Until the early 20th century, raw milk – natural milk sourced straight from the cow – was considered both a safe, nutritious drink and a medicine. Doctors would routinely prescribe it for a plethora of chronic ailments ranging from indigestion to constipation, and many native cultures regarded it as a perfect food. After all, just as eggs provide all the nutrients needed to grow a healthy chick, milk provides all the nutrients needed to grow a healthy calf.
In this article, you’ll find out why raw milk was held in such regard by every culture that consumed it. You’ll also find out how today’s processed milk, which has undergone pasteurization and homogenization, compares to it in the nutrition department.
Raw milk vs. processed milk
Vitamins – Vitamins A, C, D, E, and K are all found within raw milk, as are a large number of important B-vitamins such as choline, folic acid and vitamin B12. All of these vitamins have various roles, ranging from enhancing intestinal absorption of certain nutrients and boosting collagen production to aiding cellular metabolism or inhibiting free radicals. Processed milk, on the other hand, has a less impressive profile. Vitamins A and C are totally destroyed by the heating and pressing processes, as are 38 percent of the B-vitamins. Fortunately, vitamins D, E, and K remain intact.
Protein – All 22 standard amino acids are found in raw milk, including the eight essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make themselves. Consequently, raw milk is considered an excellent protein source for children and adolescents. Processed milk, however, suffers from a compromised amino acid profile. Studies show that pasteurization kills at least two of these compounds (histidine and lysine), which destabilizes the milk’s protein structure and inhibits its absorption rate.
Minerals – Like all whole foods, raw milk enjoys a mineral profile that has been optimized by nature for superior absorption. For example, the magnesium in the milk helps our bodies absorb its calcium. Minerals always work in tandem, never in isolation. Now, can you guess what happens with processed milk? That’s right – the amounts of each mineral within the milk is greatly diminished, completely disrupting the hitherto harmonious relationships between each nutrient. Consequently, some minerals (such as phosphorus and iodine) are difficult to absorb, whereas others don’t get absorbed at all.
Fats – Raw milk provides us with all 18 fatty acids needed by our bodies, including conjugated linoleic acid. These fats boost brain function and cellular metabolism, help form healthy cell membranes and more. In processed milk, though, the homogenization process actually oxidizes these fats, turning them carcinogenic. This makes processed milk toxic for us to consume.
Enzymes – Raw milk provides us with over 60 active enzymes that perform a wide range of tasks within our bodies. One of these enzymes is lipase, which helps us to actually digest the milk. Pasteurization and homogenization, however, destroy a massive number of these enzymes – including lipase. Ever wondered why so many people have a difficult time digesting processed milk? It’s because the very enzyme needed to digest it properly no longer exists!
All of this information makes for an obvious conclusion: raw milk is a remarkable whole food, whereas processed milk is a foreign, toxic substance without nutritional balance or stability.
If you are unable to access organic raw milk in your country/state for whatever reason, it’s better to stick with a nutritious milk substitute (such as organic almond milk or coconut milk) than pasteurized and homogenized cow’s milk. The latter is but a grotesque shadow of its former self.