Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Which Milk is Best?

This morning I had a very good question from a friend of mine asking about milk and which type of milk is the best.  There are a few choices out there in regards to milk ranging from almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, goat's milk and even sheep milk.  I personally limit my cow's milk to, at the most, once a day and instead drink water as my beverage of choice.  In my smoothies I use rice milk (I used to drink almond milk until I realized the correlation between almonds and my migraines).

Assuming that one is not lactose intolerant, or allergic to milk, or has any other problems such as female reproductive issues, it is fine to drink cow's milk in moderation. My friend's question was directed not to the source of the milk but to the type of milk and the homogenization process.

This may be a complete shock to a lot of readers but I recommend either 2% or whole milk.  We NEED the fat in milk to help in the assimilation of calcium from the milk to be better absorbed by our bodies.  The whole low-fat diet thing can lead to a lot of problems including, but not limited to, nutrient deficiencies (Vitamins A and D are two examples of fat-soluble vitamins and these are both found in milk).  As well, the sugar vs. fat ratio becomes too unbalanced and what's left is a surge in blood sugar.  Taking out the fat in milk also results in a 20% relative increase in protein, which makes the kidneys work harder.

Other great dairy sources include Buttermilk and Kefir.  My kids LOVE Kefir.  Kefir is basically a drinkable yogurt that has so many wonderful probiotics in it.

I also love milk that comes from grass-fed cows.  When cows eat what God intended for them to eat - grass and any accompanying weeds in the fields - they naturally consume the omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).  This in turn means that not only will their milk contain these needed fatty acids but also their meat. Depending on where you live it can be more difficult to find grass-fed milk.  Whole Foods (my FAVORITE store) sells brands of milk that come from grass-fed cows (Snowville Creamery is one example and this brand also is not homogenized). Kroger sells a grass-fed brand in their natural dairy section as well. I usually buy either grass-fed or organic milk (if I can find an organic milk that is also grass-fed, even better!).

A note about the homogenization process: the theory is that homogenization, by breaking up milk molecules into smaller pieces, allows some substances to pass through the intestinal wall unchanged by the digestive process.  One of these substances in milk is an enzyme called xanthine oxydase (XO).  After passing through the intestinal wall it ends up in the bloodstream.  As it goes through the arteries it scratches and corrodes the inside of the arterial walls, casing small cuts.  The body tries to defend against this by depositing cholesterol over the cuts to avoid further damage.  This can, theoretically, eventually lead to hardening of the arteries.  Snowville Creamery, as I mentioned, sells non-homogenized milk and I'm sure there are other companies out there that do the same.

Milk is actually treated by the body as a food, not a drink, so consume in moderation. I always prefer my family to consume milk from cows that are not treated with bovine growth hormone, are fed either a grass diet and/or organic feed, and are antibiotic free. If you have any questions about this please let me know.  Below is a link to Snowville Creamery's website.


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