Milk is our most valuable food, and there is no other which affords greater service in maintaining the health of man-kind. That this is the case is best proven by the fact that among those who not only attain the age of 100 years, but even exceed it, we find many who live solely upon milk, or in whose diet milk occupies a very prominent place.
That a person living chiefly upon milk may reach the normal limits of a lifetime, or even go beyond it, is not surprising when we remember that there is no form of diet which exerts so marked a protective influence upon our organs as that of milk. By virtue of the absence of a large amount of ex-tractive substances, a food is provided for the liver and kidneys, as well as the blood-vessels, which contains as little material as possible of an irritating nature. Since no uric acid is formed by it, milk is one of the best preventives against gout. Since, with a milk diet, lactic acid is formed in considerable quantities in the intestines, the development of an injurious intestinal flora and the formation of decomposition products are prevented,a fact which, according to Metchnikoff, is of great importance for the prolongation of life. I might add also, as has already been stated, that milk contains the secretions of the ductless glands, which, as we have shown in our work on “Old Age Deferred,” govern all the life processes, and upon the condition of which longevity depends. We not only absorb in the milk the secretion of the thyroid gland, but also the internal secretions of other organs, and, at the same time, milk provides a food by which such organs as the thyroid, the adrenals, the liver, kidneys, etc., are best protected and enabled satisfactorily to carry on their functions of detoxication. Milk can, however, only be accepted as really good when it is taken as it comes from the cow, that is, raw, and when there is certainty that it has been obtained from a healthy animal with the most stringent precautions. The cows must be kept in a thoroughly clean stable, from which the dejecta are carried off by special drainage. The milking staff should consist of healthy persons, who should put on clean white clothes for the milking and carefully wash their hands just before beginning. The udders should also previously have been washed. The process of milking could be accomplished in a still more cleanly manner if it were carried on by means of a suction apparatus operated with an air pump. After the milking the milk should at once be cooled and then be placed in sterilized bottles, as is done in the dairy of the Hagendorf domains, near Carlsbad, where the walls of the stalls are enameled and everything is conducted under the strictest hygienic precautions. Here the cows are frequently examined by veterinary physicians (this should, of course, always be the case) and the milk is only taken from cows which do not react to tuberculin.
It is necessary to keep the milk at a low temperature, as otherwise,. with the milk in a lukewarm condition, the development of bacteria is facilitated, so that after one or two hours the originally small number of these organisms is increased to many thousands.
The country would certainly have many more inhabitants if the obtaining of milk were controlled by the government; the infant mortality, especially during the summer, would thereby be reduced. When, owing to fear of the milk containing bacteria, children are fed upon pasteurized or boiled milk, they do not develop as well. That the same is true in the case of animals has been shown by the experiments of Behring. The experiments conducted by Palmer, of Chicago, who fed 700 children upon raw milk during the midsummer months and only lost 3 out of the number, are most instructive in this connection. As Monrad says, referring to the results obtained by Palmer, the history of all his cases showed that the miserable atrophied children began to live from the moment treatment with raw milk was begun. I wish to add here that lactic acid bacilli are always present in raw milk to a greater or less degree, and that they prevent the formation of large numbers of other bacteria, such as those of typhoid fever, for instance. The latter cannot develop in raw milk, which may nevertheless give rise to the disease, since the bacteria are not destroyed immediately by the lactic acid bacilli. When the milk has been boiled or sterilized, however, typhoid bacilli which have gotten into it will remain in it for months, as well as other forms of poisonous bacteria which are injurious in children and are the cause of the so greatly dreaded summer diarrhea. Barlow’s disease in children has also been ascribed to the habitual use of boiled milk.
When raw milk free of all objections cannot be obtained, it is advisable to use another milk product, buttermilk. This, to be sure, is also milk, but it contains more lactic acid and less fat; milk prepared by Soxhlet’s method is likewise indicated.
It is not only milk that may contain the bacteria, but also the products obtained from it, such as cream and butter. In large establishments the butter is also pasteurized, which process is less damaging to butter than it is to milk, since the former is merely a fat-containing food, and the fat loses nothing by pasteurization except some of its taste. Butter treated in this way never tastes as fresh and good as the natural butter, nor does it have the same aroma. The bacilli of tuberculosis and of other diseases, such as typhoid fever, have not infrequently been found in butter. Teichert found tubercle bacilli in 22 per cent. of the Posen country-made butter. In view, however, of the quantities of butter which we regularly eat, a normal person need not fear its use.
Having overcome the obstacles in the way of obtaining a milk free from bacteria, we encounter another difficulty. If we are to take large amounts of milk, we must find it agreeable to the palate, or we shall soon grow tired of it. In order to get a really good, rich, palatable milka food containing as much fat and nitrogen as possiblethe cow must be fed with substances containing these elements. Here, as elsewhere in the field of our nutrition, the following principle holds good : In order to reap well, we must sow well. When the poor cow has been cheated by unscrupulous dealers, and swallows saw-dust or shavings in admixture with her food, she has plenty of material in her stomach, but it is not of such a nature as will increase the quantity or improve the quality of the milk. A nitrogenous food such as grass or corn favors the production of more fat in the milk, which is not accomplished by the simple addition of oil to the food. Potato peelings and brandy mash give an unnatural taste to the milk. The very best and most natural method of feeding is in the open meadow : the cows eat more and give much purer and better milk. Some cattle owners dislike to lose the manure in this way, but it should be remembered that the fields themselves are fertilized while the cows are feeding. The great fertility of the plains of Canada is said to be due to the fact that for hundreds of years they were fertilized by the bisons which were grazing upon them. That flatulence and diarrhea are sometimes caused in the cows by the dewy grass does not affect the milk in any way, if care and cleanliness are exercised so that the excreta do not contaminate it. The finest and best-tasting milk is to be found in those countries in which the cows are always in the fields, as in Holland and in England. From the fertile reclaimed swamps of Friesland the finest quality of milk and of butter is obtained. Damp countries like Holland, Denmark, and England have the finest grass and clover, and consequently furnish the best milk and butter. Much can be done to improve the quantity and quality of the grass when the ground is manured. As clover contains much potash and nitrogen the ground should be fertilized with these substances.
Even though the very purest and best milk be obtainable it may happen that its use will be interfered with, owing to difficulties from the standpoint of the consumer which will render the drinking of it impossible.
Some persons possess an antipathy to milk, which, in its ordinary form, is not well tolerated by their stomachs. This is especially noticeable in women and young girls. In such cases the milk may be diluted one-third with some alkaline mineral water, such as Biliner or Vichy-celestins. The addition of some fine flour may also render the milk more digestible and, hence, better borne. Small children, too, sometimes prefer milk given to them in this form. For those who can-not tolerate ordinary milk at all the more easily digested buttermilk may be of great service.
At all events, the milk products, such as butter and cheese, may be used in such cases. It would be a good thing for us to adopt the custom which prevails in America, of eating some butter with each meal. In the restaurants there, butter is furnished without charge, along with the other food ordered. Unfortunately the butter is always salted in America, and, while it may be preferred in this way by some, it is by no means as healthful as fresh butter.
The use of cheese after each meal at which much meat has been partaken of would be advisable ; in healthy persons it would be of service in favoring the assimilation of food, and where an abundant meat diet is taken intestinal decomposition will be hindered by the use of cheese and butter.
The other advantages of a milk diet will be treated of in the chapter on the milk-vegetarian diet.