This is where I started: Why are products such as milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt so hard for me to digest? And, what’s the difference and meaning behind the terms pasteurized, ultra-pasteurized, homogenized, GMO, organic, and raw when it comes to milk?
This is what I found: Basically, difficulty with digestion is a result of many factors, and ultimately depends on how the cow is fed, raised and treated before the milk comes out; and, how the milk is processed after milking. Here are some examples to explain what I mean. Milk terminology is no joke. Understanding these definitions alone helps to explain a lot. Here are definitions, with my commentary included of course.
This is what I wondered: If modern milk seems to cause so many health risks and digestive issues, why do we continue to produce and sell milk in this manner? There are several reasons, but I’m not sure how beneficial they are. Like everything, there are pros and cons to consider. I’ll point out a few things, but won’t get into the complexities.
- Pasteurized Milk: While it may kill dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks such as salmonella, E. Coli, and Listeria, it also leads to other serious health issues. It is associated with frequent ear infection, asthma, allergies, skin problems, and digestive disorders (e.g., lactose intolerance) to name a few.
- Raw Milk: Yes, it does leave us more susceptible to the health risks listed above. However, it is important to recognize that we encounter these risks to an even greater degree through produce and poultry. Raw milk also has several health benefits (e.g., easy to digest, contains fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K and E, improves symptoms of chronic fatigue, and can help fight asthma and allergies).
- GMO Milk: Milk from cows injected with rBGH, a synthetic man-made hormone used to increase milk production in cows. Milk with rBGH contains elevated levels of Insulin Growth Factor-1, a hormone linked to increased risks of cancer. In addition, these cows tend to develop more udder infections (mastitis), and are given more antibiotics than non-rBGH cows. Perhaps this is why rBGH is prohibited in all nations of the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and some other countries.
- Homogenized Milk: Allows farmers to easily mix milk from separate herds; prevents milk cream from rising to the top, which is attractive to the consumer (hmmm, not sure I’m so concerned with the look versus the impact) and allows for a longer shelf-life (i.e., increased access for the consumer and greater sales and profits for industry players); and, allows fat filtration to produce skim milk products such as fat-free, 1%, and 2%. Remember, when we remove the fat, we remove the ability for our bodies to digest fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K, and E. Milk fat may not be your preference, but your body needs fat for proper digestion.
This is what I leave you with: I believe a lot of these processes and decisions initially started because they made good business sense, and now we are realizing the grave costs to our overall livelihood and health. Today it may taste good or increase sales, but tomorrow it leads to a mood swing, the next day we are tired and stressed, and further down the line we develop a chronic disease, our food supply is no longer sustainable, we are getting sicker more rapidly, and drum roll please…our health care costs skyrocket. So what’s the solution? I don’t know, but fixing our food systems, regulations and habits seems to be a good starting point. I am hopeful and confident that we will get back on track; it’s just going to take quite a bit of time.