One food group that the 123Diet strictly limits is dairy. We suggest that dieters consume only a one tablespoon "milk allowance" per day, and there are plenty of very good reasons that anyone health-conscious should watch their milk intake carefully.

Don't get me wrong, milk and other dairy products do have their benefits. For example, they're a good source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein, things that many people on a typical American diet aren't consuming enough of.

However, according to Harvard nutrition scientist Vasanti Malik, "Dairy isn’t necessary in the diet for optimal health." When you think about it, why should it be? People have only started drinking milk and eating other dairy products fairly recently in their evolutionary history, around 6,000 years ago; that means we did fine for over 100,000 years without it!

In fact, we are the only animals on the planet to drink milk after we have been weaned, as well as the only animals to drink milk produced by another species! The unnatural nature of lifelong milk drinking is evidenced by the fact that a full 65 percent of people lose the ability to digest the lactose in milk after their infancy, causing them to become lactose intolerant. This condition is even more common in Asian Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include upset stomach, cramps, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. So, if you find yourself feeling queasy after a milky coffee, you may want to try eliminating dairy products entirely.

Additionally, cow's milk is a very common allergen, especially for children. While some children who are allergic to milk experience obvious symptoms like vomiting and anaphylaxis, they can also have hidden reactions like intestinal bleeding that may eventually result in serious health problems like anemia.

Milk can also stimulate the release of insulin which can increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and a whole host of other health problems. It also contains casein, a protein which increases our levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (aka IGF-1.)

Increased IGF-1 levels have been linked to cancers of the bowel, breast and prostate, as well as to previously benign tumors becoming malignant. Meanwhile, reducing IGF-1 levels has been found to slow prostate cancer's progression. The inflammatory nature of milk has also been linked to Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and worsened symptoms of arthritis.

Plus, because cows are often milked after they have already been reimpregnated, even organic milk often contains high levels of the female hormones estradiol and progesterone.

These hormones can cause lower testosterone levels in men, earlier puberty in children, and increased risk of certain cancers in women. One study found that women who consumed four or more servings of dairy a day had double the risk of ovarian cancer. Animal rights enthusiasts should note that this perpetual pregnancy can also cause many health problems for the cow and decrease her lifespan up to 75 percent.

Even the widely espoused idea that dairy is good for bone health may be a misconception. One recent study found no link between dairy consumption and risk of fractures. Another study even found an increased risk of fractures in men who had consumed more milk as adolescents. You can also consider that the countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption, such as Africa and Asia, have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

One reason for this may be that the calcium content of milk is so high that it can cause dysregulation in the way our bodies use Vitamin D. The body may also leach calcium from the bones to combat the acidosis caused by milk's excessively high concentration of sulfur.

The similarities between foreign peptides in milk and our own proteins has also been hypothesized to "confuse" our immune system into attacking our own body, thus increasing our risk of devastating autoimmune disease like type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

There may indeed be some truth to this PETA mantra: "If she’s not your mom, it’s not your milk." The more you think about where dairy comes from, the weirder and grosser it gets!

If milk really has so many downsides, why do so many people think it's so healthy? For one thing, because of misleading campaigns by the dairy industry! However, despite what big dairy wants us to think, no evidence can definitively link milk to either health or weight loss, and plenty of evidence can be found for its risks.

Though 124 calories in a cup of whole milk may not sound too high, consider that such a cup contains a full 3 g of harmful saturated fat, along with 12 g of sugar and no fiber to balance it out. Plus, you probably rarely drink milk by itself; it just makes your meal or snack more fattening without making it much more filling.

Milk's high protein and calorie content might be worth the risk if you are trying to gain large amounts of muscle, or have a medical condition that makes it difficult for you to get adequate nutrition. On your typical weight loss diet, though, there are far better beverage options.

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