We recently covered the news that a Harvard professor is suggesting the low fat milk – which effectively replaces fat with sugar – could be contributing to the obesity epidemic. Many comments from readers suggested it is not just full fat milk that we should be drinking but raw, unpasteurized milk. The excellent blog Empowered Sustenance has published a look at the benefits of raw milk. Here is an extract with their top three benefits…
Heating wet foods above 118 degrees F destroys the naturally occurring, beneficial enzymes. As a living food, raw milk contains enzymes that assist in digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Fermenting the milk into yogurt further activates beneficial enzymes, rendering the product even more digestible.
In particular, raw milk contains the enzyme lactase which helps breakdown lactose. Additionally, an enzyme in the butterfat called lipase aids in fat digestion and assimilation of the fat-soluble vitamins.
Pasteurized milk is heated to 170 degrees and ultra-pasteurized milk is heated to 280 degrees. This prolongs the shelf-life of the milk at the cost of destroying the health-giving qualities of the milk. There are no live enzymes left in pasteurized milk… it is a dead food. As a result, the digestive system must furnish all the enzymes required to digest it. Often, if the diet consists of all cooked foods, the body’s enzymes stores are depleted and digestion is impaired.
The butterfat in raw milk separates to the top… just like butterfat should. The butterfat is primarily saturated–the most healthiest and most stable fat to consume (if you are still stuck in the utterly false mindset that saturated fat is bad for you, then get thee a copy of Nourishing Traditions immediately!). If the raw milk is from cows in pasture, this butterfat boasts anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
The practice of homogenization further mutilates the chemical integrity of milk. The fat globules are pressurized so that they become small enough to be in suspension throughout the milk, without separating into cream. This makes the fat and cholesterol more susceptible to rancidity and destroys the colloidal structure of the milk.
Even worse options are reduced fat, low fat and skim milk. The body requires removed butterfat to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K in the milk. This vitamins are even more unavailable to the body in low fat/skim milk. Skim milks often contain dry milk powders and additives to compensate for the loss of flavor and texture with the butterfat. The consumption of skim and 1% milk has been shown to cause more weight gain than whole milk (here’s the study).
The vitamins in raw milk are fully intact and bioavailable. If the cows are in pasture, the milk is significantly higher in the extremely beneficial vitamin K.
It’s another story for pasteurized milk, however. During pasteurization, more than 50% of vitamin C is lost. The primary cofactors, enzymes and proteins that assist in the absorption of folate, B12, B6, and iron are also destroyed with pasteurization (source). Further, one protein destroyed by pasteurization is beta lactoglobulin, which plays an important role in the absorption of vitamin A (source).
See more benefits plus a look at common FAQs including ““Is raw milk safe?”, “Where do I get raw milk? What if I can’t get it?”, and “But isn’t cow milk for baby cows?” at: Why is Raw Milk So Special?