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Raw (unpasteurized/unhemogenized) milk has been a staple of healthy nomadic and agricultural societies going back as far as 9,000 years. Today, in Europe and many other countries raw milk products are readily available and highly valued for their life-sustaining properties. Yet in the US, the sale of raw dairy is banned or severely limited in most of the 50 states. It is not unusual for merely suspected violators to be raided by gun-toting government teams in the dead of night, severely charged and, far too often, financially ruined. What is going on?

The government refrain goes something like: raw milk is a major source of foodbourne illness; therefore, we must protect you! However, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) totally mock this claim. CDC found that between 1999 and 2010 there were on average 42 cases per year of "confirmed" or "suspected" illness out of about 9.4 million raw milk drinkers (approx. 0.0005%). (Today, the number of milk drinkers is estimated at 12-13 million.) Given the fact that there are a reported 48 million cases of foodbourne illnesses each year from all foods, raw milk is pretty small potatoes and certainly not worth the overblown national focus and expenditure of resources. Indeed, raw milk statistics are more in line with the well accepted fact that consuming any food carries some risk of illness or adverse reaction.

Clearly, the war on milk is not driven by food safety concerns. The threat, in the eyes of our government "watchdog" agencies is far more insidious: the threat to big agri-business!

Why pasteurize milk?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires pasteurization of milk to protect the public from possible deadly pathogens in raw milk. The reality is, however, if cows are raised as nature intended (free-range, green grass-fed, with plenty of fresh air and sunshine and no antibiotics or harmful vaccines that impair their immune system), then they simply do not get sick or become colonized with pathogenic bacteria in the first place. Thus, there is no need to pasteurize their milk.

However, cows raised in concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs (factory farms) are NOT raised in a way that makes their milk suitable for drinking raw - typically fed high-protein, soy-based (mostly GMO) feeds, cramped in filthy lots all day instead of free grazing in grassy fields. CAFOs are ideal disease-producing facilities, requiring antibiotics and growth hormones to keep animals alive as cheaply as possible to maintain high profitability. The milk from these unhealthy CAFO cows must be pasteurized to kill pathogens, though the milk retains the dead pathogens. The process also kills most of the inherently beneficial properties in milk, while the hormones and antibiotics wind up in the milk. Pasteurization enables CAFO farmers to avoid the costs of cleaning up their operations, which would likely mean lowering production volume needed for big profits. Following minimal FDA guidelines also protects them from lawsuits by people who might be sickened by their products.

What's wrong with pasteurization?

While the way CAFO cows are raised negatively affects the quality of the milk produced, pasteurization further degrades quality:

Alters milk protein shape and structure that renders amino acids non-functional and can be highly allergenic. Destroys beneficial bacteria naturally in milk and severely lowers the micronutrient and vitamin content. Encourages the growth of harmful bacteria and changes lactose (naturally occurring milk sugar) into beta-lactose. Beta-lactose is rapidly absorbed into the body, raising blood sugar and leaving the drinker hungry and craving more to feel satisfied. Makes insoluble most of the calcium in raw milk. This can lead to all kinds of problems, especially in growing children, including rickets and bad teeth. Destroys about 20% of iodine in raw milk, which can lead to constipation. When milk is homogenized, as well as pasteurized, a substance called xanthine oxidase is created which can act as a free radical in the body and contribute to oxidative stress, implicated in chronic conditions like cancer and heart disease.

What does raw milk have that pasteurized CAFO milk doesn't?

Basically, raw milk from clean, healthy, grass-fed cows is a totally different substance from pasteurized CAFO milk. Raw milk is a profound healing agent, full of nutrients and other factors your body needs to thrive, such as:

Healthy beneficial bacteria. Valuable enzymes, like phosphatase, which aids calcium absorption in bones and lipase enzyme that helps hydrolyze and absorb fats. Natural butterfat, vital for effective utilization of vitamins and minerals in milk. It's also your best source of preformed vitamin A, and contains re-arranged acids with strong anti-carcinogenic properties. Cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) Healthy, unoxidized cholesterol. High omega-3 and low omega-6 ratios - the most beneficial ratio between these two essential fats.


5 Raw Milk Benefits

1. Reduces Allergies

Studies now suggest that children who drink raw milk are 50 percent less likely to develop allergies and 41 percent less likely to develop asthma compared to children who don’t. (3) A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology involved 8,000 children with various diets, and one of the conclusions that researchers made was that by drinking raw milk, children experienced “naturally immunizing” effects. (4)

As documented on the Real Milk website, many other studies carried out over the past century have shown that raw milk benefits and supports children’s growth and development in other ways too, including increasing immunity against infections, boosting dental health and supporting skeletal growth, for example. (5)

You might be wondering: How can raw milk reduce allergies, and isn’t dairy tied to high rates of intolerance or sensitivities? Nutrients like probiotics, vitamin D and immunoglobulins (antibodies) found in raw milk naturally boost the immune system and reduce the risk of allergies in both children and adults. Enzymes found in raw milk help with digestion but are often reduced or destroyed during pasteurization, which can contribute to lactose intolerance.

2. Helps Improve Skin Health

Dairy might have a bad reputation when it comes to causing or worsening acne and skin inflammation, but this is far from the case with raw milk. As we’ve seen, the benefits of raw milk are numerous, but surprisingly one of the most common reasons that people consume it is to benefit their skin. The success stories of people consuming raw milk to improve conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne are very widely reported.

Raw milk benefits the skin for the following reasons:

It contains healthy fats: Because raw milk contains large amounts of healthy saturated fats and omega-3 fats, it supports skin hydration. In fact, some people don’t only consume raw milk, but they use raw milk as a moisturizer topically.  Today, goat milk soap bars are popular around Europe and making their way to the U.S. more often, and recipes for homemade moisturizing face creams using raw milk can be found all over the Internet. It supplies probiotics: Probiotics in raw milk can kill off or balance bad bacteria in your gut, which can dramatically affect the health of your skin. Research shows that inflammation and unbalanced gut flora contribute to skin issues such as acne and eczema.

3. Helps Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies 

According to the USDA, nearly 1,000 calories a day in the average American’s diet (out of a total 2,775 calories) can be attributed to added fats and added sugars or sweeteners. In comparison, nutrient-rich foods like raw dairy, fruits and vegetables only contribute about 424 calories. (6) You can see why deficiencies in nutrients like magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin K are so common.

One serving of raw milk contains about 400 milligrams of calcium, 50 milligrams of magnesium and 500 milligrams of potassium. (7) These minerals are vitally important for cellular function, hydration, building bone density, blood circulation, detoxification, muscle health and metabolism. These happen to be three minerals many children and adults are deficient in, which is especially problematic considering most people have a high sodium intake.


Raw milk face cream - Dr. Axe


4. Can Be Used to Make Probiotic Foods

Probiotics are microorganisms that line your gut and support nutrient absorption. They also help protect you from foreign invaders like E. coli and parasites. The best way to include probiotics in your diet is to get them in their most natural state, which includes raw milk products, such as cheese, kefir and yogurt. Real, raw and organic probiotic yogurt, cheeses and kefir have been consumed by some of the healthiest populations living around the world for thousands of years (such as those who call the famous Blue Zones home). Some disorders probiotic foods are known to help with include:

Colon cancer Diarrhea Inflammatory bowel disease Intestinal infections Irritable bowel syndrome Skin infections Weakened immune system Urinary track infections Vaginal yeast infection

5. Doesn’t Contain Added Sugar or Synthetic Ingredients

In addition to pasteurization, conventional milk also usually undergoes a homogenization process. Homogenization is a high-pressure process that breaks down fat into tiny particles — however, fat subjected to high heat and pressure becomes oxidized and rancid. Many low-fat dairy products also have thickening agents added to make up for lost texture, and some have even been tied to rising rates of inflammatory diseases like cancer. Raw milk needs no added thickeners or shelf-stabilizers and also doesn’t contain added sugar or flavors.

Most foods have some levels of natural sugar, including raw dairy, which has the type called lactose. The natural sugar in dairy is balanced with other nutrients and therefore not a concern (even healthy for you in moderation). However, many dairy products now contain multiple added ingredients, including extra sugar or artificial sweeteners, to boost taste. Added sugars come in many forms (for example, cane juice, corn sweetener, dextrose, fructose and high fructose corn syrup) and are unnecessary and harmful in excess.

Raw Milk Nutrition Facts

Raw milk is truly one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world and has a nutritional profile unlike any other food. I understand if you’ve been cautious in the past about drinking raw milk because of all the negative media it might have earned, but I’m sure you’ll change your mind once you learn why more and more people are drinking raw milk every day. Some of the main reasons that over 10 million Americans now drink raw milk on a regular basis include:

Healthier skin, hair and nails Nutrient absorption Stronger immune system Reduced allergies Increased bone density Neurological support Weight loss Help building lean muscle mass Better digestion

What exactly makes raw milk such an incredible superfood? Let’s take a look at its unique nutritional profile, and it will become clear.

Nutritional Profile of Raw Milk

Fat-Soluble Vitamins A, D and K2

Because raw milk comes from cows or goats grazing on grass, research studies have shown that it contains a higher level of heart-healthy, cancer-killing, fat-soluble vitamins than milk that comes from factory-farm cows. (8) Studies have shown that one of the most common deficiencies in children is a lack of fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins support the brain and nervous system and are crucial for development, focus and brain function. Fat-soluble vitamins also support bone density and help naturally balance hormones, however they’re significantly decreased following pasteurization. (9)

Short Chain Fatty Acids, CLA and Omega-3s

In addition to being high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, raw milk from grass-fed animals is a rich source of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that’s widely known to control health issues related to inflammation, slow metabolism and stress resistance. (10) In fact, researchers in Japan conducted a study on mice that suggests that butyrate can be used to treat inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. (11) Additionally, raw, grass-fed milk is packed with conjugated linoleic acid(CLA), which according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Cancer has been tied to cancer prevention, healthier cholesterol levels and can even help reduce body fat. (12)

Essential Minerals and Electrolytes: Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium

Raw milk is one of the highest sources of minerals and electrolytes, which many people don’t get enough of. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of these minerals is lost during high-heat pasteurization. (13)

Whey Protein and Immunoglobulins

By far, the best-tasting curds and whey protein come from raw milk. Whey protein is fantastic for anyone who’s looking to burn fat and build or retain lean muscle. Whey is high in the following enzymes and proteins (amino acids) and the best way to get these immunity boosters is in their natural forms: alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin and immunoglobulin.

Probiotics: Kefir, Cheese and Yogurt

Probiotics are only found in small amounts in raw milk, but when you ferment raw milk to make foods like kefir, yogurt or cheese, the good bacteria dramatically increase. In fact, there are no other foods in the world as naturally high in probiotics as cultured dairy products.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to raw milk benefits. One thing to clear up here is that raw milk doesn’t just come from cows. Researchers have carried out comparative studies on the properties of goat milk compared to those of cow milk and have found reason to believe that goat milk can help prevent diseases, such as anemia and bone demineralization, sometimes better than cow milk can. Goat milk  has been linked with special benefits for digestive and metabolic utilization of minerals, such as iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. (14)

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Last Updated on: February 19, 2018
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