WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH MILK?
Whole milk, skim, soy, rice milk, almond… it’s all a little complicated isn’t. Who should drink what and why?
For a very long time Soy milk was the golden child, plastered all over the media as a perfect substitute for dairy, a milk option for vegans and a must-have for women. We now know that’s not really the case, with processed soy milk (and soy products) proving to be quite detrimental to health when consumed in excess.
We hear that skim + lite milk is great for those looking to lose weight, but then again we also hear that it’s pumped with sugar which actually leads to weight gain and ongoing health issues.
Rice milks are supposedly a natural option, but that is if they are made fresh from brown rice (not white, which is mostly sugar) and without the added sugar. Almond milk is easy to make at home but is expensive and doesn’t keep for that long…
If you weren’t confused before, well you probably are now.
But I am not going to debate the benefits and side effects of all the ‘milk’ varieties we have available. I’m going to do something that I try to do with every food choice I make. I am going back to the wholefood dairy milk option. Cow’s milk. But I am going to look at it in its true, natural form. Whole. Raw. Organic.
We’ve all heard that cow’s milk is actually bad for us – sapping our bones of much needed calcium instead of replenishing it. Why? Well… it’s not the cows, it’s not their milk even. It’s what we do with it that affects the milk and in turn our health. You see, we pasteurise all milk – a heating process to clean and sanitise the milk created by Louis Pasteur, in the 1860s to sterilise beer and wine. The problem with this is that pasteurisation destroys folic acid and Vitamins A B6 and C found in raw milk. Pasteurisation inactivates the naturally occurring enzymes found in milk required by our bodies to absorb the nutrients in milk.
The reality is, our processed/pasteurised milk contains less calcium than raw milk and therefore, we are getting considerably less of this much needed mineral.
It gets worse. Pasteurization also…
oxidises cholesterol (exactly what we are constantly fighting against when we talk ‘anti-oxidants)
alters the proteins and damages the omega-3 fats
destroys lactic acid bacteria which aid digestion and immunity
As you are reading this I am sure you are wondering. Well, why the heck do we pasteurise our milk? Well, here is a little story I just had to share.
Traditionally people enjoyed milk that came to the family, fresh from the family cow or in glass bottles from the local dairy. But, eventually, urban dairies sprang up next to whiskey distilleries. This is the sad bit, poor dairy cows were confined and fed a very cheap diet of ‘distillery slop’ – the leftovers from whiskey production.
The milk was eventually called ‘slop milk’. Poor quality, watery, no nutritional value and not even good enough to be made into butter or cheese.
So, we have confined cows eating a non-traditional diet (grass and hay makes for a happy cow!) Add to that the unhygienic conditions of the dairy and the workers and what we end up with is unhealthy, diseased cows producing milk for the masses.
This led to a growing public health crisis – infectious diseases were spread by this poor-quality milk. Fatal outbreaks of scarlet fever, typhoid, tuberculosis and diarrhoea rose sharply, with many children dying. It’s easy to see what happened next. Eventually, despite a few that fought for raw milk, milk was accused as the culprit despite the reality that it was the hygiene standards and dairy practices that needed to be managed and inspected. Pasteurisation slowly became the law.
Now, we understand what pasteurisation does to our milk and why we pasteurise it in the first place.
What we can clearly see though, is that you take a cow away from its natural way of eating and living and it will have negative consequences to both the cow and those drinking her milk.
Today, the conditions of our dairies and the level of hygiene is different yet pasteurisation is still law. Raw milk is illegal in Australia and most of America – although you can find certain states that sell it in the U.S.
This brings us back to raw milk. Whole, full-fat, unchanged. Nothing added to it, nothing taken from it. Isn’t this what eating a ‘wholefood’ diet is about? When you think about soy, skim, rice, light – it makes me question, what happened to the milk, the bean, the rice in order to get it to this state ready for our shelves and our consumption.
But, when looking at whole, raw milk it is easy to see why it could be beneficial:
Contains folic acid, Vitamins A, B6 and C
Contains lactase to digest lactose
Lipase to digest milk fats
Phosphatase to absorb calcium which helps to digest lactose (often when people are ‘lactose intolerant’ it’s because they aren’t getting the lactase which helps them digest it)
Lactic acids + other beneficial bacteria which live in the intestines, aid digestion, boost immunity and eliminate dangerous bacteria
Contains a cortisone-like agent that combats arthritis, cataracts and arteriosclerosis
Raw milk butter contains a pancreatic cancer + arthritis fighting acid called myristoleic
Effective for weight loss, inflammation, skin conditions and high blood pressure
Builds lean muscle
Keeps you fuller for longer – good and needed fats that are more satisfying for the body and the brain
Raw milk, from happy cows will offer up many health benefits. The key here is the source. You want to enjoy raw milk from a clean dairy that looks after its milking cows and offers up space for it to graze and enjoy it’s natural diet – grass, not grain, corn or soy.
Cows have four stomachs which are designed, as a fermentation system, to convert grass which is mostly cellulose into fat and protein – pretty nifty huh. Despite gaining weight faster on grain, this diet creates stomach acidity for cattle which leads to illness which leads to antibiotics. So, clearly, you want to be drinking raw milk from healthy cows munching grass and staying off the meds.
I truly believe that if it’s available to you, eating everything as close to its natural state is the best way forward towards health. If I’m every confused by an item at a supermarket, I simply ask myself what its natural state is. Often, that leads me to place it back on the shelf, because by the time it’s made it into that bottle it most certainly has undergone irrevocable damage.
I know that raw milk is unavailable to us (or is it… see what you can find on the net, some dairies sell it is ‘cosmetic use only!’) so if you are utilising other milk alternatives, choose wisely. Look at what else has been added to it, go easy on soy (2-3 times a week is plenty!) see if you can make your own nut milk and perhaps consider if dairy, in its poor quality pasteurised form is so necessary in your diet.
At the end of the day trust your instincts and go with what feels right for you and your body, but remember, what you see isn’t what you always get. So keep it whole, real and as close to its natural state as possible.
Signing off with an exhale.
Pause. Listen. Live.