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June 18, 2007

Not milk? June National Dairy Alternative Month

June is National Dairy Month, according to the National Dairy Council. What many folks may not know, is that the month of June is also National Dairy Alternative Month.

A growing number of Americans (not just the lactose intolerant) are adopting a dairy-free lifestyle, and many are touting the health benefits of this lifestyle change.

For some, it may be a matter of necessity. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, there are some 30-50 million Americans who are lactose intolerant, and a number of others who are allergic to dairy.

For others, it is a matter of choice.

Some choose dairy free because of a general health concern over growth hormones, antibiotics and other drugs given to dairy cows to increase milk production. Some would like to cut the saturated fat found in many dairy products out of their diet, and others may simply choose to refrain from consuming animal products altogether.

Americans have grown up in a dairy culture and are taught, since childhood, that dairy is vital for good heath. Milk is the de facto beverage in a school lunch, and nutrition classes emphasize the necessity of the dairy group. Even into adulthood, there is no shortage of TV and magazine advertisements that feature constant reminders for the public to drink its milk.

What many people may not realize, though, is that adult milk drinkers are actually a minority in the world.

According to Robert M. Kradjian, M.D. and Breast Surgery chief, Division of General Surgery at Seton Medical Centre in Daly City, Calif.: “You may be surprised to learn that most of the human beings that live on planet Earth today do not drink or use cow's milk. Further, most of them can't drink milk because it makes them ill.”

Kradjian continued to explain that out of all the animals on Earth, only humans (and then only a minority of humans, mostly Caucasians), continue to consume milk beyond babyhood.

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