If you are my age you will remember enjoying your ‘cream on top’ milk in the playground each day at school. Milk being promoted as an important food for growing children. So why are you now hearing from many health professionals that you should omit it from your diet all together?
When you search online you find heaps on conflicting info, some loving on milk others hating on it. What are you supposed to do?
My conclusion is that it depends on the source and processing of the milk (and on the state of your gut), and I feel the confusion comes because we are essentially talking about at least three different kinds of milk:
- Pasteurised and homogenised
Here, let me break it down…
Milk contains a protein called casein, and a sugar called lactose, which are said to be a predominant cause of inflammation in the population today.
Back in the day cows were fed on lush pastures and the milk we drank was raw and fresh, pretty much straight from the udder. Cultures learnt to ferment the milk and create cheeses, curds and whey that reduced the lactose content making them easier to digest.
Somewhere along the way a mutation occurred, and people produced the lactose enzyme allowing them to consume milk on a regular basis.
But remember, the cows were fed on green pastures and this milk was raw and fresh.
Nowadays cows are often fed high PUFA containing grain, hormones, and medications, they are kept in, let’s just say ‘less than desirable’ conditions, and milk is pasteurised and homogenised.
This high heat treatment of milk kills any viruses and bacteria present. However it also:
- Alters the delicate proteins, enzymes and immunoglobulins, vitamins and minerals present.
- Converts lactose into another form, called beta lactose, which is more rapidly absorbed and can adversely raise blood glucose levels.
- Destroys a lot of the vitamin C and iodine present.
- Alters the calcium into a form that is harder to absorb.
- Denatures many enzymes, which can make it harder to digest.
Any mother will know that breast milk is ‘alive’ and should not be overheated to preserve the nourishing properties, yet we do this with other milk all the time. It is not the complex nourishing medium it once was. Yes it can be a useful source of protein, but it can also harm your body at the same time.
This is when the fat globules are passed through a fine sieve, so they are broken down into tiny particles – why you don’t see the cream on top of milk anymore! There is research to suggest that the body can’t properly distinguish these fat particles and thereby has difficulty processing them, as well as research that shows the milk proteins and fats get modified and re-sorted into a kind of protein-fat matrix that causes increased risk of allergies and digestive issues. Milk has also been linked to skin disorders like hives and eczema.
It was thought that milk increased mucus production, which has been found to be false, however it does cause mucus to thicken. This can be particularly bad if you are an asthmatic or suffer from sinus problems,
Milk is considered second only to gluten as one of the most inflammatory foods, hence why many people say you should omit it from your diet…and why many people find symptoms vanish when they do omit it!
Let’s look at raw dairy that hasn’t undergone any form of heat processing or homogenisation.
Raw milk is directly from cows, goats, sheep, and camels and retains all nutrients and enzymes (including enzymes that can break down lactose).
Raw milk is rich in vitamins, iron, calcium, amino acids, antimicrobials, fatty acids, and other nutrients. It is proven to boost your immune system and reduce the risk of disease or skin conditions. It also helps with allergies, asthma, and lactose intolerance.
I believe this makes it a good food source for nutrient depleted mummas and growing children.
It’s important that you don’t just consume dairy from just any farm. Conventional dairy farms where the milk is sent to be pasturised often have lessor standards of hygiene. Ensure you are getting your dairy from a reputable organic farm, with pasture-raised grass-fed animals, where the calves aren’t abducted from their mothers in the first few hours of life. Ensure you know other people consume that raw dairy with no ill effects.
LEGALITIES OF RAW MILK CONSUMPTION
Here in Queensland, I’m personally happy to consume Heavenly Bath Milk and Cleopatra’s Bath Milk and offer this to my boys. You will note it’s called ‘Bath Milk’ and you’ll also see ‘NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION’ on the label. This is because it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in Australia.
THIS is a good summary of raw milk benefits with links to peer reviewed papers.
For those with concerns about raw dairy, or that have difficulty sourcing it, there is now cold-pressed raw dairy available from a farm here in Australia, in NSW. Essentially the milk is put under high pressure that ruptures bacteria killing them, whilst keeping the enzymes etc all intact. You can read all about it on their website HERE. The black label Jersey Milk is the one I would buy. You can see stockists on their website (it appears to be at most Supa IGAs Australia wide). This form is approved for human consumption here in Australia.
INTOLERANCE TO DAIRY/LACTASE
If you know you have issues digesting dairy and/or you’ve removed it from your diet for some time, you will need to develop your lactase enzyme. For this you need to start slow, with one tablespoon of raw milk a day and work up from there. Hard aged cheese like Parmesan is generally better tolerated as is the A2 protein found in goat milk and Jersey or Guernsey cow milk.
You may also need to do some gut healing as the lactase enzyme is made by the cells in the brush border of your gut mucosal barrier. If you have a damaged gut lining, you likely won’t be able to make lactase enzyme, which could be the cause of your dairy problems.