Benefits of Raw Milk: The Hidden Health Issues

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Milk provides us with calcium, which is essential for the maintenance of strong bones and teeth. Milk also helps us prevent hypertension, dehydration, obesity and a host of other ailments. When it comes to nutrients, it’s accepted as an important source of vitamin A, B, calcium, magnesium, protein, zinc, riboflavin and phosphorous, among others.

A study conducted at the Teagasc Dairy Products Research Centre indicates that milk is useful in balancing the cholesterol level in our bodies. Further, the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) has recommended the inclusion of milk and milk products like cheese and yogurt as part of a healthy daily diet.

Milk Consumption

Milk can be consumed directly in its fluid form or through its products like curd, ghee, cottage cheese and even butter. Milk, however, is more popularly consumed in its fluid form and those not having access to its fluid form drink it by dissolving powdered milk.

Milk in its fluid form that comes in ready-to-drink containers is usually pasteurized. Milk is also consumed in its raw form and the practice is becoming popular these days. The main reason milk is consumed raw is because it supposedly offers more benefits than pasteurized milk.

Those who consume raw milk claim that it has helped in conditions like asthma, ear infections in children and osteoporosis in seniors, among others. Proponents of raw milk consumption say that pasteurization lowers the vitamin C, B6 and B-12 content in milk and also the health-boosting bacteria like lactobacillus. For this reason, some are buying cow share whereby they get to consume raw milk from healthy cows.

The health benefits of raw milk aside, how safe is it?

Raw Milk Safety

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while accepting that milk provides a host of health benefits, cautions that raw milk has the potential to carry harmful microorganisms that could pose serious health risks. It also points out, at the time of writing, that more than 800 people have fallen sick after consuming raw milk since 1998.

Further, raw milk that is unpasteurized can carry such dangerous bacteria as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. These bacteria are responsible for several foodborne illnesses. Even food made out of raw milk is not safe for the above reason.

So, children, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems and the elderly should avoid consuming raw milk.

Symptoms of Bacteria infection

Vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, headache and body aches are among the symptoms of foodborne illnesses caused by consuming raw milk. If you become ill after consuming this raw product, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Pregnant women should be more careful when it comes to consuming raw milk. Listeria, the bacteria mentioned above, could cause fetal death, miscarriage and even death of a newborn.

So, to be on the safe side, you should avoid consuming raw milk or foods made from Mexican-style cheese like Queso Fresco or Queso Blanco. Even if you don’t fall sick, these foods can harm your baby.

Always drink pasteurized milk, as it does not lower milk’s nutritional benefits. Avoid raw milk as you’ll not get any additional nutritional benefits from it and instead run the risk of contracting foodborne illnesses.

References - benefits of milk - raw milk caution – risks of consuming raw milk