💪 Immune Resilience #23: Raw Milk – A Healthy Food. Today there is a growing trend to demonise dairy – particularly milk – as a problem food and replace it with a whole variety of non-dairy alternatives and manufactured milk made from oats, soya, almonds and so on. And in truth, research is demonstrating that processed dairy IS a problem.

However, before we turn away completely from dairy, it’s important to distinguish the highly processed, pasteurised, homogenised ‘milk-like’ product – conventional milk – from traditional, unpasteurised ‘raw’ milk – the wholesome, healthy and nutritionally-complete food, which was once used as medicine.

For a full discussion of the (heart-breaking) story behind the rise and fall of milk and the health benefits of real, certified raw milk, read The Real Food Solution – see below. Here are the key points:

pasteurisation timelineRaw milk – a healthy food

Dr Josh Axe is a huge advocate for raw milk’s many benefits:

  • Contains butyric acid which regulates insulin sensitivity
  • Has a higher concentration of conjugated linoleic acid than pasteurised milk, which is important for weight management, blood sugar, immune function, allergies and more
  • Has higher omega-3 content
  • Provides high amounts of vitamin B2
  • Could help eradicate H. pylori infection

Raw milk vs pasteurised milk

‘Raw’ milk is a natural, unprocessed whole food... quite simply it comes straight from the cow. As the chart shows raw milk retains the full complement of nutrients, vitamins and minerals and enzymes – particularly the important enzyme lactase which enables us to digest the milk sugar lactose. Raw milk is also a probiotic food – microbes which support our gut and immune health.

Pasteurised milk is essentially a highly processed food product that has been industrially heated-treated, ostensibly to destroy potentially harmful bacteria. While we’re told this makes milk safer to drink, we can see from the chart that many important nutrient and immune factors are substantially destroyed. In truth, it’s a process that the milk processing industry has pushed onto the public to increase its shelf life.

'Raw' #milk is a natural, unprocessed whole #food... quite simply it comes straight from the cow. Click To Tweet

Homogenised milk has been put through an additional industrial process (after pasteurisation) to break down the size of the large fat molecules in milk so that they remain suspended evenly throughout the milk and no longer rise to the top of the milk to form a visible layer of cream.

Homogenising milk allows large-scale dairy farms to mix milk from different herds without issue and again, it lengthens the shelf life of the milk allowing large farms to transport milk over greater distances and do business with more retailers. Homogenising milk allows dairies to filtrate out the fat and then mix it back in to standardise the milk to create two percent, one percent and skimmed milk.

Types of Pasteurisation

There are a number of types of pasteurisation done at different temperatures and lengths of time required to kill certain bacteria. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, these include:

  1. Low-Temperature Pasteurisation (Vat) – 63ºC for 30mins
  2. High-Temperature Short Time (HTST) Pasteurisation – 72ºC for 15secs
  3. Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST) – 89ºC to 100ºC from 1.0sec to 0.01secs
  4. Ultra Pasteurisation (UP) or Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) – 138ºC for 2.0 seconds

Low-Temperature Pasteurisation: The lowest temperature option is significant because 145 degrees is below the temperature that kills the beneficial enzymes found in raw milk and only results in a slight denaturing of milk proteins.

However, valuable probiotics will be lost. For anyone concerned about drinking raw milk, this process can be done at home very easily.

High-Temperature Pasteurisation: HTST and HHST ( ‘flash’ pasteurisation) both result in significant protein denaturation. The natural enzymes and healthy bacteria in raw milk are destroyed along with the potentially harmful bacteria and also results in a drop of nutrient quality originally found in milk. I rarely drink (and do not recommend) pasteurised milk.

Ultra-High Temperature Pasteurisation: UHT milk can last over six months without ever being refrigerated and up to an additional three months once it’s opened and stored in the fridge.

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAFP) explains in detail how “ultra pasteurisation is an extremely harmful process to inflict on the fragile components of milk.”

Their sources have suggested that the ultra-heat treatment changes the molecular structure of milk so that it initiates an immune response (which is also one reason it could contribute to leaky gut).

Processed milk – is it safe?

Several recent studies suggest it’s not – especially for children:

The WAPF reports recent research which compared four milk processing methods: boiling (to imitate the pasteurisation process), microwave heating, spray drying, and freeze-drying.

The researchers found that heat-intensive processing methods caused oxidative damage to the proteins, and that microwaving caused more damage to the milk proteins than did boiling.

The study demonstrated varying degrees of spatial learning and memory impairment in rats and the researchers concluded: “humans should control milk protein oxidation and improve the processing methods applied to food.”

Moreover, when the rats were fed spray-dried and freeze-dried milk powder both groups developed oxidative damage in plasma, liver and brain tissue. Sally Fallon (WAPF) explains:

Manufacturers routinely add spray-dried skim milk to non-fat and low-fat milks to give them body—to keep them from looking blue. Spray-dried milk is the first ingredient in chocolate milk fed to children in school lunch programs. (The second ingredient is sugar.)

Just think, the main beverage that our children are drinking in school causes damage to the blood, the liver, and the brain! The children also get extruded cereal in school breakfast programs and they often put chocolate milk on their cereal! Is there any wonder that we have such a tragic health crisis in our children today?

van Lieshout et at (2019) conducted a systematic review of how processing may affect milk protein digestion and overall physiological outcomes. They concluded:

This systematic review demonstrates that dairy processing significantly affects protein quality and can be used as a tool to steer gastrointestinal protein digestion. Glycation* as a result of heat processing decreases protein digestibility and amino acid availability, leading to a decrease in protein quality. Physiological effects for a change in digestibility or digestion kinetics mainly point towards amino acid bioavailability and immunological consequences.

* Glycation is the process by which reducing sugars bind to proteins and results in the production of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). It is one of the major mechanisms responsible for atherosclerosis, ageing and diabetic complications.

Recent research from the Netherlands by Abbring et at (2019) demonstrated that processing milk induces hypersensitivity:

Raw (unprocessed) cow’s milk and native whey proteins have a lower allergenicity than their processed counterparts. The preclinical evidence in combination with the human proof‐of‐concept… pilot provides evidence that milk processing negatively influences the allergenicity of milk.

Sally Fallon concludes:

Avoid industrially processed proteins and powdered foods—especially anything that contains powdered milk or whey proteins—and stick to traditional methods of food preparation and processing.

Since all industrial processing methods damage milk proteins, the correct conclusion is that milk, Nature’s perfect food, should not be industrially processed at all—just consumed raw or made into cream, butter, or fermented milk products.

And I would completely agree!

Raw milk – is it safe?

The Weston A Price Foundation champion raw milk as a healthy food – in this comprehensive interview, Mark McAfee the Chairman of the Raw Milk Institute, and the head of Organic Pastures Dairy in the USA explains:

Raw milk – a healthy food: how to source

In England, we can buy raw milk directly from the dairy farmer: at the ‘farm gate’, from farmers’ markets and online from dairy farmers. It is always important to ensure that your supplier is certified – this ensures the producer has met the highest of standards of hygiene and food safety – higher hygiene standards than dairies producing only pasteurised milk.

Simkin.Com have produced a map of UK raw milk suppliers, many of whom deliver nationally.

Resilient health is holistic health…

Our health is in our hands … WE make the decision to create the lifestyle changes that bring energy, vitality and resilient health… so let’s take the first step, however small, and walk purposefully and consistently towards those goals.

This post is part of the Immune Resilience Series – with this series, I’m making a commitment to my subscribers to provide helpful, evidence-based information and insights into what we can do with nutrition and lifestyle medicine to build immune resilience – the capacity of our immune system to respond to external challenges (such as the Covid-19 pandemic) and return to a healthy state of wellbeing.





Our risk for contracting communicable diseases like the Covid-19 virus increases when our immune system is weak and a weakened immune system is largely the result of a less-than-optimal diet and an unsupportive lifestyle.

Even as we are experiencing this current crisis, we are also seeing underlying epidemics of chronic diseases of every kind – diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, degenerative, digestive and autoimmune disorders across the globe. These conditions too, are largely diet and lifestyle-driven and they are preventable.

We need to act now

We have robust science to show us that what we eat has never been more important for our health and, because all life is inextricably connected, for our planet. The Real Food Solution will help you to discover the power of real food as medicine for better health.. for you and for our planet.

Crises like Covid-19 are a test our humanity… let’s stop queuing up for loo rolls and start creating a strong, resilient foundation of immune health… together.

Stay safe, stay informed and get empowered, Izabella.

Order your copy today!

The Real Food Solution front cover


Izabella Natrins

I'm here to inspire and support women at midlife and beyond to re-ignite purpose and meaning to take back control of their health and create the radical, resilient heath they want and deserve. As a whole-health expert with over 30 years experience in the field, a qualified Health and Wellness Coach and Ballymaloe-trained nutritional chef, my real food nutrition and lifestyle medicine programmes support women fighting fatigue, struggling with overwhelm, weight gain, sleep, energy and niggling or multiple diagnosed health issues. As an advocate for real food nutrition, regenerative agriculture and whole-health, my book 'The Real Food Solution' is an evidence-based treasury wisdom for energy, vitality and better health for people and planet and a call to action to change the way we grown, source and cook our food. As the CEO at The UK Health Coaches Association, I'm proud to continue the task of leading the first professional association for Health and Wellness Coaches in the world and the gold standard for the UK and Ireland.

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  1. June 1, 2020

    […] 💪 Immune Resilience #23: Raw Milk – A Healthy Food […]

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