There's a lot of debate as whether or not milk is good for you. But like most things related to health, you can always find information on the internet to support your belief. Some argue that milk was designed purely for the baby animal it was created for while others believe it is a healthy source of sustenance and calcium.
My personal beliefs around milk and other dairy products lies somewhere in the middle. Oriental medicine teaches us that nothing is ever good or bad...it always depends on the circumstances, the individual, the time of year, and so on. Essentially whether or not milk is good or bad has to be looked at on a case by case situation.
What I can say is that conventional homogenized milk and dairy products are lacking vitality and are filled with nasty things. So in that sense, I will say that this type of milk is not good and should be avoided. Conventional milk and dairy products have been proven to contain synthetic vitamin A, synthetic vitamin D, growth hormones, pus, herbicides and/or pesticide residues and is usually produced in a facility using antibiotics contributing to an antibiotic resistant epidemic and feed their cows GMO soy and corn that is both bad for the cows and the environment. Not to mention this type of dairy consumption has been linked to cancer, acne and digestive disturbances,
If you want to consume dairy then the best way to go is raw. Yes, I know you have heard that raw dairy products are dangerous but given the current situation of our dairy facilities I wholeheartedly believe that raw milk and other dairy products from local pasture raised cattle is the most beneficial. When milk is pasteurized to kill bacteria...it actually also kills all the good stuff too. Here are some health benefits of raw milk:
Health Benefits of Raw Milk
- Healthy bacteria that are beneficial for your gastrointestinal tract
- More than 60 digestive enzymes, growth factors, and immunoglobulins (antibodies). These enzymes are destroyed during pasteurization, making pasteurized milk harder to digest
- Phosphatase, an enzyme that aids and assists in the absorption of calcium in your bones, and lipase enzyme, which helps to hydrolyze and absorb fats
- High amounts of omega-3 fats while being low in inflammatory omega-6
- Beneficial raw fats, amino acids, and proteins in a highly bioavailable form, all 100 percent digestible
- Vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K) in highly bioavailable forms. Also has a balanced blend of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron) whose absorption is enhanced by live lactobacilli
- Healthy unoxidized cholesterol
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has a number of health-promoting benefits, including anti-cancer activity
The biggest issue about consuming raw milk and other dairy products is finding a local farmer that you trust. Eat Wild is a great resource to find raw milk near you. If you are unable to find raw milk or are still a bit skeptical then the next best thing would be fermented organic pasteurized milk. And I do not mean store bought kefir and yogurt, I am referring to fermenting organic pasteurized milk in your home. Homemade fermented products will always have more beneficial bacteria and way less sugar. I will save this topic for a later blog post.
Oriental Medicine Perspective
Milk is energetically slightly cold and is sweet. It goes to the heart, lung, and stomach channel. It is said to be a stomach tonic. It produces fluids and lubricates the intestines. Milk tonifies deficiency and the blood. It also removes toxicity. It is indicated to consume milk when a person is weak, has physical strain, constipation, diabetes, regurgitation and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). You should not consume milk if you have weak digestion or deficiency cold in the spleen in stomach. You would know if you have deficiency cold in the spleen and stomach if you have these symptoms:
- Feeling cold, cold limbs
- Slight abdominal distension after eating which becomes more pronounced as the condition worsens
- Pale complexion
- Weakness of the limbs
- Loose stools to watery stools, nausea and vomiting,
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain that can be sharp at times
- Pale tongue with a white coating
- Tendency to obesity
I just wanted to finish by saying that I personally do not consume a lot of dairy products but have on many occasion consumed raw milk fresh from the cow in countries such as Ecuador or Bolivia and have never been sick as a result. We are also quite fortunate here in Santa Fe to be able to purchase raw milk both at the farmers market and La Montanita Food Co-op. Of course always make choices that you feel comfortable with because at the end of the day you are in control of your health, but I just wanted to shed light on the fact that the dairy that most people are consuming may be causing more harm than good and finding a fresher, local, and grass fed product would be a better option.