Milk, which to buy?

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I grew up on a smallholding, it was a beef farm though we did have the occasional lamb and pig for our own consumption, but one thing we always had was a milking cow for the house. At first we had a Jersey, and then later a Fresian which my father name Mother Cow as she provided us with quiet a few calves. I learned the art of hand milking before we bought a simple milking machine and could probably milk by hand even now. I can still hear my father saying pinch and stroke as he first taught me how to milk.

So, all these years later, I still love milk. I know all you strict Paleo guys are against it, but for me I see no problem in consuming it, so for the rest of you who like me drink milk which is the best to buy?

So, off you toddle to the supermarket to buy a plastic carton which the farmer has made a penny from (I will save that rant for another day) which do you pick up?

Whole, Semi or Skimmed? The most popular milk in the UK is semi-skimmed which has had half the natural fat, in the form of cream, skimmed off the milk. Nutritionally though, whole milk may be a better choice. Why? When the cream goes so does half of the vitamins A and D found in the fat. With less fat content, proportionally semi-skimmed milk has a higher sugar content too. Skimmed milk has an even higher sugar content and is so watery that dried skimmed milk powder is sometimes added to give it more substance making this milk far from natural. If you currently use skimmed because you believe it’s a better health and weight-loss choice, consider switching as it really isn’t the best choice for you. Many people have been put off whole milk because of its fat content, but whole full-fat milk is not actually a high-fat food. Generally, anything over 20 per cent is deemed high fat, but cows’ milk usually only contains between 3.7 per cent and 5  per cent fat per 100 ml – even if it is made with richer cows’ milk, such as Jersey cows’ milk.

Semi-skimmed and skimmed cows’ milk contain 1-1.5 per cent and 0.1 per cent fat respectively, so unless you drink gallons of the stuff, switching to semi-skimmed or skimmed is unlikely to make any great impact on your fat intake

So why pick the whole milk? This is because your body can’t properly absorb the nutrients in the milk without its fat – not only the calcium and protein, but the vitamins in it such as A and D are fat-soluble, therefore your body needs the fat to process and store them. So skimmed milk fortified with vitamins and minerals is pretty much a waste of time.Recent research has shown that animal fat isn’t the bad guy it was once made out to be. The real baddies in our diets are now processed fats and refined sugar. So enjoy real unbastardised dairy produce in moderation.

Even better if you can get it is raw or unpasteurised milk, just like I used to drink back in the day. Raw milk contains multiple, redundant systems of bioactive components that can reduce or eliminate populations of pathogenic bacteria. It consists of important enzymes that aid in assimilating the nutrients present in milk. Possibly the most important is lactase enzyme that helps digest lactose milk sugar. One of the major raw milk drinking advantages is that it contains the beneficial bacteria both in terms of gut health and fighting infection, which otherwise get destroyed, when the milk undergoes the pasteurisation process.

There are a lot of scare stories on the use of raw milk, mainly pointed at the risks of food poisoning Let’s start off by being brutally honest. Raw milk does have a risk of contamination from harmful bacteria, but then so does all food! All food is likely to carry bacteria into our digestive tract, whether it was brought from the farm, the processing plant or simply comes into contact with a less than sterile kitchen surface. Much of the bacteria that will be in food is not pathogenic, it will do us absolutely no harm. in fact some bacteria will be beneficial. Humans have developed a symbiotic existence with the many trillions of bacteria that live around us and in us. The healthy human bowel is estimated to have 3-4 lbs of bacteria within it. So first and foremost we need to get over the assumption that all bacteria are harmful and therefore we must kill 99.9% of germs with our sprays and cleansers, nevermind our food. However, all food does carry a small chance of exposure to a few species of bacteria that can cause illness and harm. A couple of dozen, out of the many millions of bacterial sub types, are potentially harmful. There are four specific families of bacteria that are responsible for a large majority of the food poisoning in modern societies. These are Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella and E-coli. The only recent study was done in the USA by Dr Ted Beals who evaluated the actual incidence of bacterial infection from the ‘big four’ bacteria as a result of drinking unpasteurised milk. This was compared to the total number of cases of food poisoning from all sources across the nation from each specific bacteria over same time period. The figures he determined are as follows.

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So it looks like raw milk is hardly the big criminal out there.

So what should you be buying? If it was me I would be at the gate of the nearest raw milk provider. which you can find your nearest  on Natural Food Finder but if you are shopping in the supermarket buy the blue top milk or gold top (sometimes labelled as breakfast milk) The thing that gets me, is a lot of people now prefer the taste of the messed about milk compared to the natural stuff, Give me food in it’s natural state any day.

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