Milk has been a staple for thousands of years. Only in modern times (after 1950) has the majority of milk consumed been pasteurized (heated at a very high temperature for a certain period of time to kill all bacteria, good and bad).
While we've been told this a good thing for our health and safety, many healthcare professionals believe that since the era of pasteurization, there has been a notable increase in problems relating to milk intolerance, dairy allergies, problems relating to bones and teeth, heart disease, cancer, and gastrointestinal disorders. At the same time, many people who believe in the benefit of raw foods and dairy are voicing their concerns over pasteurization because so many nutrients and enzymes get lost in the process.
With so many people questioning this "article of faith" within the industrialization of milk production it seemed useful to review the theory behind pasteurization and the nutritional benefits of raw milk within the aspect of consumer safety.
Nutritionally speaking, what is lost during pasteurization?
All research records agree that the best nutritional source of milk is raw milk from a well cared for cow, which is grass fed without the use of antibiotics or hormones. There is also a well established record of proteins, vitamins, minerals, probiotics and enzymes lost in the pasteurization process.
Probiotics are bacterial organisms that perform helpful and beneficial tasks for body metabolism, cleansing and repairing. All foods contain bacteria. In raw milk, 95% of the bacteria are beneficial to your body. This beneficial bacterium helps to retard the potential growth of any pathogenic bacteria. During pasteurization, all of the bacteria, both beneficial and pathogenic, are killed during the process.
Enzymes are proteins that serve as catalysts for many metabolic functions. The enzymes in raw milk are helpful in aiding digestion. Because of this, many people who are lactose intolerant can drink raw milk because 100% of its enzymes are retained to aid digestion. In pasteurized milk where 90% of enzymes are destroyed, milk protein is rapidly absorbed without proper digestion creating difficulty for certain body types. Some scientists believe this may be a concern for diabetics according to "Abstracts on the Effect of Pasteurization on the Nutritional Value of Milk" at: www.realmilk.com.
Calcium is an essential mineral for many body functions, notably skeletal strength and joint movement. The pasteurization of milk makes the major part of calcium insoluble to the body. Fifty percent of milk's calcium is destroyed in the process and most of what remains is not bioavailable. Low calcium levels can lead to poor tooth development, bone problems, and nervous problems.
As for the other bio-minerals (choline, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, sulphur) contained in milk, these minerals have diminished values in pasteurized milk because the enzymes needed to catalyze the proper assimilation of these nutrients have been destroyed.
In raw milk all vitamins (fat and water soluble) are available for your body to process. In pasteurized milk, there is a 66% loss of vitamins A, D, E, and F. The loss of vitamin C exceeds 50%. There is a 38-80% loss of all water soluble vitamins. Vitamins B6 and B12 are virtually destroyed according to "In Praise of Raw Milk" by Julian Rose.
In the same manner, the valuable milk protein and the 22 amino acids available to the body with raw milk are destroyed or altered with the intense heat of pasteurization; and, what's left is now less bio-available to your body.
Pasteurization, instituted with the best of intentions to ensure the safety of public health, reviewed fifty years later seems to reveal unforeseen ill effects. Among the ailments linked to pasteurization are the rise in dairy allergies, osteoporosis, other bone and tooth problems and gastrointestinal problems. Many integrative health professionals have begun to realize raw milk's beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and the rich nutrients it contains.
Why is raw milk, the natural nectar produced by cow or goat, once considered a curative drink, so widely considered a dangerous health risk to be legally restricted?
In the early days of industrial milk production, conditions were often unsanitary. Migrant workers on the new 'factory farms' who frequently worked while suffering from tuberculosis, typhoid fever and other diseases, were pushed to efficiency rather than trained in quality care that marked the small family farm. In this environment, the dairy industry adapted pasteurization as a cure-all to overcome a lack of training, checking and testing for quality, clean conditions and securing a profitable production.
To find quality sources of raw milk, you can go to: www.realmilk.com. Documentaries that are eye opening are: Farmegeddon, Milk War, and Food Inc. It is always best to do your own research on what foods you think you'd benefit from. Being educated is a powerful tool.