Tag Archives: Milk

Why You Should Take a Holiday from Dairy

Our current government guidelines recommend drinking three glasses of milk a day for every American over five.  For kids under five, Uncle Sam recommends chugging two glasses a day.  But is milk a health food?  Should we really be eating dairy?  Is there any real science behind this, or is this just the result of the powerful Dairy Council lobby?

Got proof?

I recently wrote a blog called Got Proof? The Lack of Evidence for Milk’s Benefits, which was based on a research article by Dr. David Ludwig and Dr. Walter Willett from Harvard, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  The study by Ludwig and Willett showed a lack of evidence for the government’s recommendations.  The Harvard scientists found no data to support the claim that the consumption of dairy leads to better bones, weight loss, or improved health.  They also found some serious risks tied to dairy consumption, including weight gain, increased cancer risk, and increased fracture risk.  It turns out milk does not build strong bones! They also found that dairy may cause other problems like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, gas, diarrhea, allergies, eczema, and acne.

So, is milk nature’s perfect food?  Yes. If you’re a calf.

Dairy should not be a dietary staple

While it is true that some people can tolerate dairy in small amounts—for example, descendants from Northern Europe and people who don’t have allergies, lactose intolerance, or a leaky gut—it should not be a staple of our diet.  We should not be putting it on or in everything.

Dairy contains some very allergenic proteins, such as casein, which can be problematic for many people.  And to make matters worse, the casein that’s in our modern dairy—sourced from modern, hybridized cows—has been genetically altered, creating a much higher likelihood of inflammation, autoimmune disease, and even type 1 diabetes.  With this in mind, I strongly recommend that you limit the amount of cow-sourced dairy that you consume.

If you want to eat dairy, I suggest you try goat and sheep dairy, such as sheep cheese and yogurt or goat cheese and yogurt, both of which are widely available now.  It is also important to choose organic when you can, because pesticides and chemicals are concentrated in the fat found in non-organic dairy.

This leads to another frequent question I receive: “Is organic dairy OK?”   Organic cows are often milked while pregnant, producing milk that’s full of hormones.  In fact, the average glass of milk has 60 different hormones in it.   These are anabolic hormones, which means they help you to grow. But not all growth is good.  You don’t want to grow cancer cells.  You don’t want to grow big bellies.  You don’t want to grow in ways that actually may be harmful.

What to do about dairy:

  1. Take a dairy holiday for two to four weeks, and see how you feel.  Does your postnasal drip go away, and do your sinuses clear up?  Does your acne go away?  Do you stop having bloating, gas, and diarrhea?  Do you have more energy?  Does your eczema clear up?  Do your allergies get better? These are some very simple things you should notice when you eliminate dairy.  Then try eating dairy again, and see how you feel.  Do these symptoms return?
  2. Stick with sheep or goat dairy if you do decide to eat dairy again, but try to avoid cow dairy.

The bottom line is, I don’t agree with the government’s recommendations regarding dairy consumption, and neither do some of the top scientists in the world.   Dairy should not be a dietary staple and you should certainly not have three glasses of milk every day.  Don’t listen to Uncle Sam on this one – listen to your body and to the science.  You’ll know what’s best.

Cute Alert: Animals Adopting Other Animals

Screen shot 2013-09-20 at 11.24.43 AMHappy Friday! We are bombarded with images of how cruel nature can be so often that we can forget how much animals can teach us about love and compassion.

Are humans the only ones capable of caring for children that aren’t their own? This video goes to show how universal the maternal instinct can be, even with animals you never thought would get along. Dogs with nursing kittens – and vice versa – to literal tiger moms and piglets – share their milk, comfort the young ones and adopt them as their own. Have you ever seen something so cute?

What did you think of the video? Share your favorite animal “love stories” with us in the comments below!

Got Proof? The Lack of Evidence for Milk’s Benefits

Got milk?There is no biological requirement for cow’s milk. It is nature’s perfect food but only if you are a calf. The evidence of its benefits is overstated, and the evidence of its harm to human populations is increasing.

The white mustached celebrities paid by the Dairy Council promote the wonders of milk in their “Got Milk” ads. Scientists are increasingly asking, “Got Proof?” Our government still hasn’t caught on, in part because of the huge dairy lobby driving nutrition guidelines. When I once lamented to Senator Harkin that all we wanted to do was to make science into policy, he cocked his head and with a wry smile and said, “that would make too much sense.”

And the media is also influenced heavily by advertising dollars. Once, when I was on Martha Stewart’s television show, the dairy lobby sponsored the episode, and her trainer was forced to mouth the talking points of the Dairy Council touting milk as a fabulous sports drink. Studies may show some benefit, but studies funded by the food industry show positive benefits eight times more than independently funded studies.

In a new editorial by two of the nation’s leading nutrition scientists from Harvard, Dr. David Ludwig and Dr. Walter Willett, in JAMA Pediatrics, our old assumptions about milk are being called into question. Perhaps it doesn’t help you grow strong bones, and it may increase the risk of cancer and promote weight gain.

It is bad enough that the dairy industry recently petitioned the FDA to sneak artificial sweeteners into chocolate milk. They want their “shake and eat it, too” by pushing milkshake-like flavored milk drinks into schools as a “healthier” option, even though they have 30 grams of sugar per cup. By cutting the sugar and adding artificial sweeteners to low fat or non-fat milk drinks, the idea is that they would be healthier. Except for the fact that recent studies have found that one diet drink a week increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 33 percent and a large diet drink increases the risk by 66 percent.

What about low fat milk or non-fat milk? These are the healthier options, right? Wrong.

Ludwig and Willett note that there is scant evidence that fat makes you fat, despite this commonly held mistaken belief. Reducing fat in milk reduces its ability to satisfy the appetite (which fat does) and can promote overeating and hunger. Often, the fat in the diet is replaced with sugar and refined carbohydrates, which clearly has been shown to promote obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Studies show that reducing fat in the diet, which parallels an increase in starch and refined carbohydrates in the diet, not only increases hunger but also may actually slow metabolism. In one study, Dr. Ludwig found that those who ate a low fat, higher glycemic diet burned 300 calories less a day that those who ate an identical calorie diet that was higher in fat and lower in glycemic load. For those who ate the higher fat, lower glycemic diet, that’s like exercising an extra hour a day without doing anything!

More concerning still is that, in studies of kids and adults, those who consumed low fat milk products gained more weight than those who ate the full fat whole milk products. They seemed to increase their overall intake of food because it just wasn’t as satisfying as the real thing. In fact, those who drank the most milk overall gained the most weight. It makes logical sense. Milk is designed to quickly turn a little calf into a big cow and contains over sixty different hormones, most designed to boost growth.

But shouldn’t we stick to low fat milk to reduce our intake of saturated fat? The fact is that, while your LDL or bad cholesterol goes down by reducing saturated fat in the diet, the protective cholesterol, HDL, actually goes up by eating saturated fat improving the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, which is the most important marker of your risk of heart disease. Switching out saturated fat for carbohydrates actually increased the risk of heart attack in a 12-year study of 53,544 adults. In fact, the whole story of the evil of saturated fats is in great debate. The evidence for linkage to heart disease turns out to be pretty weak indeed.

If you ate only whole foods, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains (not whole grain flour), you might be better off overall (although a recent scientific review of saturated fat dismissed the very notion that is it bad for you). But sadly, that is not what most Americans do when they switch to low fat.

The sad thing is that many schools and “healthy” beverage guidelines encourage the idea that flavored milk is better than soda and that getting kids to drink more milk by any means is a good idea. This is dangerously misguided.

There are 27 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of Coca Cola and a whopping 30 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of Nestlé Chocolate Milk. Sugar is sugar and drives obesity and diabetes. It is not a good way to get kids to drink milk.

But that begs the bigger question. Do kids need milk? Is milk necessary for healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis? The data are clear, but our government polices don’t reflect the science.

Dairy and milk products do not promote healthy bones. In a large meta-analysis, milk did not reduce risk of fractures. Other studies have shown it can increase fracture rates. And the countries with the lowest milk consumption have the lowest risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Calcium is not all it’s cracked up to be. Studies show that higher calcium intakes are actually associated with higher risk of fracture.

Milk may not grow strong bones, but it does seem to grow cancer cells. Milk increases the hormone called IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor, one that is like Miracle-Gro for cancer cells. Dairy products have been linked to prostate cancer. And cows are milked while pregnant (yes, even organic cows), filling milk with loads of reproductive and potentially cancer-causing hormones.

There are other problems with milk, too. It increases the risk of type 1 diabetes. Dairy is a well-known cause of acne. And of course, dairy causes millions around the world (75 percent of the population) to suffer digestive distress because of lactose intolerance. It causes intestinal bleeding in 40 percent of infants leading to iron deficiency. Allergy, asthma, and eczema all may be triggered by dairy consumption.

The US Department of Agriculture’s new My Plate initiative recommends three cups a day of milk for everyone! If you are two to nine years old, you get away with only two to two and a half cups. And the “key consumer message” is to switch to 1% or non-fat versions.

There is absolutely no biological requirement for milk, and the evidence for low fat milk is lacking, along with the bone benefits. The dairy lobby has its tentacles deep in the US Department of Agriculture. One scientist friend who advises the government on food policy confided to me that when he protested that there was no evidence for the government’s recommendations that we all drink three glasses of milk a day and that, in fact, it may be harmful, he was patronized with a “yes, we know, but the dairy lobby makes it difficult to make science into policy.”

Let’s just forget the science and spend taxpayer’s dollars to promote foods that we know are harmful, because money runs politics. To heck with the health of our citizens.

Bottom line: Milk is not nature’s perfect food unless you are a calf and should not be consumed in large quantities by most people, because it can promote weight gain, cancer, and even cause osteoporosis. Write to your congressmen to encourage them to support changes to our food and farm bill policies that shape our nutritional guidelines and make them evidence based. The answer to the question, “Got Proof?” Heck no!

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Do you think we need to drink milk to be healthy?

Do you agree that getting kids to drink more milk is a good idea?

Have you recently cut dairy from your diet, and if so, do you feel better?

What are some good dairy alternatives that you’ve discovered?


Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Calcium and Dairy

121018_SCI_DairyProds.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeThe health effects of dairy are a controversial subject among many doctors and nutritionists. While we nearly every species in the animal kingdom depends on dairy in one form or another in the first few years of life, the question of whether dairy is healthy for adults is more difficult to answer.

All dairy products are made up of a combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. However, dairy products can vary widely in their health effects; full-fat raw milk is processed very differently in the body than highly-processed, sugar-laden yogurts. While the USDA food pyramid recommends 2-3 servings of milk products a day, many health professionals suggest that’s a mistake, and that many of the dairy products we consume are quietly reeking havoc on our bodies from the inside out.

Most of us grew up thinking the milk, cheese, yogurt, dips, and spreads our parents fed us were “healthy.” We’ve been led to believe that dairy is the greatest thing since sliced bread, providing essential nutrients for our bones and overall health. But the latest medical research has produced some counterintuitive findings about how much dairy is actually good for us. Let’s take a closer look.

Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about calcium and dairy:

  1. The US suggests 500 milligrams more in daily calcium intake than the World Health Organization recommends…Yet somehow, the US also has the highest hip fracture rate in the world.
  2. In an Australian study comparing 105 vegan Buddhist nuns and 105 people who consume dairy on a regular basis, there was no difference found in bone density.
  3. High dairy consumption (3+ servings daily) has been linked to an increased rate of prostate cancer;
  4. decreased semen quality in men; and
  5. breast cancer in women.
  6. Dairy is a major source of saturated fat, which increases the risk of heart disease.
  7. There are many plant sources of calcium, including navy beans and kale. (Check out the article in the recent Spirituality & Health issue for more plant-based calcium options.)
  8. Vitamin K may be just as important as calcium for bone health. Good sources of vitamin K include brussels sprouts, broccoli, and many more which you can read about in the article.
  9. Keeping your blood alkaline will help prevent your body from sucking calcium out of the bones. Nearly all produce can have an alkalizing effect in the body.
  10. If the taste and texture are what you’re after, there are lots of delicious alternatives! Consider nutritional yeast mac and “cheese” or tofu ricotta. Grab the latest issue of Spirituality & Health for more cheese alternative ideas!



MayJune2013_Eckhart.1Does this make you second guess your dairy intake? For more information about how much dairy you should consume and how to get calcium from healthier sources, check out the May-June edition of Spirituality & Health, on newsstands now! The article Move Over Milk, by Alicia Bowman, provides some great ideas for how you can reduce dairy intake without going completely vegan. (And if you are vegan, then all the more power to you!)

For more enlightening, empowering, and inspiring information about your physical and emotional health, subscribe now to Spirituality & Health. 

Oh la la, Chocolat! How To Enjoy the Benefits of Raw Cacao


The genus name of chocolate, Theobroma derives from the Greek theos, “god,” and “broma,” “food,” thus meaning “food of the gods.” The common name chocolate derives from an Aztec name for this plant, chócolatl. Cocoa was the “love tonic” of Montezuma II, who is reputed to have drunk some fifty cups daily before visiting his harem of six hundred women.

In 1502 the returning crew of Columbus brought cacao beans back to Europe, and in 1550 nuns came up with the idea of adding sugar and vanilla, leading to what we now regard as chocolate. During the 1800s, physicians recommended chocolate to boost libido, and to this day it is well known for its ability to inspire passion.

Cacao is considered aphrodisiac, antioxidant, cardiotonic, diuretic, emollient, laxative, nervous system stimulant, and nutritive. Cacao increases levels of serotonin and endorphins in the body. It gives a short-term boost in energy and, when consumed in its whole, raw from, is beneficial for the teeth, as it contains tannins that inhibit dental decay. It also contains phenylethylamine, a compound that is naturally occurring in the brain in trace amounts and is released when we are in love, peaking during orgasm. Cacao also contains theobromine, a compound that dilates the coronary artery, increasing blood flow to the heart.

Most commercial chocolates today, however, have a low cacao content and contain sugar and hydrogenated oil. It contains many constituents including Vitamin E, B complex vitamins, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, amino acids (arginine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, tyramine, tyrosine), phenylethylamine, anandamide, dopamine, serotonin, xanthines (caffeine, theobromine, trigonelline), flavonoids (epicatechin, catechin, procyanidins), essential oil, sucrose, glucose, mucilage, oleopalmitostearin, tannins, and natural sugars. In its natural form, chocolate is considered bitter, warm, dry, yang, governed by Mars and Uranus and corresponding to the element of Fire.

Raw cacao is one of my muses and how I get so many books written!

You can make this ice cream quicker than it takes to go out and buy it.

Almond Milk

Why settle for a product in an aseptic package that has a shelf life of three years? Choose vitality instead!

  • 1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey or 2 dates, soaked 20 minutes

Rinse the nuts in a colander to remove enzyme inhibitors

Combine all ingredients in a blender and liquefy. Then strain through a sprout bag. Or a paint strainer bag (available at paint or hardware stores) Pulp can be saved to add to casseroles, cookies or other dishes.

Note: These same directions can be used for making cashew, hazelnut, pine nut, sesame, sunflower, walnut, or pumpkin seed milk.

Makes 1 quart.

Oh la la Chocolat! I Scream

  • 1 quart almond milk (You can buy almond milk at natural food stores, but it will be pasteurized and create more packaging)
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1 banana

Place everything in the blender. Blend and chill for 1 hour. Place everything in an ice cream maker and process till frozen.

What do you love about chocolate?

Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over forty years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Omega, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman Holistic College of Nutrition and has a private practice. Brigitte is the author of twelve books, including The Sexual Herbal, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome! Click here for more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at brigittemars.com.

Check out her international model yogini daughter, Rainbeau at www.rainbeaumars.com

PHOTO: Flickr / jefah

Mystifying Dairy: East Meets West

 In India, milk has been nectar for body, mind, and soul for millennia. So why is it so controversial in the West? Here, a look at ancient wisdom about dairy, blended with the perspective of modern science.

 When morning arrives in cities throughout India, what do many homemakers do? Typically, they receive fresh milk from a milkman who delivers it to their home early each day. But the milk isn’t prepackaged. Rather, the milkman pours the milk into the homemakers’ stainless steel bottles. Then, because it’s not pasteurized, they boil the milk before refrigerating it. A similar scene takes place in villages each day. “The lithe, ebony milkman…would fill the milk buckets that were waiting for him…,” writes Maya Tiwari in A Life in Balance. The milk was “delivered, buff-colored and foaming, within the hour of the milking. It was never preboiled. Milk was a vital and living food for as long as the ancestry could remember.”

 Ancestors’ insights

For thousands of years in India, milk has been an integral aspect of the yoga of food (anna yoga); indeed, the teachings of yoga promote a plant-based and dairy diet that is designed to nourish physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Both ancient Vedic scripture—which dates to about 1500 BC—and the wisdom of the Upanishads (872-222 BC), are rich repositories of food wisdom that mention milk, grains, and fruit as the “first foods” of the human diet. Consider this reference from the Rig Veda (IX 2.7): “The cows yield…milk inexhaustible for thee set on the highest summit.”

 Although there is no specific date for the first usage of milk in India, it was the rishis (seers), the original yoga practitioners, who provided insights into milk and the other foods that make up the yogic diet. Meditating in the dense woods in India 4000 years ago, they used their own bodies and minds as laboratories to explore optimum eating strategies that would enhance their yoga practice. Thousands of years later, the rishis’ dietary wisdom surfaced in the concise nutrition philosophy described in the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.

 Mind/body wisdom

What exactly is the diet followed by 80 percent of India’s population? It consists of foods that yoga’s ancient seers realized could contribute to sitting still and silently during meditation, and to holding certain poses (asanas). Called sattvic foods, these include: fruits, vegetables, grains (rice, oats, wheat, etc.) legumes (beans and peas), nuts and seeds, and milk and milk products (such as yogurt, butter, and cheese).

 Flash forward 4000 years later. It was in the 1970s that researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of India (MIT) confirmed in their high-tech laboratories what ancient rishis had intuited instinctively centuries before: The carbohydrate-dense foods of the sattvic diet do, indeed, calm and relax the mind/body. The mystical mechanism? Serotonin, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter (chemical “messenger”) that is released when you consume carbohydrate-dense, plant-based foods and milk—which, unlike the other animal foods of meat, poultry, and fish—is high in carbohydrates—and ultimately, a conduit to soothing serotonin.

 Spiritual nourishment

While the Bhagavad Gita describes yogic foods as sattva (having a gentle connection to the earth), Western cultures are likely to explain them as lactovegetarian—the type of vegetarianism that eschews meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, but includes all plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds), as well as milk and milk products. For devout yogis and Hindus, consuming a sattvic diet is based largely on ahimsa, the Hindu doctrine of non-violence. In this light, dairy foods are acceptable because even though they come from an animal (cow), it is the killing of live animals, poultry, or fish that underlies this food philosophy.

The sacred cow. But there’s another reason for welcoming milk into the diet. In India, the cow is perceived as sacred; an animal that is consecrated and treated with love and reverence. “Because it gives milk and is a nurturer that sustains life, the cow is honored as a mother,” says yoga teacher Nutan Brownstein, who grew up in Mumbai (formerly called Bombay), India. Now living in Kauai, Hawaii, Brownstein clarified India’s view of the sacred cow: “Cows are so revered and respected in India that when people drive by cows (which roam freely in city streets and in the countryside), they touch them and offer prayers.”

Such an expression of love is linked to the Hindu concept of prasad: If food is offered with love before it is eaten, then it will not be harmful. Can treating cows and their milk with love provide protection? Possibly. When a group of people from Spindrift (an organization that researched the effects of prayer) recently were in Haiti, without refrigeration, they had problems keeping the milk fresh. But with prayer, the milk stayed bacteria-free for days longer.

 Health and milk

The health benefits of pure dairy products have been documented and developed for 3500 years in Ayurveda, India’s ancient “science of life.” For instance, a cup of milk, diluted with water, is believed to cool the system and aid digestion. However, dairy foods can be either healthful or harmful—depending on the quantity and quality of the milk and milk products you consume.

Quantity. In the 1990s, pioneering physician Dean Ornish, M.D., proved that heart disease could be reversed with a yogic lifestyle: the sattvic diet (minus nuts and seeds), yoga and meditation, exercise, and group support. Specifically, plant-based foods were staples of the reversal diet, with only one cup or less of nonfat dairy foods daily. Ayurveda, too, recommends a limited intake of dairy foods for optimal health.

Quality. “The health problems caused by food in India today are due to the excessive [ital, mine] use of milk…and to the more recent infiltration of chemical pesticides and herbicides into her livestock feed,” writes Tiwari. So, too, in America. On the other hand, organic dairy foods that come from cows fed no pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, and hormones, are less likely to harm health.

 “Udder delights”

Milk may be consumed widely, but not necessarily wisely. By merging India’s ancient wisdom about milk with the West’s state-of-the-art nutrition knowledge, you may reap the physical, psychological, and spiritual gifts offered by both worlds. Here, some guidelines to get started.

  • Go organic. Check the container, then choose name brands that produce unadulterated, pure, organic dairy products.
  • Consider condiments. Limit the quantity of dairy you consume each day by treating dairy foods as condiments. The goal: Consume mostly plant-based foods, with small portions of dairy. A sampling: Try fresh fruit with a dollop of yogurt.
  • Think Vedic. Ancient guidelines suggest drinking milk cool, warm, by itself, or with fruit or fruit juice. Avoid consuming it with vegetables, fish, meat, salt, or meals.
  • Honor the sacred source. Bring a “yoga consciousness” to milk and dairy products (and all food) by thinking thoughts of appreciation for the Mother cow and the nourishment she provides for you.
  • Become calm. Enhance your yoga practice with the relaxing benefits of milk (and plant-based foods).

Viewed through the veil of India’s ancient dietary wisdom, milk is more than an amalgam of nutrients for our body. Pure, unadulterated milk may also calm and relax the mind and provide spiritual sustenance—if we take the time to listen to the subtle messages in milk.


Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., was the nutrition specialist on Dean Ornish, M.D.’s first clinical trial for reversing heart disease through lifestyle changes, and Director of Nutrition on a similar research project at cardiovascular clinics in Europe. She is the award-winning author of Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, The Healing Secrets of Food, and more recently, The Enlightened Diet. Visit her at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to take her FREE What’s Your Eating Style? quiz, and to discover more about her optimal eating programs, health coaching, and books.

The 81st Annual Academy Awards

This Sunday, Oscar is back in action. Hollywood’s most talented and beautiful will step out together for an evening of glitz and glamour for the 81st annual Academy Awards. While the event can be a little lavish (an understatement, I know), it promises a night of entertainment to all its viewers. From the limos and the dresses to the speeches and the parties, the awards are guaranteed to cater to our fascination with celebrities and their lifestyles.  All of this may sound slightly shallow, but this extravagant glitz is effective in drawing in plenty of viewers. Last year Nielson estimated a whopping 32 million viewers in the United States tuned in to watch the Awards.

While the show itself may appeal to our shallow side by focusing on outward glamour, it does succeed in bringing attention to the movies it recognizes.  If it takes designer dresses and beautiful people to get over 32 million Americans to focus on the stories Hollywood has been telling this year, then by all means, add some more sparkle.

The movies that are nominated this year tell smart stories, explore historical events, and teach great lessons. Here is a brief synopsis of each movie nominated for Best Picture to keep you (and me!) informed during Sunday’s ceremony.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Benjamin Button is adapted from a 1921 F. Scott Fitzgerald story. It follows the journey of a man who ages backward. It tells of the love he finds, the joy and sadness he experiences, and the lessons he learns along the way. 

Milk: Milk tells the story of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist turned politician.  The story explores his personal and public journey as the first openly gay elected official in the United States.

Frost/Nixon: Frost/Nixon tells the story of the interview between President Nixon and Robert Frost three years after Nixon left office. It becomes a battle of wits as Frost attempts to make Nixon take accountability for his actions during his presidency.

The Reader: The Reader tells the story of a love affair between Hanna, a Nazi guard, and Michael, a young unaware boy. The movie flashes forward to years later when the young boy has graduated law school and is a part of the war crimes trial that could convict Hanna. He is torn between his different definitions of justice.

Slumdog Millionaire: This movie tells the story of an 18 year-old orphan who grew up in the slums of Mumbai. He is one question away from winning a large sum of money on India’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” The police accuse him of cheating. To prove his innocence, he tells the story of his past and how he learned to answers to the quiz show’s questions.


Whether or not you enjoyed some, all, or none of the movies nominated for best picture this year, you have to admit that the stories and lessons presented are groundbreaking. They teach the world a little more about growth and acceptance through their historical analysis and smart story telling. When fame, talent, and beauty are used to promote good messages and share good stories, I completely support it. What about you? I am curious to hear your thoughts on the Academy Awards and this year’s nominated movies. Please share!


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