When, in 1970, the then UK Secretary of State for Education Margaret Thatcher abolished free school milk in schools instead of being branded 'Thatcher the milk snatcher' she might have actually been applauded for doing children a huge favor.
According to Angela Epstein of the UK Daily Mail Newspaper studies in Finland have suggested children in later life may be vulnerable to insulin dependent diabetes after exposure to cow's milk. In 2008 Sharjah University in the United Arab Emirates joined up with Baghdad University to investigate the rejuvenating properties of Camels milk on the immune system and initial findings seem positive especially in the fight against cancer. There are also frequent reports of allergic reaction to bovine milk and lactose intolerance is very well documented. Today there are alternatives, most recently being the emergence of milk from the Camel, although this white bluish elixir has been known by Middle Eastern Bedouins for its medicinal properties for centuries and the Cushite people of Kenya have long favored Camel milk over that of the cow.
The Camel has lower fat and cholesterol content in its milk, contains ten times more iron and three times more vitamin C than cow's milk. Some research suggests that Camel milk contains up to 52 units of Insulin for every one liter of milk which could lead to a reduction in the need for insulin in diabetic patients. Most interestingly in Autism there are reports of increased verbal skills, sleep patterns and improved interaction with others. This being the case perhaps the revered Camel can improve the overall wellbeing of mental health patients given the known link between poor sleep and depression. Caution should however be shown when considering drinking unpasteurized milk as it has been shown to cause brucellosis, a disease which causes sweating and muscle pain.
Today Camel milk has started limited production in the USA after the efforts of Doctor Millie Hinkle of the American Camel Coalition to convince the FDA of its health benefits. The United Arab Emirates has been commercially producing Camel milk since 2006 and there are moves to export camel milk in powdered form to Asia following inspection by European officials. In the United Kingdom Camel milk will soon be available to the general public, all be it in specialist stores and the fast food giant Burger king is already stocking the product in certain outlets within the UAE.
Health nutritionists and other health care professionals in particular nurses can, where appropriate, play an important part in discussing alternatives to cow's milk with their patients. Hospital canteens could introduce Camel milk into their 'healthier alternative options' menu. The public needs to be able to make informed decisions about food products including any potential health concerns; this is where health care professionals can make a real difference - by providing that information.