BY RENATA TRISTER DO
Raw milk or milk that is not pasteurized or homogenized is viewed by many as dangerous. A look into claims made by the FDA and CDC related to raw milk being dangerous have been found to be questionable. Although it might have earned a reputation among some for being dangerous raw milk from a safe source is actually beneficial.
What is “raw milk” exactly? It’s milk that comes from grass-fed cows, is unpasteurized and unhomogenized. This means raw milk contains all of its natural enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals — making it what many refer to as a “complete food.”
But can’t raw milk cause problems due to the risk of consuming bacteria? The risk of this happening is very, very low. In fact, according to medical researcher Dr. Ted Beals, M.D., you are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk. The CDC reports that there are an estimated 48 million foodborne illnesses diagnosed each year. Of these 48 million illnesses, only about 42 each year are due to consumption of fresh, unprocessed (raw) milk.
Studies now suggest that children who drink raw milk are 50 percent less likely to develop allergies and 41 percent less likely to develop asthma compared to children who don’t. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology involved 8,000 children with various diets, and one of the conclusions that researchers made was that by drinking raw milk, children experienced “naturally immunizing” effects.
As documented on the Real Milk website, many other studies carried out over the past century have shown that raw milk benefits and supports children’s growth and development in other ways too, including increasing immunity against infections, boosting dental health and supporting skeletal growth, for example.
You might be wondering: How can raw milk reduce allergies, and isn’t dairy tied to high rates of intolerance or sensitivities? Nutrients like probiotics, vitamin D and immunoglobulins (antibodies) found in raw milk naturally boost the immune system and reduce the risk of allergies in both children and adults. Enzymes found in raw milk help with digestion but are often reduced or destroyed during pasteurization, which can contribute to lactose intolerance.
Dairy might have a bad reputation when it comes to causing or worsening acne and skin inflammation, but this is far from the case with raw milk. As we’ve seen, the benefits of raw milk are numerous, but surprisingly one of the most common reasons that people consume it is to benefit their skin. The success stories of people consuming raw milk to improve conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne are very widely reported. Raw milk contains large amounts of healthy saturated fats and omega-3 fats, to support skin hydration. Probiotics in raw milk can kill off or balance bad bacteria in your gut, which can dramatically affect the health of your skin.
Fresh raw milk can be used to naturally make Probiotic Foods
Probiotics are microorganisms that line your gut and support nutrient absorption. They also help protect you from foreign invaders like E. coli and parasites. The best way to include probiotics in your diet is to get them in their most natural state, which includes raw milk products, such as cheese, kefir and yogurt. Real, raw and organic probiotic yogurt, cheeses and kefir have been consumed by some of the healthiest populations living around the world for thousands of years. In addition to pasteurization, conventional milk also usually undergoes a homogenization process. Homogenization is a high-pressure process that breaks down fat into tiny particles — however, fat subjected to high heat and pressure becomes oxidized and rancid. Many low-fat dairy products also have thickening agents added to make up for lost texture, and some have even been tied to rising rates of inflammatory diseases like cancer. Raw milk needs no added thickeners or shelf-stabilizers and also doesn’t contain added sugar or flavors.
Nutritional Profile of Raw Milk
Fat-Soluble Vitamins A, D and K2
Because raw milk comes from cows or goats grazing on grass, research studies have shown that it contains a higher level of heart-healthy, cancer-killing, fat-soluble vitamins than milk that comes from factory-farm cows. Studies have shown that one of the most common deficiencies in children is a lack of fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins support the brain and nervous system and are crucial for development, focus and brain function. Fat-soluble vitamins also support bone density and help naturally balance hormones, however they’re significantly decreased following pasteurization.
Short Chain Fatty Acids, CLA and Omega-3s
In addition to being high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, raw milk from grass-fed animals is a rich source of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that’s widely known to control health issues related to inflammation, slow metabolism and stress resistance.
Raw Milk vs. Store Bought Milk
Dairy products have gotten a bad rap over the years, but this is actually mostly due to the pasteurization process. When milk is pasteurized, it destroys many of the nutrients that make raw milk beneficial. Why is pasteurization even performed in the first place then? Because it exposes milk to very high temperatures, it can also kill harmful bacteria that are possibly able to make their way into the milk. However, as mentioned above, it’s very rare for these types of bacteria to be found in milk to begin with.
Key nutrients and enzymes are greatly reduced during the pasteurization process. If you consider the fact that many of these nutrients are not only reduced, but altered from their original states, you can understand that some of these nutrients are completely unavailable for your body to use and very difficult to digest.
Vitamin B and C levels are decreased as well. In multiple studies, it’s been found low-temperature pasteurization decreases vitamin C content by up to 25 percent, along with the content of B vitamins, iron and calcium. Further reductions in nutritional value takes place when milk sits on supermarket shelves sometimes for weeks where it’s kept until sold. Some have found that following pasteurization, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is oxidized into dehydroascorbic acid, which is an inactive, degraded form of vitamin C that does not have the same benefits as natural vitamin C. Other studies have found that pasteurization in other food products reduces overall antioxidant activities by about 55 percent to 60 percent and reduces vitamin B2 concentrations by up 48 percent.
Raw milk must be purchased from reputable local farmers in your area.