Conventional, Pasteurized, Homogenized Milk:
First we need some historical background, many years ago pasteurization was unheard of. People either had their own cow or goat, or purchased from or traded with a neighbor. Slowly people began to specialize and small dairy farms emerged. With industrialization, these small dairy farms grew into larger dairies producing more milk and thus generating more income.
The downside was, it became more difficult to keep the dairies sanitary. This posed a serious problem! People were getting sick and even dying. Something had to be done! Enter French scientist Louis Pasteur and pasteurization. It seemed a logical and cost-effective solution: heat the milk and kill harmful pathogens in the milk.
However, as with most things, when we solve one problem, we create another.
While pasteurization does indeed destroy many harmful pathogens, the bad news is, it also destroys many important nutrients making much of the nutritional benefits of milk unavailable, or dead, which in turn makes milk difficult to process. The once living, raw food becomes dead, or “mostly dead.” (The Princess Bride)
Pasteurization enables the dairy industry to raise animals in a cost-effective, but less than healthy way. Animals are overcrowded in unsanitary conditions. They are given antibiotics to combat the frequent diseases that they face and hormones to increase milk supply. They rarely, if ever see the light of day and they are fed a more economical, but very poor and unnatural diet.
Most commercial milk is homogenized. That means that the natural layer of fat that normally rises to the surface of milk is spread evenly throughout. It allows for a more uniform consistency and extends shelf life, which in turn produces more profit. Sounds harmless, right?
When milk is homogenized, the size of the fat globules are changed, which alters how they act in our body. Several studies suggest that homogenization is a major factor in plaque formation, causing heart disease.
Proteins are normally easily broken down through digestive processes; however, this process changes with homogenization. These proteins can more easily pass through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream. What’s the problem with this? Our body reacts to foreign proteins, triggering anything from an allergic type reaction to an immune type response.
Organic, Raw Milk from Pastured Animals
Two foods could not be more different than conventional, pasteurized homogenized milk and organic, raw milk from pastured animals!
While pasteurized, homogenized milk actually causes a variety of illnesses, organic, raw milk from pastured animals is an incredibly complex, whole food, with healing properties and offering superior nutrition. Interestingly, it can almost always be consumed by people who are lactose or casein sensitive without a problem.
However, the FDA says the consumption of raw milk is like "playing Russian roulette with your health." Again, who’s right and who’s wrong?
Before we explore the benefits of raw milk, can we even safely consume it? Of course we can! People have been doing it for thousands of years. The safety of raw milk became a problem when farmers began to grow too big too fast, with cows fed unnatural diets and kept in unsanitary, and overcrowded conditions and drinking this type of milk unpasteurized truly would be like playing Russian roulette with your health!
Owing to the lack of pasteurization, legal raw milk must be produced under strict sanitary conditions. That doesn’t bother me. The thought of milk being produced in anything but strict sanitary conditions is pretty unappetizing, to say the least. In addition, raw milk contains active enzymes, antibodies and bacteria that actually protect the milk from dangerous pathogens.
Benefits of Raw Milk
Smaller dairies are able to feed cows a more natural diet and allow a more natural life. Both of which contribute to a healthier milk. You are what you eat and the same is true of cows and any other mammals. If we react poorly to conventional milk, one important consideration is what they eat. Most conventional dairies feed their animals an unnatural diet high in grains, food high in pesticide exposure and genetically modified foods, namely soy and corn.
Hormones are not used in raw, organic and pastured milk to up production and in a more healthy environment, antibiotics are not commonplace.
Rarely is anyone truly allergic to milk from A2 type animals fed a natural diet, raised in a healthy environment, free of hormones and antibiotics that is unpasteurized and not homogenized.
Let’s look at just a few highlights from the amazing nutrient profile of organic, raw milk from pastured animals.
The protein in raw milk does amazing things, but just to name a few capabilities, it has: iron-binding protein that aids in the absorption of iron. Antibodies that provide resistance to many viruses and bacteria. Mineral binding proteins to aid in assimilation of electrolytes. Proteins with antiviral properties, metal binding proteins, and vitamin building proteins.
Raw milk contains 20 amino acids. Including all eight essential amino acids that we can only get from food.
Glutathione is a simple molecule comprised of three amino acids- cysteine, glutamine and glycine, that acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals and prevent cellular damage. It also helps utilize vitamins C, E, selenium, and carotenoids. It supports a healthy immune system and has been called the master detoxifier.
Most people recognize whey protein as beneficial in building muscle and burning fat. However, as usual, it is best to get it in its natural form. Denatured forms of whey protein can in fact be difficult for our body to process.
Lactose is milk’s primary carbohydrate. It provides Lactobacili bacteria with the needed material to make lactic acid. Lactic acid in turn inhibits harmful bacteria and boosts the absorption of calcium, phosphorus and iron, as well as making milk proteins more digestible.
Healthy fat is not only nourishing, but it is critical for the absorption of nutrients.
It provides neurological support- mostly due to the healthy fats. Our brain is 60% fat and thus, it is critical that we consume healthy fats.
Saturated fats are critical as a repair substance. It is essential in the construction and integrity of cell walls. It works in harmony with hormones to provide energy and signal that we are full and satisfied. It is also important for padding delicate organs and as a vehicle for carrying fat-soluble vitamins.
Pay attention, if you would like to lose weight or if you are a body builder! CLA is abundant in milk raw milk from pastured cows, interestingly this fatty acid protects against weight gain, it increases metabolic rate, removes abdominal fat and supports muscle growth and our immune system. It lowers bad cholesterol and insulin resistance, reduces allergic reactions and supports cardiovascular health.
Raw milk contains every fat and water soluable vitamin! Wow! Ok, that may not be a big deal because conventional milk does too. But the unique thing about raw milk is: they are all completely available--conventional milk, not so much. Have you noticed that vitamin D and A are added back into commercial milk?
Nothing needs to be added to organic, raw milk from pastured animals. No vitamins. No minerals. No enriching. It’s a complete and pretty near perfect food.
I recently read an article outlining a “powerful remedy for arthritis,” using calcium, magnesium, boron, and vitamin D supplements. Of course, you could just drink organic, raw milk from pastured animals, because it’s got them all and they are readily available for your body to use.
In an appeal to our vanity, people take biotin supplements for better hair and nails, but you guessed it: raw milk has that for you as well. Acne? Raw milk can help with that too, mostly due to the availability of Vitamin A.
Raw dairy is an outstanding source of minerals. For example, it is a great source of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Interestingly, these are three minerals in which many people are also deficient.
Why is it that the people in the United States consume more dairy than any other country and yet we are chronically calcium deficient? Because there is an intricate balance required for minerals to function properly. For instance, calcium needs phosphorus, magnesium and healthy fat for it’s assimilation. If it is not properly assimilated, the body stores it somewhere such as arteries, kidneys, gallbladder, eyes and joints which causes an array of health issues. The great part is: nature got it right, again. When it comes to raw, organic milk from pastured animals, all the minerals and nutrients are in their proper proportions.
We have at least 60 known active enzymes in raw milk with amazing capabilities and functions. Each one is important for easier digestion, for vitamin and mineral absorption, for breaking down starches, fats and proteins so the body can use them. Some enzymes even help to protect milk from harmful bacteria, making it safer for us to drink!
One enzyme, lactase is created by the bacteria in raw milk, which is absent in pasteurized milk. It aids in the digestion of the milk sugar lactose. That is why lactose intolerant people are usually able to drink raw milk.
Organic, raw milk from pastured animals contains diverse and probiotic bacteria. It is a living, synergistic and whole food. An interesting phenomenon of raw milk is that it will self culture. Sit it in a dark cupboard and it will begin to separate into curds and whey: remember Little Miss Muffat? No added culture is required, it does it all on it’s own- like magic. It does not rot like pasteurized milk, but cultures adding to the beneficial bacteria naturally present in raw milk, making it even more digestible and nutritious.
It’s full of beneficial bacteria that helps our immune system and keeps bad bacteria in check. Have you heard of Leaky Gut Syndrome? It helps heal your gut where 80% of your immune system is.
Raw, organic milk provides a perfect medium for other dairy cultures such as kefir, cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk providing an array of health benefits.
Can I Just Leave Milk Out of My Diet? My Answer—Why Would You Want To?
You could just leave it out of your diet, and that is what increasingly more and more people are doing. It’s understandable; pasteurized dairy has caused a whole host of problems. It ranks as “bad” on Principle #4, but can you think of any other food that can match the nutritional profile of organic, raw, pastured milk?
As we evaluate the health of ourselves and those around us, we recognize that we have some serious and almost epidemic health issues. Many of which organic, raw, pastured milk can help address, just to name a few: calcium deficiency, ADEK deficiencies, thyroid issues, and we tend to be overweight and nutrient deprived.
Healthy milk is the best kind of medicine. Milk is our first food and there are adults with issues that prevent them from eating a traditional diet who exist solely upon organic, raw milk and thrive. Would that be possible with any other food?
My hope is that after looking at just a few of the health benefits of organic, raw and pastured milk, you will not only decide that an occasionally glass would be ok, but you will recognize it as a super food. It is as near to a perfect food as we can get and it should and can play a very important part in our diet.
Do the benefits of consuming raw milk outweigh the risks? When it is produced in a healthy way, absolutely!
The occurrence of harmful bacteria in milk coming from a certified dairy is rare. You are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk! The CDC reports show an estimated 48 million food borne illnesses each year and only 42 (about 0.0005) are reported from those who drink fresh, unprocessed milk. So, yes, there are risks when you consume organic, raw milk just as there are when you consume spinach or most any other food, but we can’t stop eating! The benefits of consuming responsibly produced raw milk greatly outweigh the risks of consuming commercial pasteurized, homogenized dairy or eliminating dairy altogether.
Eat Fat, Lose Fat. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon