Milk. White Poison or Healthy Drink?


Over the last decade, milk has become a bit controversial. Some people say it’s a necessary and nutritious food, vital for healthy bones, but others say it can cause cancer and lead to an early death. So, who’s right? And why are we drinking it anyway? [Intro music] Milk is the basis of every mammal’s diet after birth, when our digestive systems are immature and small. Basically, it’s power food to kick-start our bodies and help us grow. Milk is rich in fat, vitamins, minerals, and milk-sugar: lactose. On top of that, for a while after birth, it also contains antibodies and proteins that protect us from infections and regulate our immune system. But it’s a lot of effort for mothers to produce. Eventually, humans stop drinking mother’s milk and transition to the diet of their parents. This is how it’s been for thousands of years. Until about eleven thousand years ago, when our ancestors settled down in the first agricultural communities. Soon, they domesticated the first dairy animals: goats, sheep, and cattle. They found that dairy animals are able to eat useless and abundant stuff and turn it into nutritious and tasty food. This made a huge difference in terms of survival, especially in hard times. So groups that had milk available had an evolutionary advantage. And through natural selection, it changed the genes of communities who consumed a lot of it. This adaptation has to do with a specialized enzyme: lactase. Babies have a lot of it in their system, so they can break down the milk-sugar lactose and digest milk easily. But the older we grow, the fewer lactase enzymes our body produces. Worldwide, about 65% of the population do not have the enzyme after infancy, which means they are not able to digest more than about 150 milliliters each day. This lactose intolerance is not spread evenly around the world, though. In some East Asian communities, for example, it’s up to 90%. In Northern Europe and North America, the rates are the lowest overall. There are probably a few reasons for this uneven distribution. The trait was first introduced by random mutation, which happened independently of each other in a few populations. The fact that farming replaced hunting and gathering more and more created natural-selection pressure. People who were able to digest lactose had more foods at hand, which was an advantage. The migration of dairy farmers to the north then spread it further, which probably pushed back populations there that didn’t have the trait. Okay, but if milk has been a valuable part of our diet for thousands of years, why is it so controversial? There are a number of claims regarding the negative and positive health effects of milk. The negative ones cover a wide variety, from brittle bones to cancer, and cardiovascular diseases to intolerance and allergies. So, how do they hold up? Some older studies found a connection between milk and a high risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer But meta analyses found no impact on your cancer risk. On the contrary, the calcium in milk might even have a protective effect against colon cancer. Although this could be calcium in general, it’s not clear milk plays a role in this effect. Only studies on prostate cancer showed an increased risk for people who consumed more than one and a quarter liters of milk a day. But again, the association is inconsistent and other studies don’t find any effects. We discuss these studies in more detail in our sources document. All in all, the research seems to show that if you drink between 100 to 250 milliliters of milk per day, cancer is not a concern. Similarly, meta-analyses could not find any impact from milk or dairy products on your risk of heart disease, stroke, or your total mortality. Some studies even suggested that high blood pressure might be rarer in people who eat a lot of dairy, although the evidence is not strong enough to claim this with confidence. The case gets more complicated though when we look at bones. A number of studies found neither positive nor negative effects for adults. What most people worry most about though are harmful amounts of pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones. There are hormones in milk, but only in very low concentrations. For example to get the same amount of hormones as from the pill, you’d need to drink about 5000 litres of milk, and even if you did, most hormones would be destroyed by your digestive system before they could affect you, which is the reason why so much medication is coated to protect it from our digestion. For pesticides and antibiotics, there are regulations in most parts of the world that only allow completely harmless amounts. Milk that surpasses these thresholds is not allowed to go on the shelf. So there’s nothing in particular to worry about. Besides allergies and those suffering from lactose intolerances, the best known negative effects of milk are probably acne and general discomfort after drinking milk or eating dairy products, and here the effects are very real. For example, skimmed milk has been found to statistically increase the rate of acne by 24%. Allergies against milk products are especially prevalent among children, with one in 18 kids in Germany suffering from them. In general, these allergies tend to get better or disappear as they grow older though. Okay. Is milk healthy then? Milk, no matter if it comes from mothers, cows, sheep, goats, or camels is a nutrient-dense food. It contains all necessary macronutrients and many micronutrients. Especially in regions where people struggle to get enough calories, milk can contribute to a healthy life and lower child mortality. For those living in the developed world, in general milk is not harmful if you are not allergic or intolerant to it. Especially for children, it’s a good way to get large amounts of calcium and for vegetarians, it’s a good source of vitamin b12 and B vitamins in general. This does not mean there are not other alternatives with the same effect. You do not need to drink milk to be healthy Milk is also definitely not a substitute for water. Milk is power food, and the additional calories from drinking a lot of it on a regular basis can contribute to being overweight. Especially flavored milk or chocolate milk is more comparable to beverages like lemonade than a healthy snack, and there’s another thing to consider. Milk production has a significant impact on the global climate. About 33 percent of cropland is used to feed grazing animals including dairy cattle Even though the carbon footprint of dairy products has declined since 1990, Dairy production is still responsible for 3 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, even more than all airplanes combined. Milk is a huge industry and sadly, most of its production in factory farms causes incredible suffering. Cows are impregnated over and over, separated from their young shortly after birth, and slaughtered once their tortured bodies are not productive anymore. We can’t ignore that much of the milk we consume stems from an industry that is basically torture and contributes to climate change. What about plant-based milk? In terms of protein levels and nutritional value, only soy milk can compare to cow milk. The others need to be artificially enriched to reach similar levels of vitamins and calcium. So they can be an alternative to milk. And another option might be available soon. Several startups have created non-animal milk that is nutritionally identical to dairy milk, for example, through fermentation by gene modified bacteria. This lab-grown milk can even be turned into cheese, something that plant based alternatives struggle with because they lack casein and whey protein, the key ingredients that give dairy its taste and structure. The environmental impact is a different story though. Many milk alternatives use significantly less energy, land and less water to produce so they have a much lower environmental impact than animal milk. If you want to have the lowest possible negative impact on the planet, the best choice is whatever milk alternative is regional. As with almost any topic milk is complicated. It’s not harmful for the majority of the population and it’s crucial for many people around the world. It’s good, nutritious food, but also harmful to the planet and causes a lot of suffering. We need to decide as a society how we want to deal with these facts. If you feel like watching more documentary style videos now, check out CuriosityStream. A subscription streaming service with thousands of documentaries and non-fiction titles and sponsor of this video. With a CuriosityStream subscription, you also get Nebula for free a streaming service owned and operated by education content creators like CGP Grey, Lindsay Ellis or Knowing Better. A place to experiment, where creators are safe from the fun things YouTube throws at us from time to time. And, there are also originals like TierZoo’s Let’s Play Outside, a fun video remix of a popular curiosity stream documentary! Nebula is included with CuriosityStream for our viewers when you sign up at: So summarizing; CuriosityStream gives you access to big-budget documentaries from people like David Attenborough and Stephen Hawking. Nebula is all about independent creators taking control and try new stuff. You get the best of both worlds for $2.99 per month or only $19.99 for a full year, by visiting: curiositystream.com/kurzgesagt [Outro music]

100 Comments

  1. Curiosity Stream gives you access to big budget documentaries from people like David Attenborough and Stephen Hawking. Nebula is all about independent creators taking control and trying new stuff. You get the best of both worlds for $ 2.99 per month or only $19.99 for a full year by visiting CuriosityStream.com/kurzgesagt.

  2. Wow new intro every year

  3. I appreciate the unbias in this how it shows from all angles and doesnt fill it with BS

  4. Auto immune disease is caused by dairy

  5. Wait you said it's not harmful to most people around the world in the same video you said more than 50% of the world's population have an intolerance to it…

  6. Yeahhh so when you say 3% of green house gas emissions you mean 3% of all emissions contributed by humans rather than 3% of all green house gas emissions of which humans contribute less than 1%. So that’s kinda manipulative to word it that way.

    Also animal suffering is pretty nebulous. What constitutes suffering for an animal that seems to enjoy literally standing in one spot eating grass all day. Is it the slaughter or breeding part that’s bad or is it just the scale of it all?

    The health part is pretty funny though. Basically “white people are fine, non-white people maybe watch out maybe not u prob didn’t evolve on this shit”

    Kinda seems like the only complicated part is the cruelty bit and that’s really more of a general veganism debate. So really what’s the point?

  7. We have to get rid of milk………by drinking it

  8. No. You can't convinced me to be a vegan.

  9. Honestly though… What man and woman decided, " hey, I don't want to breastfeed… Let's give them cow milk and see what happens "

  10. did I see dat boi?

  11. Milk is 25% more hydrating then water.

  12. @Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
    can you do a video on why humans dont utilize humans milk some people can make money from the milk they produce and it coukld be pasterized and all that just like cow milk and i feel like the human body produces rthe same stuff it needs it would be an overall a better idea it would give siome woman a chance to make money they were unable to prior
    anyway pls do a video on this i think it could be a big impact on the future of humans if we were to overcome the difficulties of not being able to produce human milk ata decent scale everyone knows the woman brest will continue to make milk as long as its continued to be used so making a pump machine room that could test the woman for diseases with a prick a drop of blood and then the machine could tell you if you pass and can start to pump

  13. Hey, can you guys do an episode on sitting and it’s impact on your health?

  14. Someone I know had to stop drinking milk. Swapped to almond milk. Suddenly got very tired and found out that she has to take calcium supplements.

  15. 6:30 did he really say vit – amins..

  16. It's also just so fucking weird we drink milk from another mammal. Just take a second and realise how disgusting that really is.

  17. Who is drinking over a liter of milk a day? 🤔

  18. I’ll never stop drinking whole milk i don’t care if I get a pimple

  19. the '90: lol drinks milk, such a pussy
    2000: omg drinks milk, such a reckless

  20. so, milk is not the problem; farming method it is.

  21. Imagine being deprived of all your breast milk to supply the young of an exploitive and cruel species of bipeds.

    This post was made by the Homo Sapien gang.

  22. I love milk

  23. Please make video about coronavirus

  24. the part about the factory farms is very exaggerated. dairy factory farms are declining rapidly. In New Zealand factory farms are unheard of.

  25. All vegans liking this video at 7:02

  26. If you are biased you can find sources to support any opinion. Also, statistics do not tell YOU if you are allergic, lactose intolerant, are getting acne from milk, or are not digesting the calcium in the milk you are drinking. Have your Doctor run specific tests on you and don't diagnose yourself with regional statistics and blanket statements.

  27. Milk isn’t bad

  28. I want try some of this lab cheese.

  29. New intro is dope

  30. It's nasty af

  31. Me: have drink blood
    Friend:yes we live philpines idiot
    Me: oh right we drink cook roast them
    And milk beacause there made of blood
    Friend wait wahat

  32. Hey please do a vid about sleeping back posture and mattresses 👌

  33. They should farm human milk.

  34. The moment the tone changes from information giving to telling me which milk to buy is the moment I dislike. It's good to put your opinion out there but don't swoop in with that towards the end of a video that has been entirely informational.

  35. Except the cow milk we drink also contain blood, puss and a load of antibiotics. I shifted to soy milk and been happy ever since. I love the Japanese brand I drink.

  36. HE NEED SOME MILK

  37. Plz explain why the human race should be drinking another species milk that's meant for their baby?

  38. Soy is absolutely horrible I would stay away from it as much as possible. Almost impossible since it's used in everything though.

  39. I need a Moo-tang clan sweater now

  40. Wooow nice intro 🔥🔥🔥

  41. Literally everyone: man milk is super healthy for you, how can’t you like this

    Nutshell dudes: bet you didn’t know everyone hates milk, including you

  42. Do a video about the corona virus from wuhan?

  43. Me watching this video while drinking milk tea

  44. I literally only clicked on this video to point out how great of a stripper name “White Poison” would be.

  45. 4:09 Vegans get debunked here really hard.

  46. So no one’s going to talk about how they made an incredibly beautiful new intro?

  47. Amazing video, very informative. I was wondering if there could be a gluten/gluten free/coeliac disease video?

  48. Infographic show?

  49. "We can try milk that is plan-"
    No. Catch me outside with fake vegan crap.

  50. I like the new intro.

  51. lactose intolerance gang rise up

  52. Moo-tang for the children!

  53. Kurzgesagt: Is milk good for you?
    Also Kurzgesagt: 65% of the world is intollerant
    Still Kurzgesagt: It's complicated

    Is it tho then? Sounds more like unless you are in the 35% of ppl that can tollerate it, it AIN'T GOOD FOR YOU amigo.

  54. Could have mentioned that soy has a negative effect on males.

  55. MILCH IST GIFT

  56. Moloko plus

  57. Watching this video drinking my soy milk

  58. What I clicked on: Milk, White Poison it Healthy Drink?

    What I got: I'm vegan

  59. As a Doctor in food science and a Doctor in veterinary medicine, I have spotted various mistakes on the claims that this video makes. I'd like to give you a detail report with the facts. Could you please indicate who is the author of the content? Best.

  60. Is milk unhealthy?
    Me: im dying XD

  61. Nice New Intro!

  62. So milk is fine then.
    Great. I'll continue to rarely drink it.

  63. How!! New Intro!!!

  64. I think it's disingenuous to call out that some plant milks need fortification to be equal to milk but not call out that all the "amazing b12 in cows milk" is essentially fortification also. Cows are given supplementation to ensure they meet appropriate levels. How is that any different than fortified plant based milks?

  65. Next video: Does Breathing Cause Cancer?

  66. Looks like pro-agriculture propoganda, I didn't know this channel was funded by Warren Buffet's Dairy Queen.

  67. plant-based milk <3
    – free the cows
    – better for the environment
    – better for the human health
    – many different options to taste

  68. In a nut shell in a nut shell:
    Diferance between poison and health food is quantity

  69. 9:51 Kulu-Ya-Ku VS Anjanath

  70. everybody get their own cow.

  71. I like your new intro

  72. Loved the bearded representation of a vegetarian!

  73. Milk is great

  74. video about coronavirus?

  75. Acne is what got me off of milk. And an increasing lactose intolerance in high school. Industrial practices killed off any other interests I had in dairy. Before all that, I drank and ate dairy almost daily, but dropping it was easy.

  76. Let's assume a healthy environment has healthy organisms – the environment may be pointing out the fact. If the use of milk helped evolution steer in a direction we should rather use what was gained and avoid the catastrophe – surely with the advanced agricultural technology of today (2020) we could survive the harsh winters without tying animals up?

  77. Lol I drink like 1.5 liters of milk a day. I'm 17

  78. What about the stuff about soy milk having lots of estrogen? I did read you'd have to drink A LOT before it realistically did anything, but then again it might have an effect over a long term.

  79. Milk is a superfood..for who work hard and have no lactose intolarance

  80. Bean me up Scotty

  81. Like everything in life, use/drink in moderation.

  82. ich hoffe das unge darauf reagiert

  83. Imagine drinking dairy milk that cost more than soy milk but contain less nutrients than soy milk

    This post was made by Soy Boy Gang

  84. watching this while drinking my daily glass of milk and cookies

  85. in germany we called: "Milch ist Gift"
    -unge

  86. Pls make about the corona virus

  87. 6:25 Well i guess Kurzgesagt favorite rap group is Moo-Tang

  88. Rice Pudding Allllll Dayyy 😉

  89. You showing India as lactose intolerant 😂😂 i cant imagine India without people drinking milk, making paneer cheese and yogurt literally everyday 😂😂😂😂

  90. Rather not to drink it to at least help the environment a little bit

  91. 7:48 Regarding soy milk, you neglect to mention the negative health effects, especially on men. Phytoestrogen in soy milk causes higher estrogen levels in men than is normal or healthy. Had you been honest and mentioned the high risk of Gynecomastia development in boy and men who consume copious amounts of soy products in order to live up to your ridiculous sensibilities and standard, I'm sure many wouldn't be bamboozled by your words and imagery demonizing milk.

  92. This was bought to you by milk companies

  93. Let's be honest, the intro is really good ! How they made it ?

  94. i skipped my homework to watch a video about a liquid that i rarely drink. nice.

  95. There is another option on what milk tipe to drink,just grow your own cow/cow's!

  96. I can’t drink mass produced milk. It causes horrible acne. However, I’m absolutely fine with drinking farmers milk (unhomogenised and from cows who are fed only grass)

  97. i'm waiting for the coronavirus video form kurzgesagt

  98. Everything causes cancer….. many of you have cancer and don’t know and it will go away without you knowing either.

  99. So basically, kurzgesagt is vegan. Got it.

  100. Milk doesn‘t leave a good aftertaste in my mouth => I don‘t like it.

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