How many of us grew up being taught that we should be drinking milk every day. It’s great for our bones with all the calcium and vitamins in it. Have it in your cereal, in your coffee or tea, or just drink a glass of it. It’s great. Fortunately, not everyone agrees with this. There are a number of reasons why we should not sing the praises of this food as we have done in the past.
The first question is, do we really need it? Well if you are a young cow, by all means, yes. But I really don’t know of many cows who read my posts, so if you are reading this, I’m guessing you are not one. Have a think about it, we are the only being that drinks milk of any kind beyond infancy. It is a food designed for babies to get a nutrient packed food in a liquid form and to help them grow rapidly while their stomachs adapt to real food.
Cow’s milk is obviously the most popular form on the market these days, but to look at a cow compared to a human, there are a number of differences. Cows are a lot bigger than us and have vastly different digestive systems to us. Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk is actually far more digestible for us as their milk is far closer to human milk than the stuff that comes from a cow. Initially you may think that these options sound horrible, but really, the taste is very similar.
The second problem is the way all our milk is processed. Would any of you consider drinking milk that is unpasteurized or unhomogenized? Sounds crazy to some, but years ago, if you were to tell someone that they should heat treat their milk, then pass it through a very fine sieve to break up the fat particles, they would have locked you up in the insane asylum.
When the dairy industry was first born and someone decided to start transporting the stuff, there were problems. There was no way of keeping the milk cold, or ensuring that the equipment was sterile. Many kinds of bacteria was making its way into the milk so something had to be done. Enter pasteurization. A process that was invented by a Frenchman to remove all the living yeast left over in beer. Surely this same process was able to be used in dairy products? So they treated it with a short, intense burst of heat which killed all the bacteria off while maintaining the taste of the product. It could now be packaged, confident that it was safe to drink. The other benefit was that shelf life doubled!
Now have a think about these benefits. Do they still hold true today? We have great sterilization methods, processing plants and tankers made out of stainless steel which is perfect for transport along with refrigerated trucks, advanced testing methods that can detect any bacteria with in a very short time. Is there any need for pasteurization? No. The only reason we still use it is so the industry can be controlled by the companies and the product can sit on the shelf for far longer than before. Raw milk lasts no longer than a week before it turns sour. Pasteurized milk lasts far longer.
Add to this the fact that many of the vitamins and minerals in the milk are denatured, it’s not a good thing. This is only the tip of the iceberg where pasteurization is concerned, I could go on for ages, but I don’t want to bore you too much!
Homogenization is a process where the fat particles, or cream, are broken down into much smaller particles so they mix into the milk far better. If you look at pasteurized milk that has not been homogenized, you will see little globules of cream all through it. So what they do, is pass it through a very fine sieve at very high pressure to break these particles down so they are no longer visible to us. The problem here is the fact that our gut (intestines) have fine holes through it so that food broken down by our digestive system can pass through into our bodies to be used as fuel. The homogenized milk particles are actually small enough to also pass through, even though it’s not properly digested yet. The list of problems this can cause is a long one, like excess inflammation and allergic reactions.
What it all comes down to is, if you can tolerate dairy, see if you can find a raw source. Many countries or states have banned the sale of it, including where I live, but if you ask around, you may be able to get “bath milk”. This is sold for cosmetic purposes, although I don’t know anyone who uses it for this. Natural yoghurt is another thing worth trying, even for those who are lactose intolerant. Lactose is the sugar in the milk and when you create a product like natural yoghurt or cheese, the bacteria uses the lactose as food and transforms it into lactic acid (completely different to the stuff you get when running up hills). Just stay away from the flavoured stuff as this is just full of sugar.
Hope this has opened your eyes to the many issues surrounding dairy and will allow you to make more informed decisions in the future.