Whilst out hunter gatherer ancestors did not use milk products, there are many healthy nomadic and agricultural societies, dating back as far as 9,000 years, that depend on milk of cattle, sheep, goats, horses, water buffaloes and camels for their animal protein and fat and value this “white blood” for its life sustaining properties.
Today milk consumption is blamed for everything from chronic infections to cancer and diabetes.
Some people have low tolerance to milk because they lack the intestinal lactase, an enzyme that digest lactose, or milk sugar. mutation or a recessive gene allows continued production of lactase in some individuals. By some estimates, only 30-40% of the world’s population produces lactase In adulthood. Overuse of antibiotics also contributes to lactose intolerance.
However most intolerant individuals can consume milk products in small quantities without any problems. Some people are allergic to a milk protein called casein, which is one of the most difficult for the body to digest. The practice of fermenting milk is found in almost all traditional groups that keep herds. This process partially breaks down lactose and predigest casein. The end products, such as yoghurt, kefir, and clabber, are often well tolerated by adults who cannot drink fresh milk. Butter and cream contain little lactose or casein and are usually well tolerated in their natural state, even by those who are lactose intolerant.
Those with an extreme intolerance for milk protein can take butter in the form of ghee or clarified butter from which milk solids have been removed.
Milk sold in supermarkets is not great, partly because the modern cow is a freak of nature. A century ago cows produced 2 or 3 gallons per day; today it’s 3 or 4 times as much. This is accomplished be selective breeding to produce cows with abnormally active pituitary glands and high-protein feeding.
Cows are fed high-protein soybean, this stimulates them to produce large quantities of milk but contributes to a high rate of mastitis and other problems that lead to sterility, liver problems and shortened lives. Little research has been done to determine what these soy feeds do to the kind and quality of protein in cow’s milk.
The proper food for cows is green plants, especially the rapidly growing green grasses in the early spring and fall. Milk from properly fed cows will contain CLA as well as rich supply of vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, under current circumstances farmers have little incentive to pasture-feed their herds nor to follow other practices that result in high quality milk.
Another factor contributing to the degradation of today’s milk is pasteurisation. We have been told pasteurisation is beneficial, a method of protecting ourselves against infectious disease, but closer examination reveals that its merits have been highly exaggerated. The modern milking machine and stainless steel tank, along with efficient packaging and distribution, make pasteurisation totally unnecessary for the purpose of sanitation.
Raw milk contains lactic-acid producing bacteria that protect against pathogens. Pasteurisation destroys these helpful organisms, leaving the finished product devoid of any protective mechanism should undesirable bacteria inadvertently contaminate the supply. Raw milk in time turns pleasantly sour, while pasteurised milk, lacking beneficial bacteria, will putrefy.
But that is not all that pasteurisation does to milk. Heat alters milk’s amino acids lysine and tyrosine, making the whole complex of proteins less available; it promotes rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids and destruction of vitamins. Vit C loss in pasteurisation usually exceeds 50%; loss of other water-soluble vitamins can run as high as 80%.