A few potential health benefits of raw milk – and some reasons why it is so different from the kind of milk you find at your local grocery store…
There is a lot of debate out there (sometimes quite heated) about whether milk is good for you, or something not even fit for human consumption. However, as with similar discussions about meat, I find this debate a bit one-dimensional and inaccurate, as nearly 100% of the time, people are arguing about milk coming from large-scale CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) dairies, which makes the entire argument moot. In my opinion NOTHING that comes from a CAFO is fit for human consumption – or even animal consumption for that matter!
However, there are other sources of milk (and meat) that are much less damaging to the environment – and to your health. In particular, raw milk from grass-fed animals is a completely different substance in almost every way from what you find in those white plastic jugs in the supermarket refrigerator case.
Below are just a few of the health benefits that have been attributed to raw milk (and contrary to what you may have heard in the mainstream media, raw milk is no more “dangerous” than the pasteurized stuff as long as proper sanitation and safety measures are maintained throughout the supply chain).
And for all you “haters” out there, please understand that I’m not telling you that you “should” drink milk! If you choose not to, that is perfectly fine and I see no reason why you should change your mind about it if you are happy with your health. However, for those who do choose to drink milk, try to find raw milk from grass-fed animals if at all possible, and above all, AVOID CAFO milk!
(Note that it may not be legal to buy raw milk in some areas. Visit www.realmilk.com to find raw milk sources and rules for your state.)
Potential Health Benefits of Raw Milk:
As a result of the animals’ diet and standard of living (being outdoors, exposed to natural sunlight, free to roam at will without the stressors of confinement and crowding etc.), high-quality raw milk has many health benefits that pasteurized milk lacks. For example, grass-fed raw milk contains:
- Healthy bacteria that are good for your gastrointestinal (GI) tract
- More than 60 digestive enzymes, growth factors and immunoglobulins (antibodies)
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
- Beneficial raw fats, amino acids and proteins in a highly bioavailable form, all 100 percent digestible
- Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K in highly bioavailable forms, and a very balanced blend of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron), the absorption of which is enhanced by live lactobacilli
Research has shown raw milk exposure in early childhood increases the number of regulatory T-cells (Treg cells; immunosuppressive cells that modulate your immune system), resulting in a lower risk for asthma and allergies. According to the authors:20
“Farm milk exposure was associated with increased Treg cell numbers on stimulation in 4.5-year-old children and might induce a regulatory phenotype early in life, potentially contributing to a protective effect for the development of childhood allergic diseases.”
In another study,21 published last year, nearly 1,000 infants from rural areas in Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Switzerland were followed for the first year of life. Their consumption of different types of cow’s milk was analyzed, along with rates of common respiratory infections. Children who drank raw milk had a 30 percent lower risk of respiratory infections and fever compared to those who did not drink raw milk.
Milk that was boiled at the farm had a diminished protective effect, and milk that was ultra-pasteurized, which is heated to about 135 degrees Celsius (275 degrees Fahrenheit) for a few seconds, showed no protective effect, likely because the protective compounds are killed or otherwise damaged by the heat.
Kids who drank fresh, raw milk also had significantly lower incidence of head colds and middle-ear inflammation compared to those who drank ultra-pasteurized milk. The researchers concluded that the public health impact of minimally processed raw milk might be “enormous, given the high prevalence of respiratory infections in the first year of life and the associated direct and indirect costs.”