June is National Dairy Month, and while this observance has been celebrated with fervor in the past is that still the case? Just exactly what is
the view of the dairy industry these days?
The dairy industry has definitely come under fire in recent years, with controversies regarding growth hormones
, unnatural cows and more. While recent media campaigns have created more positive attitudes, two newer questions are being raised: Which is healthier, raw milk or pasteurized milk? And should you even drink milk at all? To Pasteurize or Not To Pasteurize?
Okay, so maybe that first question is older than we think. After all, developing countries and countless farmers have been drinking milk straight from the cow for years. Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Minnesota, I did it all throughout my formative years and I
turned out OK (for the most part). So . . . if they’ve been doing it, then why are we even talking about this as if it’s an obvious answer? Not so fast.
Pasteurized milk goes through a process called (you guessed it!) pasteurization that kills dangerous bacteria living in the milk. You may have heard of a few of these bacteria; Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. Pasteurizing milk is simply heating it to a specific temperature for a predetermined amount of time, and that’s all. According to the FDA, there is no meaningful difference in nutritional values between pasteurized and non-pasteurized milk and dairy products. Critics disagree, however
. They argue that by pasteurizing milk, we are losing out on valuable nutrition. Additionally, the cows that produce raw milk are often fed grass exclusively instead of the grain that cows are traditionally fed, and many believe that this grass provides us with more fat-soluble vitamins and other nutrients. Others simply claim that raw milk tastes and feels better than pasteurized milk. An important thing to note – if you are lactose intolerant it doesn’t matter if you drink or eat pasteurized or non-pasteurized dairy products; either one will still trigger allergic reactions. Got Milk? Nope, Don’t Want It
If you can’t decide between raw milk or pasteurized milk, how about no milk instead? Scientists are now arguing that drinking milk may not be as beneficial as we once thought . . . especially in the fight against diseases such as osteoporosis, where bone loss occurs due to calcium deficiency. The United States consumes massive amounts of calcium
compared to every other country on the planet, yet we also have the highest rate of osteoporosis. In countries where people rely on plant-based diets, they are consuming much smaller amounts of dairy-based calcium yet rarely develop osteoporosis.
Researchers argue that it isn’t a lack of drinking milk that’s the problem. Instead, they say it’s that we eat too much animal protein. You see, when your body digests animal protein, it produces sulfuric acid which must be buffered with calcium. The more animal protein you eat, the more calcium you lose. To back these claims up, study experts found that women who had 1,400mg of calcium each day (higher than the 1,200mg recommended daily intake) and 96g of protein were actually losing calcium. Keeping the same intake level for calcium, the researchers reduced the protein intake to 30mg and discovered that the women were finally keeping some calcium.
It’s possible to completely avoid drinking milk and still get as much calcium as you could possibly need just by eating leafy greens such as kale, mustard greens and spinach, or basically, any food that is low in phosphorus and high in calcium. Whether you choose to drink raw milk, pasteurized milk, or no milk at all, each has its own benefits. By trying all three options you can see what the best choice would be for you.
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