Got Real Milk?

Dear Reader,

What’s the real deal on milk? Here’s my take…

Milk is one of Nature’s most nutritious foods. It’s packed with vitamins A, D, B6, B12, E, as well as calcium, beta-carotene, protein, life-giving enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids you need, including conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA—an essential fat that’s great for your heart, brain, nervous system, and overall health.

CLA, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and carotenoids have all been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

For most of human history people enjoyed the benefits raw milk, fresh from the source, without any health problems. Even today, many native tribes enjoy raw milk, like the Masai of Africa.

It wasn’t unusual even up until the late nineteenth century for folks in this country to keep their own cow for milk. Then “pasteurization” and “homogenization” came along as the population grew and demand for milk increased. It enabled dairy farms to sell milk in quantity across great distances without having it spoil.

This is where the problems started. When you force raw milk through metal pipes at high temperature—pasteurize it—or through tiny holes at extremely high pressure—homogenize it—what you get is a lot less healthy product.

Pasteurizing and homogenizing dissolve healthy enzymes, eliminate a lot of the vitamin content, denature fragile milk proteins, destroy vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kill beneficial bacteria, and make it easier for bad kinds of bacteria to flourish.

These process also make the healthy fat and cholesterol in milk more susceptible to rancidity and oxidation, and some research indicates that homogenized fats may contribute to heart disease.

And that’s not all. Commercial milk comes from grain-fed cows. Cows were never meant to eat grains. The result is an imbalance in fats and

nutrients in their meat—and milk.

And of course they’re pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. They eat grains laced with pesticides. They’re diseased animals. All of that stuff gets concentrated in their milk. In fact, back in 2004 the USDA performed tested a random number of commercial milk brands and found residues of seriously toxic pesticides in every single one.

The obvious solution to the problem would be to get raw milk. But it’s illegal in twenty-two states. Luckily, there’s another option.

Here’s what I do: I go with organic milk from grass-fed cows. It’s not as nutritious as raw milk, but it’s far more nutritious than its commercial counterpart.

A new study out of Britain found that even when it’s pasteurized and homogenized, organic, grass-fed milk beats commercial milk by a country mile. It contains:

• 67 percent more overall antioxidant and vitamin content

• 60 percent more CLA9, one of the most beneficial forms of CLA, with potent cancer-fighting properties

• 39 percent omega-3s

• 32 percent less omega-6s

In other words, it’s nutritionally balanced as Nature intended.

You also want to choose “whole” milk. You will not be doing yourself any favors by choosing low-fat or fat-free milk. It turns out that when the fat is taken out of the milk all that’s left are the milk sugars which actually make it high glycemic.

In fact, here’s a tidbit for you…pig farmers give their pigs low-fat milk because they know it makes them fat.

So, stick to whole, organic milk. It’s becoming much easier to find these days. You can find it in health food stores and the organic departments of many grocery stores.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

1 Zikakis, et al. Journal of Dairy Science. 1977. 60:533; Oster, K, American Journal of Clinical Research. 1971. Vol II(I).

2 Benbrook CM. “FAQS on Pesticides in Milk.” Organic Center. December 2006. Calculated from USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, 2005.

3 Butler et al. “Fatty acid and fat-soluble antioxidant concentrations in milk from high- and low-input conventional and organic systems: seasonal variation.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2008. 88(8):1431-1441.