Milk studies

“The Idea That Milk Is A ‘Perfect Food’ Has Been Discredited” –

That’s projecting a bit much from one Swedish study.

Not sure what the word “perfect” is doing there, perfect for what.

Milk and eggs have a good chance of being the most perfect, given that they are designed by nature to be a complete source of nutrients early in the life of an organism.

Often there is a tension between what is good for longevity and what is good for vitality.  Sexual hormones are a classic example.  Low hormones sap vitality while extending lifespan.

Milk is a good source of calcium, but put in too much calcium and the body can overcompensate as it pumps out the excess.  Have too much calcium and the negative feedback response will actually leech it out of the bones. There are already studies on that.

Calcium is an important nutrient but it also is important in forming the plaques that lead to heart disease.

For years it was popular to give older women hormone supplements and extra calcium.

But that was more of a knee jerk reaction than medicine. 

If a woman has weak bones because she’s already got too much calcium in the diet and she’s given more, that may aggravate the problem.  It’s like the low fat diet fallacy that fat must be the source of fat.  Bones are made with calcium but that doesn’t imply that taking lots and lots of calcium will make the bones really strong.  That form of simplistic reasoning shows a lack of understanding of how biology works. 

Vitality is a related issue.  “Healthy” is a conclusion, not a physical state.  Different senses of the word are often conflated.

Hormones are important to vitality…but Eunuchs live on average 15 years longer.

Which gets to another point, while sometimes we think of something as healthy because it increases vitality, and sometimes because it increases longevity, there is an implicit and unexamined consensus that ultimately longevity and only longevity is the measuring stick to determine what is healthy.

So if a practice is proven to increase vitality but then leads to a 0.5% increase in the death rate there is general horror and there are questions about whether it is really “safe”.  A trivial increase in the death rate outweighs otherwise widespread benefit.  If it increases the death rate, it is “unhealthy”.

The Swedish study is interesting because it flags a significant increase in death rate.

Before looking at practices I’d look at genetics.

Groups that have only recent historical exposure to high carb diets have appalling rates of diabetes.  We should have a preliminary expectation that genetic groups will do better with diets they were exposed to for many generations. Natural selection will skew in favor of genes that work with that diet.

So a useful follow-up for the Swedes would be to distinguish between those of Swedish heritage and more recent imports.  They would have an otherwise similar environment but might have very different results for various food exposures including milk.


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