How Healthy is Dairy, Really?

Today we bring you a post originally published at Granite Fitness, who have been kind enough to let us use some of their work. 

There have been new and confusing reports about milk and dairy products in the news. The dairy council has come out with a report that three servings a day will help you lose fat and weight. At the same time, another study, which is not as well publicised came out saying that children who drink more than three servings of milk a day have more weight problems. So what is the truth?

As Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD. wrote in their article, “The Plot of Soy” in 1999, organic, cultured butter is available in many stores. It has restored enzymes and high vitamin A content in many people. Contrary to widely held opinion, there is no evidence that butter contributes to heart disease or cancer.

At the turn of the century, butter consumption in the United States was 18 pounds per person per year, similar to that of other western countries. Today it is a mere five pounds. As butter consumption has plummeted, cancer and heart disease have risen dramatically. So after further investigation, researchers have honed in on a more likely culprit.

The real blame for this increase, according to some researchers, points squarely at hydrogenated butter substitutes—margarine and shortening, and not butter. Butter contains many nutrients that protect us against disease. Those with severe allergies to milk products can still eat clarified butter, better known as ghee, and enjoy its good taste and numerous nutritional benefits.

Dairy products have been a major part of many cultures’ diets for thousands of years. But the dairy products we have in our grocery stores in western countries are very different than the dairy products consumed by people in the past. The real problem today lies with how we get our dairy products and how they are processed.

Let’s start from the beginning and explore the way modern cows are fed. You probably don’t know this, but they are given a diet of high-protein soy and grain based feed instead of the traditional grass feeding methods. We know that grass fed cows have six times higher CLA (conjugated lineolic acid) content in their milk than in grain fed cows, and more Omega 3 fatty acids. CLA helps the body convert fat to muscle, fights cancer, and does many other beneficial things for our bodies.

Because of modern feeding methods for cattle, we get almost no CLA in our diets with normal grocery store dairy products. Also the vitamin A and D content of grain fed cows is much lower. Modern breeding methods also produce cows with abnormally large pituitary glands, so that they produce three times more milk than ordinary cows.

This means that these cows need hormones and antibiotics to keep them well in their crowded and unsanitary living environments. The hormones and antibiotics go into the milk, causing trouble for those of us who consume it. Antibiotics are not working the way they should for us anymore because we consume so much of them that we even become resistant!

The milk from these grain-fed cows is then pasteurised, which destroys dozens of valuable enzymes. Without these enzymes, the milk becomes very difficult to digest. This explains why so many people are lactose intolerant. This also over-stresses the pancreas as it tries to compensate for these missing enzymes.

Pasteurisation also destroys much of the valuable vitamin content of the milk. We have been told that pasteurisation is needed to keep milk cleaner and kill bacteria. What it really does is allow huge dairy farms to get away with dirty milking practices. I do concede though, that some of this might sound like a conspiracy theory. Who knows what the truth is?

Finally, when they make 1% and 2% milk, they add non-fat dried milk to these products to lower the fat percentage. Non-fat dried milk is ultra-processed, which oxidizes the cholesterol. Rancid (oxidised) cholesterol and fats are what promote heart disease. Dried milk also has very high nitrite content. Raw milk, on the other hand, is very good for you.

Contrary to popular belief, raw milk is actually known to be safer than pasteurised milk, even for babies and small children. Children who have been fed raw milk have more resistance to TB, scurvy, flu, diphtheria, pneumonia, asthma, allergic skin problems and tooth decay. In addition, their growth and calcium absorption are superior.

Of course, as with all foods, raw milk must come from healthy cows and be carefully handled and stored. The same technology that we use to pasteurise our milk also allows us to keep raw milk fresh and clean. If you are buying directly from a farmer, find out if the cows are kept mostly on pasture and that the barn is kept clean.

In an ideal scenario, the milk should go directly from the milking machine into a stainless steel tank or clean containers and be kept chilled. It should be used within a period of one week, after which it will begin to go sour; although it is not dangerous when it does so. With these precautions, raw milk is not only healthy but a safe food for all members of the family, even babies.

Dairy products, meat and whole foods, when properly prepared, are healthy and life giving. As much as possible, avoid meats and dairy products that have been processed. Hope this has been helpful for you. Always be mindful of what you put into your body, and don’t blindly believe what people tell you.

Originally published here.

 

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Samantha Olivier
Samantha has a B.Sc. in nutrition, and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogospere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Twitter at or in a tea shop.
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