People of European descent can drink milk and the rest of the globe has lactose intolerance. Black Africans are 98 percent lactose intolerance and numbers for lactose intolerance in Asia are similar (1).
Scientific research confirmed in different ancient European genome studies that the hunter-gatherers in Europe could not digest lactose in milk at 8000 years ago. The first Europeans that domesticated wild animals were also unable to consume milk. The settlers who came from the Near East about 7800 years ago also had lactose intolerance. The Yamnaya pastoralists who came to Europe from the eastern steppes around 4800 years ago also had lactose intolerance.
It was not until about 2300 BC about 4300 years ago, in the early Bronze Age, that lactose tolerance swept through Europe (2). When we look at today’s world most of the population still can’t digest milk. If lactose intolerant individuals consume lactose-containing products, they may experience bloating, nausea, abdominal pain, flatulence, and diarrhea.
Lactose is split down into a regular usable sugar by a specific enzyme called lactase created by cells in the wall lining of the small intestine (3). Production of lactase is turned off in mammals in adulthood because mammals breastfeed only in the first periods after birth. Later in life in average conditions, it is not necessary to have this enzyme because no mammal will ever breastfeed again, except humans. Grown mammalian species do not breastfeed, and the organism is adapted to turn enzymes off to save energy. By domesticating wild animals and milking them, early farmers changed the condition of their habitat, and in time organism adapted.
Today only descendants of the European farmers can still digest milk. Black Africans cannot. Asians cannot. The statistic for lactose intolerance is like this. Approximately 65 percent of the entire human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. In comparison, 5 percent of people of Northern European descent are lactose intolerant.
There is, however, a lot of substances in milk that we cannot tolerate. Even if we are from dairy queen countries we still can’t cope very well with things like cholesterol, a form of Lacto morphine called casomorphin, and estradiol (dairy consumption account for 60 to 80 percent of all estrogen consumed in the typical American diet). Opiates from mother’s milk produce a sedative effect on the infant. That sedative effect is responsible for a good measure of the mother-infant bond. Milk has a drug-like effect on the baby (or other mammalian cubs), and it guarantees that the baby will bond with the mom and proceed to the nurse and get the nutrients. It is an evolutionarily beneficial adaptation. Similar to heroin or codeine, casomorphins slow intestinal movements and have an antidiarrheal effect. The opiate effect is the reason why cheese can be constipating just as opiate painkillers are.
Lactase is an enzyme that allows the organism to digest milk sugar, and that sugar is lactose. Danes are only 2% lactose intolerant. What exactly this means?
All mammals after rejection from sucking are lactase deficient. They do not have contact with the milk later in life. The reactions of any organism that does not need to use the sugar lactose in adulthood are to deactivate the enzyme lactase so that the enzyme lactase is deactivated at the level of the genes. Except for the European farmers, which forced their bodies for thousands of years to consume it.
Thus, Danes today are only 2% non-tolerant, Finland 18%, Indians 50%, Israeli Jews 58%, African American 70%, Ashkenazi Jews 78%, Arabs 78%, Taiwanese 85%, Greek Cypriots 85%, Japanese 85%, Thailand 90%, Filipino 90%, Black African over 90% (3). WHO has put that number up, say that it is around 95% to 100%, for Indians 90 to 100, for Asians 90 to 95, for Mediterranean 60 to 75 and North American 10 to 15 and Europe 5 to 10 percent.
The real problem is that even if we are lactose tolerant lactose is metabolized in an unnatural way and is not meant to be consumed for an extended period of time. We have the enzyme lactase that breaks sugar lactose on dextrose and galactose. Half is glucose and the other half as galactose.
However, galactose cannot be used until it is digested in glucose. Cells only use glucose as fuel. There is an enzyme called beta-galactosidase that changes galactose into the glucose that we need. However, since no animal needs this enzyme after rejection, this enzyme is deactivated forever. Everyone, every human on the planet Earth if it is a grown individual has galactosidase deficiency. All of you who are reading this now and myself have a deficiency of beta-galactosidase. This means that if you consume sugar from milk meaning lactose if you are lactose tolerant you can use it, you have lactase. Lactase metabolizes lactose and you will get glucose and besides it galactose. Glucose will be used normally. And with galactose, what are we going to do? We cannot use it so where does galactose go?
Some of it gets ejected outside through the skin. Some end up in the eyes and are stored in the cornea. Elderly cataracts come from galactose. Adults who consume large amounts of milk, who have high lactase activity, often suffer from galactose accumulation of galactitol in the eye lobe and have a high likelihood of elderly cataracts (4).
Not only that, but it is also stored in the body in other places as well. Women are accumulating around the ovaries, and it is associated with cancer of the ovaries and infertility. One in four couples goes to infertility treatments in European countries. In African countries, where they do not use milk, they have no problems with infertility. It is unknown as a disease. In Daniel W. Cramer Harvard Medical School study (5 ) a link between the consumption of galactose and the increased risk of ovarian cancer was observed. Lactose intolerant women are likely to consume less lactose. They concluded that: “This finding suggests that decreased lactose intake early in life may reduce ovarian cancer risk although further studies are needed to confirm this finding.” For Thai women, for example, who do not consume milk, there is no infertility at the level of statistical significance. In Thailand where 98% of adults are lactose intolerant, the average fertility among women aged 35-39 years was only 26% lower than the maximum rate for ages 25-29 years. In Australia and the UK, where lactose intolerance affects only 5% of adult people the fertility rates for 35-39 years old are full 82% below the maximum rate for 25-29 years.
Besides the risks of milk consumption in lactose tolerant individuals that can drink milk, what will happen when an individual that is not tolerant of lactose drinks milk? Sugar from milk will be undigested. It will cause lactose to be broken down by bacteria in the intestines. Bacteria will start to multiply, this increases osmotic pressure, fluid flows into the intestines, and the individual gets diarrhea.
After World War 2, the U.S. had a big stockpile of powdered milk that they had to dispose of somehow. Instead, they decided that because there is a “protein gap” they send that powder milk to Africa as humanitarian aid. Many already malnourished children and babies got diarrhea from it. African countries that got milk powder sent as humanitarian aid experienced an increase in mortality especially in small children who were already at the level of severe malnutrition.
Passages selected from a book: “Go Vegan? Review of Science: Part 1” [Milos Pokimica]
- Lactose malabsorption and intolerance: a review. doi: 10.1039/c8fo00555a
- Genome flux and stasis in a five millennium transect of European prehistory https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms6257
- Country, regional, and global estimates for lactose malabsorption in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(17)30154-1
- Metabolism of lactose in the human body. DOI: 10.3109/00365529409091741
- Is Dietary Milk Intake Associated with Cataract Extraction History in Older Adults? An Analysis from the US Population. doi: 10.1155/2020/2562875
- Dairy foods and nutrients in relation to risk of ovarian cancer and major histological subtypes doi: 10.1002/ijc.27701
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