Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is Raw Milk Easier To Digest??

Well hopefully in my last post I was able so show you the safety of raw milk. I really didn't intend for this to become a series, but there is so much great information out there that didn't lend itself to just one post. Today, I would like to discuss how much easier raw milk is for our bodies to digest. Two big issues people encounter when drinking milk or consuming dairy products are milk allergies and lactose intolerance. Many people have sworn off dairy altogether due to issues such as these. Interestingly, pasterization may be to blame for both of these issues due to denatured proteins and lack of digestive enzymes.

Proteins in Milk

First, let me tell you about the proteins in milk. These proteins are three dimensional, like tinker toys, and very fragile. They carry vitamins and minerals through the gut into the blood stream; make up enzymes; enhance the immune system, and protect against disease. Pasteurization and ultra-pasteurization flatten or denature the three-dimensional proteins, and destroy their biological activity. There is some evidence to suggest that the body thinks these denatured proteins are actually foreign proteins and will mount an immune defense against the molecules. This may explain why so many people have an allergic reaction when they drink pasteurized milk. Some studies suggest that these immune attacks may be partially responisble for asthma. There is even more evidence linking these reactions to atheroslerosis, diabetes and obesity later in life.

Enzymes in Raw Milk

Next, let's talk a little about lactose intolerance. Enzymes in raw milk, when activated by the appropriate pH of the digestive tract, become active and digest all the components in the milk. Once again, we really need to talk more about enzymes and their importance. That is on my list for a later series. But for now, the high heat involved in pasteurization kills the enzymes in raw milk. If those enzymes are not present, the body must produce enzymes to digest the milk which stresses the body, robs our immune system of vital componenets, and makes it difficult if not impossible for many to digest pasteurized milk. This difficulty in digestion leads many to believe they are lactose intolerant. In a private survey conducted in Michigan, 85 percent of those diagnosed as lactose intolerant can drink raw milk without a problem. The problem isn't the milk, it's actually the lack of enzymes present to help digest the milk.

Interesting Studies

  • In 2001 researchers performed a study looking at the connection between asthma and raw milk. The Lancet reported that long-term and early-life exposure to stables and raw farm milk induces a strong protective effect agains the development of asthma, hay fever and atopic sensitization [rashes]. Lancet. 2001 Oct 6; 358(9288): 1129-33.

  • In 2006 researchers in London reported that children who even infrequently drank raw milk had significantly less current eczema symptoms and a greater reduction in atopy (allergic hypersensitivity). J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Jun; 117(6): 1374-81.

  • In 2007 in a study of 14, 893 children aged 5-13, consumption of raw milk was the strongest factor in reducing the risk of asthma and allergy. The benefits were greatest when consumption of farm milk began during the first year of life. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 2007 May; 35(5) 627-630.

As our study of raw milk continues, does that carton of pasteurized, organic milk in your refrigerator seem less appealing? I know, I've been there. Again if you want to get even more in depth information, please check out the Campaign for Real Milk site.

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This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.