There are many different opinions surrounding milk and its health benefits. In fact, I was so confused by all of the conflicting information that I decided to educate myself so I could make an informed decision about which kind of milk, if any, my family and I should drink.
After extensive research, I have decided that the best dairy for my family is raw, whole milk. "Raw milk" refers to milk that is produced from free-roaming, grass-fed cattle, and that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. When milk is pasteurized, most of the beneficial enzymes and bacteria are killed by the heat and pressure. When you lose these enzymes and bacteria the milk becomes much harder to digest, causing digestive problems and other health issues. Raw milk can be purchased by the gallon, or used as the primary ingredients in raw cheeses, yogurts, and other dairy products.
A little history lesson on milk
During the 1900s, milk was pasteurized to guard against diseases such as tuberculosis and botulism. But we now know that the bacteria that cause tuberculosis and botulism are not eradicated when milk is pasteurized, because the temperatures aren't high enough. In addition, many salmonella outbreaks over the past few decades have been traced to pasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk actually contains bacteria that protect it from pathogens, so it is less likely to cause illness than its pasteurized counterpart.
Another reason that commercially produced dairy is not good for us is due to the growth hormones and antibiotics that are injected into the dairy cows on factory farms. Farmers inject hormones into their cows to increase milk production, which leads to more product and ultimately more profit. But producing more milk than they would naturally strains the cows' organs, causing them to lose weight and leaving them more susceptible to disease. In order to remedy this problem, cows are injected with growth hormones (also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone or rBGH). These hormones can increase the cows' risk of infection by up to 80 percent. Now, more antibiotics must be given to the cows, which can result in not only the antibiotics getting in the milk, but potentially even pus from the cows' infected udders. Doesn't sound too appetizing, does it?
Shockingly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims that there is no difference in the milk from cows that have been given growth hormones compared to milk from cows that have not been injected with rBGH. That might be because the small amount of research that exists on this topic was produced by the company that produces rBGH; so of course it isn't going to present any information that could have a negative effect on its profits!
So, what type of milk should you buy?
In my opinion, raw, whole, unpasteurized milk is the way to go. However, raw milk can be difficult to find. Due to the laws in many states, you will likely need to buy a share of ownership of a cow through a raw dairy co-op. In most cases, it is legal for you to consume raw milk from a cow that you own, as long as you don't sell that milk to the public.
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If you can't get raw milk, look for certified organic, whole milk or milk that has been pasteurized at temperatures lower than 145 degrees F. Be sure that any milk you buy is both hormone-free and free from antibiotics, as some milk companies claim that their milk is organic because it is either hormone-free or antibiotic-free, as opposed to being free of both.
Another important thing to note here is my suggestion to purchase whole milk. Contrary to popular belief, people that eat whole-fat dairy products tend to weigh less than those opting for low-fat dairy. It's very typical in the dairy industry to make up for that low-fat flavor in skim milk products by adding SUGAR, and processed sugar is the last thing you need added to your diet when looking to lose weight and keep your family healthy.
Want to skip the dairy altogether?
Give almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk a try. But be sure to read the labels, because some of these non-dairy milk alternatives can be high in sugar and unhealthy oils, such as safflower oil. Make sure your non-dairy milk contains only cashews, coconut, or almonds, and of course, water, without unhealthy additives such as carrageenan, guar gum, and evaporated cane juice.
Keep in mind that being successful with Beyond Diet is not dependent on going organic overnight. Take baby steps and congratulate yourself on the small victories. In time, you will become leaner and healthier than you ever thought possible!