10 Reasons to Drink Your Milk Raw

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Reason to Drink Raw Milk #1:

Raw milk is a living food.

Unlike pasteurized and ultra-high-temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk, raw milk is a living food.   Several of milk’s natural components including beneficial bacteria, food enzymes, natural vitamins and immunoglobulins are heat-sensitive.   These health-promoting components of natural, raw milk are destroyed by heating and therefore not present in pasteurized or UHT milk.   Indeed, most foods – milk included – provide best nutrition when consumed in a raw or minimally cooked state.   While heating milk doesn’t change the mineral composition to any great degree, it does, however, change their bioavailability rendering all that lovely calcium less absorbable.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #2:

Raw milk is rich in beneficial bacteria.

As a living food, raw milk is rich in beneficial bacteria.   These bacteria are critical to your health; indeed,beneficial bacteria are so critical to human health that you cannot live without them.   These bacteria are responsible for stimulating and training your immune system to function correctly.   They also work in conjunction with your immune system to keep pathogenic bacteria at bay.     Indeed, they can be effective in the prevention and treatment of e. coli, rotavirus and salmonella infections.   By consuming foods rich in beneficial bacteria – like raw dairy products and naturally fermented foods – you can help to optimize the levels of beneficial bacteria present in your gut.   These bacterial allies are destroyed by pasteurization and are absent in pasteurized and UHT milk.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #3:

Raw milk is rich in food enzymes.

As a living food, raw milk is also rich in natural food enzymes: lactase, lipase and phosphatase number among many of these natural enzymes.   These enzymes help your body to better digest milk and better metabolize its vital nutrients.   Without these vital enzymes, the milk’s natural sugars, fats and proteins can cause reactions in individuals prone to food intolerances.   Enzymes like phosphatase help the body to better absorb milk’s calcium while other enzymes like amylase and lactase help you digest the sugars present in milk.   Lactoperoxidase, another enzyme found in raw milk, offers antimicrobial properties which, again, helps to keep potential pathogens at bay.   These enzymes are painfully delicate and very heat-sensitive, pasteurizing milk destroys them and the benefits they convey to you.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #4

Raw milk is rich in natural vitamins.

The butterfat present in raw milk is rich in natural fat-soluble soluble vitamins, particularly preformed vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin E.   (Learn more about fat soluble vitamins: vitamin a, d, e and k.) Raw milk is also rich in water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and B-complex vitamins.   A quart of raw milk from grassfed cows contains approximately 50% more vitamin E and 7% more folate than pasteurized milk.   Moreover, fresh raw milk naturally contains vitamin C which is completely absent from pasteurized milk.   Vitamins, like food enzymes, are delicate and are largely destroyed by heat; therefore, pasteurized milks are fortified with vitamins – and those fortifying vitamins are synthetic, laboratory-created versions of naturally-occuring vitamins.   They are not treated the same way as natural vitamins by your body.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #5:

Raw butterfat is rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid.

Meat and milk from grass-fed animals is rich in fatty compound called Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA.   Actually classified as a trans-fatty acid (but a good transfat!), CLA offers myriad myriad positive effects for those who consume it.   Indeed, research indicates that this substance is known to fight cancer (particularly breast, intestinal and bone cancers), hypertension and adipose obesity.   If you’re sourcing your raw milk well, you’re only sourcing it from grass-fed cows which means you’re consuming this important fatty acid – something that’s missing from that factory-farmed, pasteurized and skimmed milk at the grocery store (and yes, organic milk drinkers – there’s plenty of factory farming in the organic industry too!)

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #6:

Raw milk supports small farmers, not feedlots.

Pastuerization of milk was born out of necessity – as unhealthy cows from concentrated animal feed operations produce unhealthy milk.   Cows sickened by confinement and an unnatural diet of grain and mash produce lackluster, thin milk   poor in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and rich in pathogenic bacteria.   Sick milk from sick cows makes for sick people.   Pasteurization kills pathogenic bacteria just as it kills beneficial bacteria.   Rather than tackle unsanitary practices and concentrated feed operations as the root cause of food illness caused by raw dairy products, government officials instead mandated pasteurization.   Such action allows industrial dairies to continue operating in a way that sickens their cattle.   When you purchase pasteurized milk at the store – unless you’re careful about your brand – you’re purchasing it from industrial farms that promote poor health among their herd.

By contrast, raw milk is not produced on a massive, concentrated scale.   Instead, raw milk producers operate small operations with fewer cattle spread out over a larger amount of space.   Cows aren’t fed on feedlot grain; rather, their given space on fresh pasture and spend their time outside with access to shelter when they need it – as in the case of inclement weather.   By choosing to drink raw milk and eschew pasteurized milk, you’re supporting small, local farmers who value both their customers and their herd.   You’re supporting sustainable agricultural operations not the dairy mega-industry.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #7:

Raw milk is not homogenized.

Raw milk is not homogenized; rather, the beautiful fresh raw cream rises to the top to produce a lovely creamline.     You can skim this cream for use in making butter or a beautiful panna cotta, or just shake the jar up to evenly distribute the cream into the milk for drinking.   This cream and butterfat is in its whole state; it hasn’t been homogenized.   Homogenization is an intense process that forcefully breaks up the fat molecules present in butterfat thus allowing them to be suspended in rather than separated from the liquid milk itself.   This forceful and intense process leaves these delicate fats subject to oxidization.   Oxidized fats contribute to heart disease, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.   Homogenization spells bad news for your heart and your body as a whole.   Fresh, raw milk is not homogenized and so the fat molecules remain intact – wholesome and healthy.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #8:

Raw milk is easier to digest.

Fresh, raw milk is easier on your stomach and digestive tract.   Components naturally present in raw milk, but killed by pasteurization, enable you to digest raw milk better than cooked, pasteurized milk.   Lipase, lactase and amylase – each enzymes mentioned above – work in conjunction with macronutrients present in milk – helping you to better digest the milk as a whole food.   Pasteurization, by contrast, renders milk hard to digest.   This is particularly true of the proteins present in milk which are denatured by high heat.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #9:

Raw milk clabbers.

Leave a carton of pasteurized milk out on the counter for a day, and you’ll end up with a putrid, stinking glop.   By contrast, raw milk will clabber as its beneficial lactic-acid producing bacteria proliferate and turn raw milk into a probiotic-rich, yogurt-like food.   Bonny clabber is a traditional food originally from Scotland, though most peoples across the globe enjoy similarly clabbered milks through their traditional food heritage.   Clabbered raw milk is not only edible, but particularly healthful as its sugars have been metabolized by lactic-acid producing bacteria and continue to proliferate.   Since these bacteria have been killed by heat in pasteurized milk, such milk won’t clabber; rather, molds and yeasts will rot the milk.   Moreover, milk that has been subject to pasteurization at ultra-high temperatures isn’t even suitable for cheesemaking.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #10.

Raw milk supports your local economy.

Raw milk is a delicate food and is not suited to traveling long distance, nor is it shelf-stable at room temperature.   Pasteurized milks and UHT milks in particular can and do travel long distances before arriving from the dairy to your door.   These milks are often mixed with the milks of several dairies prior to pasteurization so you, as a consumer, lose the opportunity to question your dairy farmer about the milk you serve your family.   Further, the money you spend on such milk is divied between your grocery store, the broker/supplier, the branded dairy and, lastly, the farmer.   By purchasing raw milk locally and farmer-direct, 100% of the money you spend on your milk stays in your farmers pocket and in your local economy.

For more information about raw milk, check out this post: How to Choose an Organic Raw Milk Dairy.

Cross-posted at Real Food Wednesdays.