Dairy often gets a bad rap. In honor of the Milk Moon (full moon in May), let’s set a few things straight:
While I personally choose not to eat cow dairy most of the time, I do believe it can have a nutritive and healing role in our diet. But most dairy products are not gathered or produced in such a manner that promotes health. More times than not, it isn’t the dairy that is bad, it is where it is sourced from and the process of pasteurization and homogenization that ruins its good name. In fact, recent studies have shown dairy to contribute to a host of health problems including acne, excema, endometriosis, PMS, uterine fibroids, menopausal discomfort, sinus problems, and earaches.
Pastuerization kills the beneficial bacteria in food AND the enzymes needed to digest it. In the case of milk, lactase is destroyed- the naturally occuring enzyme in milk that breaks down lactose (aka: milk sugar). It is no surprise then that most people develop health issues due to consuming milk when we destroy the very enzymes that allow us to digest it properly.
And then there’s the process of homogenization. Cow’s milk contains agglutinin, which causes it to separate when sitting for a time(cream on top, skim milk on bottom). Since our society seems to prefer uniformity, we homogenize our cow milk. This entails squeezing the milk through tiny holes under tremendous pressure in order to break down the fat globule cell wall, which allows the milk and cream to stay well mixed. However, once the cell wall of the fat globule has been destroyed, it releases a superoxide (free radical) known as Xanthine Oxidase. And as most of us know, free radicals are not our friends.
This discussion wouldn’t be complete without asking where is your milk, cheese and yogurt coming from? Is the dairy sourced from happy cows that are allowed to graze freely in green fields and soak up sunshine? Or are they crammed into dark and dirty factories? Are the cows being injected with antibiotics and growth hormones to keep them producing at maximum capacity and prevent them from getting sick, or are they allowed to live their lives as nature intended? How a cow is treated will greatly effect the type and quality of milk that she produces. What kind of milk do you want to drink?
My point? Most of us have a choice as to whether we drink milk and eat cheese that makes us sick or heals us. Many of our health issues with dairy are most likely due to how we process it, and where we source it from.
In order to benefit from dairy products, ideally we would be consuming them raw and cultured- giving our bodies the full range of enzymes and bacteria needed for our bodies to assimilate the health powers of dairy.
For those who do not have access to raw or cultured milk products, consider switching to to goat or sheep dairy, as they are usually easier to digest. And at the very least, choose dairy products labeled hormone-free and organic. The cows and your body will thank you for it.
For more on the easy digestibility of goat milk, check out the following sites: