We are bombarded with new nutrition information every day and with this, we end up asking more questions. Are superfoods really that super? Is it healthy to be vegan? How important is organic food in your diet? At orgayana, we try and debunk the myths and get to the bottom of what is true and what is false. Today, Rene Wrights takes a good look at our beloved milk products – now, is dairy bad for us, or not?
Many cultures have used milk as one of the staple ingredients in their diets. In the Hindu religion, as vegetarians, they relied heavily on dairy in their diet, as it delivered good sources of Vitamin C and absorbable forms of minerals. They also consumed fermented dairy, such as yoghurt made from raw cows milk. In French culture, as well as German (and European culture), they have enjoyed dairy, in the form of raw milk and raw cheese for centuries.
What exactly is in milk and dairy products?
Milk is made up of water, fat, proteins, lactose and minerals. It also contains trace amounts of enzymes and vitamins, such as Vitamin C and D. Lactose is the milk sugar and Casein is the milk protein. However, milk is a far reach from what it used to be, due to many different reasons.
How has milk changed over the years?
Around the early 1900s, milk started being pasteurised to kill off pathogens and bacteria and to prolong the shelf life of milk. This was done to prevent the spread of tuberculosis and to destroy a bacteria called Coxiella Burnetii, a heat resistant non-spore-forming pathogen commonly found in milk. Milk is a perfect breeding ground for many pathogens and bacteria, therefore it became important to pasteurise milk to prevent disease.
Raw milk is still the most nutritious form of dairy, as is raw cheese made from raw milk. Unfortunately, due to the pasteurisation of milk, many of the vitamins and enzymes in milk are destroyed, therefore dairy companies have to supplement the milk with vitamins and minerals after pasteurisation. The enzymes found in raw milk help our body break down lactose and casein and without their presence, certain people may become susceptible to dairy intolerance. Raw milk is banned in many countries, but certain states in the US are now allowing the sale of raw milk to their local community. Raw milk has a short shelf life, and therefore it isn’t ideal for transport and sales in cities, where the transition between farm and shelf are prolonged.
UHT stands for Ultra High Temperature or Ultra Heat Treatment. As the name suggests, the milk is heated to above 135 degrees Celsius to kill off any pathogens and bacteria, as well as spores that may start reproducing. UHT milk is the least favourable type of milk to drink, as all the vitamins and enzymes have been killed off in the process, and supplements such as Calcium Carbonate have been added to the milk. UHT therefore, in my opinion, is no longer the same as real milk and has little health benefit.
Other facts to consider regarding dairy.
A1 vs A2 Milk
The composition of milk varies from different breeds of cow. Have you come across A2 milk in Cold Storage? Have you ever wondered what it means? Here’s a simple breakdown of what this means. The two most common forms of beta-casein are:
A1 beta-casein – Milk from breeds of cows that originated in Europe such as Holstein, Friedman, Ayrshire and British Shorthorn.
A2 beta-casein – Milk from breeds of cows that originated in the Channel Islands and south France, such as Guernsey, Jersey, Charolais and Limousine cows.
Regular milk contains both A1 and A2 beta-casein but A2 milk contains only A2 beta-casein.
A1 beta-casein is a larger protein molecule than the A2 beta-casein, therefore harder to break down and digest. Drinking A2 milk has less of a demand on the digestive system as it is broken down easier than regular milk which contains both A1 and A2 beta-casein. This is also the reason that milk from goats or sheep is easier to digest than dairy from cows, as the protein molecule is much smaller, due to the smaller size of the animal.
You ultimately absorb what the animal absorbs from the food they’re fed. Think about that carefully! If the livestock is being fed GM grains, that has been sprayed with Roundup, which contains Glyphosate, they will absorb the toxins into their fat cells, bones, joints and milk. You, in turn, drink the milk, which now contains Glyphosate. Even though it may be a minute amount, Glyphosate, like most poisons, have an accumulative effect. So if you’re eating the GM grains sprayed with Glyphosate, then eating either the meat and fat from the animal or drinking the milk, you are being exposed to Glyphosate and absorbing it into your cells. Do this on a daily basis, all year around and you can see how our liver and cells become toxic. Therefore studies that show that Glyphosate is found in very small amounts in dairy, haven’t taken into consideration that we are consuming it every day and it eventually becomes too much for our body to handle.
I had an interesting conversation with one of the owners of Miss Kefir in Singapore. They produce Kefir and Kombucha for sale to businesses and the general public throughout Singapore and are based on the East Coast. When you make Kefir from milk, the bacteria from the kefir grains feed on the milk sugar (lactose) and breaks it down, reducing the lactose found in milk by 99%. This makes the milk digestible for people suffering from lactose intolerance. Kefir has a slightly sour taste, much like yoghurt, and therefore has to be consumed as such – ie. it cannot be used in your coffee or tea as a substitute for milk. But, it is a very healthy and tasty way of getting good bacteria into the gut and fighting/killing off the bad bacteria.
In my conversation, the owner of Miss Kefir informed me that they now make Kefir from Coconut Milk as well as Goats Milk. Hay Farms in Singapore produce goats milk that is lightly pasteurised, to make it safe for consumption, without killing off all the goodness found in the milk. Due to this pasteurisation process, the milk only has a shelf life of 10 days, therefore it is better to consume the goat milk as goat milk kefir, as this prolongs the shelf life of the milk, as well as infuses the milk with good bacteria from the kefir grains.
So, if you want that cow milk in your coffee, the healthiest options of dairy would be as follows:
- A2 Raw, Organic Milk or Raw, Organic Goat and Sheep Milk
- A2 Raw Milk or Raw Goat and Sheep Milk
- A2 Organic Milk or Organic Goat and Sheep Milk
- Lightly Pasteurised Goat Milk (found at Hays Farm in Singapore)
- A2 Milk
- Regular Milk or Regular Goat and Sheep Milk
Great alternatives to dairy would be:
Coconut Mylk or Cream
Cashew Nut Mylk
Soy Milk (Bonsoy is a good one, but milk from Soy is not recommended for everyone as it contains high levels of Phytoestrogens and can also come from GM Soy)
Nut Mylk made from organic nuts, which have been soaked and activated is healthier than regular Nut Mylk.
– If you’re wondering why the Mylk from nuts is spelt differently to Milk from Dairy, it is because the FDA wants to make the labels in the grocery store perfectly clear. For example, Milk and cream need to be “the lacteal secretion…obtained by the complete milking of one or many cows,” It is a way of distinguishing where the milk/mylk is obtained from so that the consumer knows what they are purchasing.
Through my research and the above information, in particular, the way dairy is produced today, I will have to conclude that it isn’t very good for you and does not benefit our systems much. Kefir, nut Mylk and Goat milk are healthier alternatives. Unless we could consume milk in an Organic, raw form that is safe to consume, I don’t believe that it is the healthier choice.
If you’d like to make your own Coconut Mylk, you can find the recipe here.