Raw Cow’s Milk has Protective Effects on Allergies and Asthma
May 05, 2020 04:43PM
By Shannon McKenzie
There is a significant body of epidemiological evidence that consumption of raw milk in childhood and adulthood can be one of the most effective protective substances against allergic diseases and asthma, even though milk is one of the most common food allergens in childhood. The role of raw milk ingredients such as proteins, fat and fatty acids and bacterial components has been studied and its influence on the immune function has been documented.
Cow’s milk is now processed on an industrial scale to avoid the risk of pathogenic bacteria infection from unpasteurized milk. The consumption of raw milk is much less common than in the past, but a number of consumers, especially those living on farms, still drink milk directly from cows. For more than a decade, evidence has indicated that living on a farm can reduce the risk of allergen sensitization and allergic diseases in children.
The protective effect on allergies and asthma of raw milk is weaker with processed or commercial milk, as the processing changes its composition. Raw milk is subject to two basic processes: UHT homogenization and sterilization, which affect the content and functionality of fats, bacteria and proteins. Homogenization is the breaking of fat pellets into smaller ones to prevent the formation of cream on the milk surface. This process changes the physical structure of fats, casein and whey proteins. It also increases the total surface on which casein proteins are more easily adsorbed. The quality of fat in milk depends on the ingredients cows are fed. If it is grass without any industrial mixtures, the content of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids is higher.
Heating is another processing procedure. It might be the pasteurization process (heating), which reduces the bacterial content and enzymes that allow such milk to be stored without refrigeration for several months. Scientific evidence confirms that heating raw milk influences its allergy protective properties. The presence and composition of bacteria is the clearest difference between unpasteurized and processed milk. The prevalence of pathogens in milk depends on numerous factors, but raw milk can be contaminated with pathogens even coming from healthy animals, as dairy farms may be the reservoir of various foodborne pathogens.
There is a debate about the role of raw cow’s milk role in human health. Sceptics say that raw milk carries a significant risk of bacterial pathogen infection and there is no clear evidence that raw milk has any nutritional benefits compared to pasteurized milk. Enthusiasts see in milk the hope for effective prevention of allergic diseases and even respiratory tract infections. There is no doubt that the components of raw milk can influence the immune function, but the final proof based on controlled studies in infants is not possible due to ethical reasons. Undoubtedly, even if the final understanding of the role of raw cow’s milk seems to be a distant prospect, it is one of the most intriguing and promising paths to be studied in allergy prevention.
LD Peeler is owner of Milky Way Farm, located at 220 Hidden Hills Rd., in Starr, SC. For more information, call 864-617-5911 or visit SCMilkyWayFarm.com. Abstract - National Institute of Health.