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Raw goat milk
vs. pasteurized cow milk

By Maurissa Einsiedel

Nutritionists through the years seem to agree that milk is one of the most basic necessities of a healthy diet. However, there is also an ongoing debate on how safe milk is to the human body. A number of changes in the way milk has been processed and handled over the years were meant to make the end product safer. It is my finding, after reading, researching and comparing types of milk, that raw goat milk, though sometimes a bit harder to find for the consumer, is the better choice for the health conscious human, than typical pasteurized cow milk, readily available at every grocery store in the country.

Pasteurization is the process which kills disease-causing and other desirable and undesirable bacteria or organisms. Milk is pasteurized by heating it to at least 160 degrees for 15 seconds, followed by rapid cooling to below 50 degrees. After pasteurization, the harmless lactic acid bacteria in milk are still present, but if the milk is not kept cold, the bacteria multiply rapidly and cause it to turn sour. However, the pasteurization process kills vitamins A, C, B-complex, and 20% of the iodine that raw milk provides. So why pasteurize milk if it kills all these beneficial bacteria? The answer is that it prevents diseases like tuberculosis, brucellosis, and Johannes. These diseases are more commonly found in cow milk rather than goat milk. Tuberculosis is a virus that usually affects the lungs. Brucellosis is a contagious disease. The disease is also known as a contagious abortion or Bang’s disease. In humans it is known as undulant fever. Another disease commonly found in dairy cows is Johannes. Johannes, also known as chronic wasting disease, is a neurological disease that causes lesions in brains of infected animals. Pasteurized milk with no warning label has caused over 238,805 people to get sick from Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, within a 15-year time span. Labeled raw milk has had no indication of illnesses reported from drinking raw milk.

Another process that cow milk must go through before retail is homogenization. Homogenization is the process in which fat globules are broken into a smaller form to keep it suspended within the milk. This process eliminates the natural separation of the cream rising to the top. Goat milk is naturally homogenized. It does not have to go through the homogenization process. It doesn’t separate naturally. The outcome of naturally homogenized milk allows greater ease of digestibility. Digestion of goat milk is faster because the fat globules are much smaller than in cow milk.

Dr. Sherilyn Renya of Washington State indicated that it takes less than 20 minutes to digest goat milk and cow milk can take almost a full 24-hour day to be digested. Signs of digestive problems are "heavy" feelings on the stomach after cow milk consumption, swelling or extensive gas, and loss of appetite. Goat milk has 13% less lactose than cow milk and most people who are allergic to cow milk tend not to be allergic to goat milk. Allergies are more common in very young children. In an allergic reaction, histamines that are stored in body cells produce symptoms as described above. Most of these symptoms are directly related to the protein found in the milk source.

A popular therapy among pediatricians is the change to a vegetable protein soy-based formula; however, an estimated 20 to 50% of all infants with cow milk protein intolerance will also react adversely to soy proteins. Approximately 40% of all patients sensitive to cow milk proteins, tolerate goat milk proteins, possibly because lactalbumin is immunospecific between species.

The biochemical differences between goat milk and cow milk are based upon the various components of milk fat and fatty acids. Goat milk fat has normally 35% of medium chain fatty acids compared to cow milk at 17%. Besides their unique flavor, which has serious consequences in improper handling of goat milk, these medium chain fatty acids have become of considerable interest to medical professions.

The taste of goat milk is similar to the taste of cow milk. The diet of the animal has a lot to do with the taste of the milk. The cliché, "what comes out is based on what goes in" holds true, especially in animals fed for milk production. If goats and cows are managed similarly, the smell and taste of both milks is quite comparable. The milk composition in raw goat milk and raw cow milk is quite similar, with protein, vitamins C, and vitamins D on the same levels. However, vitamins A, B1 (thiamin), calcium, iron and phosphorus are higher in goat milk. Today, many health experts warn people over 40 to watch their cholesterol intake. Goat milk has 12 milligrams of cholesterol while cow milk has 15 milligrams of cholesterol. Raw goat milk is sweeter in taste because it has more butterfat than pasteurized cow milk. Butterfat contains vitamins A and D, which is partly diluted from the pasteurization process.

To sum things up, there are more than 200,000 documented cases of human illness from pasteurized cow milk over a 15 year time-frame. Similarly, the raw goat milk industry has not had any reported cases. Goat milk has been medically proven to help those with cancer, and stomach diseases. Some doctors recommend goat milk to their patients, especially those with lactose intolerance problems. It is time for goat milk to be recognized as a healthy alternative to the ultra-processed, vitamin-diluted pasteurized cow milk products readily available to most consumers today. Someone’s life might depend on it.

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