I never understood why the cute, hippy mothers in my community were so excited about raw milk. Frankly, I didn't like the idea of my milk going straight from the udder to the bottle. All I knew about milk, in general, was that it was a good source of calcium, and my kids needed it to grow. So, I would religiously get them organic, whole milk, and they would go through a whole gallon in about a day or two.
However, when they began experiencing serious stomach pains immediately after each serving, I realized they must have a milk allergy, or lactose intolerance. I started doing some research and I learned about raw milk. Although I never imagined I'd be brave enough, I decided to give it a try and buy a gallon of raw milk for my family. You'll never believe what happened: stomach aches were gone instantly! My kids can now drink milk happily, and I can have one less thing to feel guilty about!
Here are the things that changed my mind about raw milk:
Fact #1: Raw milk has gut-friendly bacteria and enzymes.
Ironically, my first thought about raw milk was that it wouldn't be safe, because no pasteurization means there could be dangerous bacteria lurking in there. In actuality, the opposite is true. Raw milk contains good bacteria and enzymes. Although the FDA claims that raw milk has no probiotic effect, many people -- my own children included -- have actually experienced the benefits. The renowned Weston A. Price Foundation conducted a survey of over 700 families, and found that over 80 percent of those diagnosed with lactose intolerance no longer experienced those symptoms once switching over to raw milk.
The enzymes in raw milk are activated in the human digestive tract and help nutrients absorb into our bodies naturally, making it very friendly to your digestive system and helping to conserve a bit more energy. Pasteurized milk, on the other hand, is very hard to digest, because it has been warped during the heating process.
Fact #2: Raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk.
Raw milk comes from healthy, grass-fed, free roaming cows. These cows have higher levels of fat-soluble vitamins, linoleic acid, essential fatty acids and other nutrients. The more a cow eats grass, the healthier it is… as opposed to the grain-fed cows who live in confinement. You can taste the difference, as with any other high quality product.
When cow’s milk is pasteurized, its nutritional quality decreases including manganese, copper and iron after heat treatment. Even the FDA acknowledges that pasteurization destroys a significant portion of nutrients in milk.
Fact #3: Chances that you'll get hospitalized from raw milk are 1 in 6 million.
It seems everyone thinks that raw milk is dangerous. In truth, the risk of becoming ill from pasteurized milk is approximately 9 times greater than the risk of getting ill from raw milk. Raw milk contains protective components like antibodies that can reduce and eliminate pathogenic bacteria, or bad bacteria. Out of 14 protective components, only one remains active in pasteurized milk. The other 13 are killed off.
Since 1999, 40 million servings of one particular brand of raw milk, Organic Pastures, were consumed, and not one illness was reported out of the 1,300 tests that were conducted. During the same time period, there were 19 recalls of pasteurized milk products.
Fact #4: A 2007 study reveals raw milk can help reduce risk of asthma and allergy.
In a study conducted of 14,893 children ages 5-13, consumption of raw milk was the strongest factor in reducing risk of asthma and allergy. The protective effect is linked to whey proteins in the milk such as BSA and alpha-lactalbumin… yet another reason to consider this white gold as your drink of choice.
Raw milk can be quite expensive. But, I found that I could save money by alternating between raw milk and pasteurized without any incident of aching tummies. Perhaps the good bacteria and enzymes linger in the gut and help along the pasteurized milk.
I felt the benefits outweighed the risks, and I made a very personal choice to give raw milk a try. I would suggest that you further research the subject before making your own decision. There are other schools of thought that still strongly suggest raw milk is dangerous. So, take your time and choose wisely for your own family. Let me know how it works out for you!
image via TreeHugger