which protect the baby against infection, gastrointestinal disease, respiration difficulty and ear infection.

* It could also reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer among children.

* Children who are breastfed develop resistance to allergy.

* Breast milk also reduces the risk of gastro-enteritis among premature babies.

* Breast milk is known to reduce the risk of caries, sight and speech related problems and is known to strengthen the jaw.

* Breastfeeding prevents sudden death syndrome in the baby.

* Breast milk is known to reduce the risk of heart attack in adulthood.

* Breastfed infants are not prone to diarrhoea, thus reducing medical expenses.

* Breastfeeding strengthens the bond between mother and baby.

Benefits to the mother:

* Protection from breast and cervical cancer.

* Naturally reduces weight especially around the waist as the oxytocin hormone helps to shrink the uterus faster.

* This process helps to shorten the puerpurium flow period.

* Hastens post delivery wound recovery.

* Reduces the risk of osteoporosis and heart problem.

* Cost effective alternative to infant formula.

* Breastfeeding acts as a natural family planning device.

* Breastfeeding helps fulfill the responsibility of being a mother Benefits to the society:

* New parents could spend their time effectively with their family and the community.

* Reduces treatment, medical and lab test costs.

* Conserves the environment by reducing pollution and unnecessary wastage.

* Children with fewer health complaints indirectly help the parents become more productive at work.

Animals Milk

The ability to domesticate animals and reap the benefits of milk is a man's greatest success story. Ten thousand years ago, when humans were still hunters, someone was smart enough to say 'wait, don't kill these animals. Use them for milk'. Whoever that person was, he was certainly one of the greatest geniuses in human history. The success story of milk has continued undeterred since and that in itself is proof of its benefits, efficacy and safety

Yet in different parts of the world, different animals have been the source of its supply. 

In Britain and among other English-speaking people, the cow furnished most of the milk supply. In Spain, a great deal of the milk comes from sheep. The desert tribes of Arabia get milk from the camel. In Egypt, the water buffalo is a source of milk, In Lapland, reindeer furnish milk to the people.

In Peru, the Llama is a milk-producing animal. In Tibet, the people get milk from the yak. And in many countries, the goat is an important supplier of milk.

Is all milk the same? The answer is no. Each animal produces milk especially suited for its own young.

Cow's milk is intended for a calf and not for a human baby. Cow's milk has less sugar, more salts, and four times as much casein, an important protein substance, as human milk.

While milk differs a great deal, depending on the species of animal, it always contains fat, protein, carbohydrate, and minerals.

No matter which milk people drink in different parts of the world, they obtain these vital substances for nourishment.

The last milk to be drawn at each milking is richer in fat than the rest, so a good job of milking can produce richer milk from the same cow than a poor job.

Besides milk, there are other ways to ensure an adequate supply of milk in one's diet, and this is through dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, and ice-cream.

Cheese is a food consisting of proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. It is produced by coagulation of the milk protein casein. Typically, the milk is acidified and the addition of rennet causes coagulation. The solids are then separated and pressed into final form. Some cheeses also contain moulds, either on the outer rind or throughout.

Yogurt is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. Fermentation of the milk sugar (lactose) produces lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give yogurt its texture and its characteristic tang. Soy yogurt, a non-dairy yoghurt alternative, is made from soy milk. It is nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, combined with fruits or other ingredients.

Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners. In some cases, artificial flavourings and colour is also used. This mixture is stirred slowly while cooling to prevent large ice crystals from forming; the result is a smoothly textured ice cream.
Here are some essential but little known facts about milk.


* A growing body research suggests that eating dairy foods, especially low-fat varieties, may help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.


* There is strong evidence to suggest that a high intake of calcium and calcium-rich foods (such as milk and dairy products) helps to lower the risk of colon cancer. Similarly, preliminary research data also suggests that drinking milk may be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.


* Contrary to popular belief, fat from milk is not a major contributor to your daily fat intake. In fact, there is far less fat in milk than many people think. Even whole milk contains only 3.9 per cent fat. With only one per cent fat, low fat milk has less than half the fat of whole milk.


* Milk and dairy products are some of the best natural sources of calcium. To obtain the same amount of calcium as a 200ml glass of milk, you will need to consume either four servings of broccoli, 7 1/2 slices of white bread, 11 servings of spinach or 15 servings of red kidney beans.