Raw milk consumption can be a controversial topic, depending on who you talk to. I actually grew up on raw milk, as my family had two dairy cows on our farm in Lander, WY. I didn’t think much of it then, it was just what we did! But in recent years raw milk has grown in popularity, especially in holistic circles. This caused me to go back to the research to understand WHY raw milk. I’ve discovered that raw milk has loads of benefits, and now my entire family drinks raw milk every day! I’m sharing five benefits of raw milk, and why you should start incorporating this superfood into your diet daily.
What is Raw Milk?
Raw milk is unpasteurized milk that is straight from the animal to your glass. Think milk in it’s most natural state. Raw milk hasn’t been put through the pasteurization or the mechanical process of homogenization. Raw milk is complete with bioavailable vitamins, minerals, enzymes, beneficial bacteria, naturally occurring CLA and omega-3 fatty acids because it loses nothing in the pasteurization process.
Is Raw Milk Safe?
If you are new to drinking raw milk, you might have heard of the so called “risks” in drinking raw milk products. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) & Center for Disease Control (CDC) claim that raw dairy products can carry harmful bacteria, e. coli or other foodborne illnesses that can make you sick. However, he risk of this happening is very, very low. In fact, according to medical researcher Dr. Ted Beals, M.D., you are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk. (source). According to a 2014 John Hopkins study, illnesses attributable to raw and pasteurized milk over the years 1980 to 2005 indicated almost 11 times more illnesses attributed to pasteurized milk than to raw milk (source).
Need more? Dr. Chris Kesser did a thorough investigation to understand the reality of raw connected to illness / death. Chris found that your chances of becoming hospitalized from a bacterial illness caused by raw milk is three times less than your chance of dying in a plane crash. In fact, he discovered that you have a better chance of death by infection from raw oysters than you do of getting sick from raw milk (source)!
So… yes raw milk safe to drink, and not only that, but everyone could benefit from drinking it daily! Like any food you source, you should always ask questions and make sure you are purchasing good quality dairy.
Health Benefits Of Raw Milk: 5 Reasons to Drink Some Everyday
The benefits of raw milk far out way any “potential risks”. In fact, when you compare the benefits with the supposed risks I think you will see that there’s no reason not to start drinking raw milk!
1. Raw Milk is Nutrient Dense
One of the main reasons to choose raw milk is the retention of its nutrients. The pasteurization process, which involves heating milk to high temperatures to eliminate bacteria, also destroys some of the valuable nutrients present in the milk. Raw milk, on the other hand, retains its vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria. The best raw milk is from grass fed cows, which ideally have not been treated with antibiotics.
Raw milk is truly one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world and has a nutritional profile unlike any other food. One glass of raw cows milk provides:
- Calories: 150
- Raw Protein: 8 grams
- Raw Fat: 8 grams
- Calcium: 30% of the RDA
- Vitamin A: 6% of the RDA
- Iron: 6% of the RDA
Raw milk is a great source of:
Fat Soluble Vitamins A, D and K2
Research has shown that a common deficiency in kids frequently involves inadequate levels of fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins play a vital role in promoting the health of the brain and nervous system, and they are important for the brain and nervous system. Fat-soluble vitamins also contribute to strong bone density and play a role in naturally regulating hormones. Unfortunately, the process of pasteurization substantially diminishes the presence of these essential vitamins.
Short Chain Fatty Acids, CLA and Omega-3s
SCFAs foster gut health by providing energy to colon cells, potentially reducing inflammation, improving immune function, and influencing cognitive well-being. CLA, found in higher quantities in raw milk from grass-fed cows, contributes to weight management, muscle mass preservation, and enhanced insulin sensitivity. Omega-3s, especially prevalent in raw milk from grass-fed sources, promote heart health, reduce inflammation, and support cognitive development, including visual acuity and brain function.
Essential Minerals and Electrolytes: Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium
Raw milk is one of the highest natural sources of these minerals and electrolytes. One of my favorite ways to recover post-workout is to make a smoothie with collagen protein and raw milk.
Whey Protein and Immunoglobulins
Whey protein isa great option for anyone who’s looking to burn fat and build/retain lean muscle. This type of protein is high in the following enzymes and proteins (amino acids) and the best way to get these immunity boosters is in their natural forms: alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin and immunoglobulin (source).
Raw milk contains the good kind of bacteria that can support a healthy gut. You can also dramatically increase the amount of good bacteria by fermenting raw milk into kefir, yogurt or cheese.
2. Raw Milk is Healing
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation “Since ancient times, physicians like Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny and Varro have used raw milk to cure a wide range of diseases. Hippocrates advised tuberculosis sufferers to drink raw milk in quantity. In the Ayurvedic medicine of India, milk is used in the practice of brimhana meaning to “buck up” or nourish the body. It’s also used in rasayana to rejuvenate the body and in vajikarana, to promote sexual function and fertility. Physicians prescribed raw milk as a gentle laxative, to cool inflammation of ulcerated tissues, and as a galactagogue to increase milk production for the nursing mother. In the U.S., raw milk was used for one hundred fifty years to treat a wide range of conditions and is still used today in some hospitals in European and other countries” (source)” The fact that raw milk can heal the body is another benefit that can’t be overlooked!
The foundation also shared an interesting story about Dr. J.R. Crewe, founder of the Mayo Foundation who treated disease for decades using a raw milk diet. Fascinating!
3. Raw Milk can Boost Your Immune System
Another incredible benefit of raw milk is that it can boost your immune system. Raw milk contains immunoglobulins, specifically IgG, that support immune systems function. In fact, there are multiple studies that have shown raw milk consumption is correlated with improved immune system function. Raw milk has also been correlated with reduced risk of respiratory infections and fevers, as well as decreased risk of allergy and asthma (source).
4. Raw Milk is good for your skin
Did you know that raw milk can also improve the quality of your skin? People have also seen results improving conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne. Its rich content of vitamins A, D, and K2, as well as enzymes and healthy fats, can contribute to a clearer complexion and improved skin tone. Vitamin A supports skin cell turnover, promoting a smoother texture, while vitamin D plays a role in skin repair and immune function. Enzymes in raw milk can aid in exfoliation, helping to remove dead skin cells and revealing a fresher appearance. The presence of healthy fats and moisturizing properties in raw milk can help maintain skin hydration, leading to a more radiant and youthful look. Probiotics in raw milk can kill off or balance bad bacteria in your gut, which can dramatically affect the health of your skin.
Try this raw milk face cream:
- 2 TB raw cream (skim it off the top of your raw milk)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 TB raw honey
Mix together and apply to a clean face. Leave for 2-5 minutes and rinse off
5. Raw Milk might improve fertility issues
There has also been some evidence of raw milk improving fertility! While fertility issues can be complex, fertility can often be tied into our overall health. A nutrient deficient diet tied with a high stress lifestyle can negatively affect our adrenals and thyroid which affect all of our hormones and ultimately our fertility. Raw milk might boost fertility by supporting organ function, filling the nutrient gaps, and regulating hormones (source). It can be hard to consume all of the nutrients we need daily, and raw milk is an easy way to ensure a nourished diet.
While there isn’t any studies or scientific evidence to support this, I’ve heard stories of women who claim raw milk has helped. If nothing else, you can trust that raw milk will help fill in the nutrient gaps your body needs, and promote regulated hormones.
Where can I find Raw Milk?
The best place to source raw milk is from local farms. You can support your local agriculture and ensure you are buying high quality milk from a good source. Make sure that the animals are not treated with antibiotics. Pasture-raised cows are the best for the most nutrient dense raw milk. To find a raw milk farm near you, you can use realmilk.com.
Some health food store also carry raw dairy products, so. be sure to check local options.
Can Kids drink raw milk?
The short answer is a resounding YES! The nutrients found in raw milk are invaluable for young children! Raw milk can help to fill in the gaps for picky eaters and provide them with all the nutrients they need to develop. Pure milk and dairy products are also super easy to prepare and serve. Most kids love the taste of raw milk & cheese! I offer both my kids (3 and 1) raw milk with every meal, and they also eat raw cheese nearly every day. It’s not usually recommended for babies to drink cow’s milk until after their first birthday, but I think it’s a smooth transition from breast milk once they are weaned. The weston a. price foundation has some great research and articles on how raw cow’s milk formula can make the best substitute for breast milk in babies (article here).
Some Facts About Pasteurized Milk
Conventional milk is hard to digest
During the pasteurization of milk, enzymes necessary for the digestion of milk are deactivated. This means that digestion can only happen if the consumer can produce enzymes, specifically lactase. According to studies, “an estimated 70-75% off the world’s population is lactose-deficient. Lactose intolerance is very common among Asian, South American, and African persons. Lactose intolerance also appears to have a higher prevalence in patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) than healthy individuals.” The good news? If you are lactose intolerant you may still be able to drink raw milk.
Conventional Milk is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized
Louis Pasteur developed a process to heat milk and other liquids to kill harmful microorganisms in the 1860s. As dairy farms grew and mass production of milk become widespread, pasteurization became the standard to improve milk “quality” and make it more shelf stable. Unfortunately, when milk is cooked at this ultra-high temperature, the result is a nutrient-poor final product. Pasteurization destroys friendly bacteria, beneficial enzymes for nutrient absorption, antibodies and hormones. It also diminishes fat soluble Vitamins A, D, and E along with Vitamin C, and completely destroys Vitamins B6 and B12! This is why nearly all milk products sold in the store are fortified with synthetic Vitamin D. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to drink milk in the state it was intended!
Factory Dairy Farm Animals eat a GMO, herbicide treated diet
The diet of conventionally raised cows is usually grain, corn, and soy. The problem here? Corn and Soy are not only commonly genetically modified (GMO), but they also account for a huge percentage of pesticide and herbicide use in the United States. Hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic pesticides are applied to corn and soy crops that are grown to feed factory farmed animals (source). Often these animals are not healthy and require the use of antibiotics to survive, which causes more problems in the milk they produce. This milk is often much less nutrient dense, may contain harmful traces of pesticides and antibiotics, and may also cause inflammation.
The Problems With Other Milk Alternatives
Unfortunately, a wide variety of HIGHLY PROCESSED non-dairy milk alternatives have become popular over the past decade. Some of these processed alternatives include:
- Almond milk
- Soy Milk
- Oat Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Rice MIlk
Many of these alternatives have become popular because they are lower in fat and calories than traditional milk. The problem with many of these milk options is that they are highly processed, and often contain added ingredients like sweeteners, artificial flavors, preservatives, and thickeners. If we are talking about consuming foods in their natural state, processed milks like the list above shouldn’t be considered.
Can Pregnant Women Drink Raw Milk?
Another resounding YES! The amazing nutritional benefits of raw milk in it’s natural form apply to pregnant women too. In fact, in the book “nourishing traditions book of baby and child care“, Sally Morell suggests that pregnant women should drink “four cups of raw milk or five-six ounces of raw cheese daily” to meet the calcium needs of pregnancy. She also write that “the milk that pregnant women should drink should be raw, from grass-fed cows”.
Raw Milk Recipe Ideas
Raw milk can be used anywhere that you would use milk! Use it in recipes, smoothies, coffee, and more. My kids love “chocolate milk” which I make with raw milk and chocolate collagen powder.
Or, if you could try these homemade raw milk powerhouse recipes:
- homemade greek yogurt
- homemade kefir
- homemade butter
Where have you used raw milk?
Does It Have To Be Cow’s Milk?
Not necessarily! Another superfood in the milk department is goat’s milk. Personally I don’t like the flavor of goat’s milk quite as much, but it also has some incredible benefits. Researchers have carried out comparative studies on the properties of goat milk compared to those of cow milk and have found reason to believe that goat milk can help prevent diseases, such as anemia and bone demineralization, sometimes better than cow milk can (source).
If you need another reason… support your local farmers!
Choosing to drink also supports local farmers and sustainable agriculture. Many small-scale farmers rely on the sale of raw milk to sustain their operations, and by purchasing raw milk, you’re directly contributing to the growth of local economies. Moreover, raw milk’s production has a lower carbon footprint compared to large-scale industrial dairy operations. The emphasis on small herds and traditional farming practices in many raw milk operations can lead to reduced environmental impact. By opting for raw milk, you’re aligning with a more environmentally conscious approach to dairy consumption.
I also love the community aspect of purchasing from small farms. I’ve gotten to know the woman that I get my milk from, and I am planning to take my boys to her farm to see where their milk comes from.
I hope I’ve shown you some of the amazing benefits of raw milk. It truly is a superfood! Raw milk is nutrient dense, healing, immune boosting and good for your skin. It tastes delicious and is good for the whole family. Real milk has been consumed safely for many centuries and the risks are minimal (if any). If you are intrigued to start adding raw milk to your diet, consider researching local farms in your area that offer raw milk. Give it a try, and you might just get hooked. We certainly are in the Plante household!
Raw milk might just be the wholesome, unprocessed addition your diet has been waiting for – connecting you back to a time when food was simpler, fresher, and closer to nature.