Is it Natural to Drink Milk

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Many people in popular culture today are spreading the notion that drinking milk is unnatural, and are suggesting to people that humans are not meant to drink milk.

In fact, P!nk, a popular pop artist in the U.S., included this very message in her music video for her song “Raise your glass.” Also, if you do a web search you can find thousands of articles on the internet from people proclaiming that milk drinking is unnatural. But is drinking milk really so unnatural? Lets look at this closer.

People have been Drinking Milk for Thousands of Years
The fact of the matter is that people have been drinking milk for thousands of years. Humans have depended on raising cows for meat and dairy products for a long time, and this is a well documented fact. In fact, Bloomberg recently published an article stating that dairy farming started 7,000 years ago according to milk residues. The article also notes that cave paintings have also been found suggesting that animal farming predated plant cultivation. So people were probably drinking milk before they were eating grains.

Granted however that dairy cows have not always been the source of milk throughout history. The kind of animal producing the milk depended largely on the climate. For example, in India and Pakistan milk is more likely to be from water buffalo, desert regions prefer camels, mountainous regions often use sheep and goats, and in northern climates elk and reindeer are the milk suppliers. So even though cows may not have been the source, people have been drinking milk for a long, long time.

Drinking milk is a product of Western culture, Right?
Not true, drinking milk is not a Western phenomenon. Many people today are taught that dairy farming is primarily a European invention, and that Asians and Africans can’t consume dairy products. Surprisingly this is factually untrue.

The same Bloomberg article as referenced above affirms that dairy farming did not start in Europe, and notes that dairy farming may have been developed in East Asia before 5,000 B.C, and from there, this technology may have been passed along west to Saharan Africa. According to the article, the researchers discovered this by using chemical analysis of milk residues that were absorbed into ancient pottery. The research is showing how Asia and Africa were instrumental in developing and spreading the dairy culture.

 Humans were drinking milk before they could digest it

Suggesting that Asians and Africans can’t consume dairy products poses a very unclear statement. Asian and African are not a race, but made up of many different people and cultures. Some cultures in Asia and Africa depend very much on milk and dairy. A great example is India, noting that India has the largest dairy herd of any country in the world, and is one of the leading countries for dairy consumption. Another great example is the Masai in Africa. The Masai practically exist on milk, and depend on the cows for both their income and food source.

Drinking milk is not a product of Western culture, but in fact a shared part of human existence.

Lactose Intolerance must prove that drinking milk is unnatural
Many people may cite the fact that because a large number of people have difficulties digesting lactose, drinking milk is unnatural.

While some people may be lactose intolerant, humans are definitely meant to drink milk. Humans produce the enzyme lactase whose only function is to break down the lactose in milk. If it were unnatural for humans to drink milk, why would adults continue to produce this enzyme when they are fully grown.

An intolerance should not be a qualifier for what is natural. For example, no human produces the enzyme alpha-galactosidase which is necessary to break down certain carbohydrate in beans. I don’t think there’s anyone proclaiming that beans are unnatural because we can’t fully break them down.

Humans are the only species that consume milk into adulthood
Humans may be the only specie that continues to drink milk into adulthood, but that may be because we retain the ability to digest milk.

Ruminants like cows, and sheep are born wholly dependent on milk. Eventually though, cows will lose the ability to digest milk. Their digestive system changes, allowing them to survive exclusively on grasses and grains.

However, human digestion is not designed be wholly dependent on grasses and grains, and there is no significant change in the digestive system of humans as we mature. Humans continue produce the enzyme lactase throughout adulthood, albeit in gradually lower amounts.

The fact that humans do not have a significant change in their digestive system, and that humans continue producing lactase into maturity provides a great basis for why humans are designed to consume milk even in maturity.

No other specie consumes the milk of another specie
Probably the main argument of people proclaiming drinking milk is unnatural is that no other specie consumes the milk of another specie. This is simply faulty logic.

If you take the same logic and apply it to other things, there would be a large number of things that would be unnatural. For example, we grow our own food, wear clothes, speak languages, drive cars, ect. There are a large number of things that would then be declared as unnatural.

This argument is very flawed, yet many people seem to be very attached to this reason. People need to recognize the faulty logic of this argument.

Naturally – Drinking Milk is Natural
So is drinking milk unnatural? I think there are a large number of facts pointing out that drinking milk is natural, and has been a natural part of our society for thousands of years. Researchers are finding a lot of evidence confirming that milk has been part of human existence since the dawn of time.