Scared of Raw Dairy? Don’t Believe These Myths. (Plus, the Dirt on Conventional Dairy)
Dairy has been (and still is) used in cultures worldwide for medicinal purposes.
Are you surprised?
Most of us have been bogged down with warnings to eliminate dairy because it’s wreaking havoc on your gut – and especially your skin. We’re told dairy and acne are intricately linked. We’re told our guts will never heal if we consume dairy products.
Yet – wise, centuries-old traditions like Ayurvedic medicine continue to use milk as a foundational “delivery system” for healing herbal medication. These traditions believe milk plays a role in repairing the gut, supporting the colon, calming indigestion, and more.
So how did our culture get to the conclusion that dairy is bad?
And if dairy really is that bad, why are some now raving over raw dairy as a magical alternative? Isn’t that even worse?
It’s a lot to unpack, but first – let’s talk about why dairy has gotten such a bad rap.
It might surprise you.
What’s Actually in Conventional Dairy These Days vs. Raw Dairy
On the surface, raw dairy is painted as a dirty, bacteria-contaminated product. It’s been given a bad reputation. But there’s a lot to uncover when comparing conventional dairy (what you see in grocery stores) to an organic, unprocessed, whole-food product.
Let’s start with conventional dairy.
“Dairy,” as we know it, is a totally different product these days. It’d be hardly recognizable next to a natural dairy product – and not in a good way.
Conventional, grain-fed dairy is full of antibiotics, pesticides, steroids, and hormones that you would NOT normally have in your body. This can do a lot of internal damage, throwing off your natural hormones and causing inflammation throughout your body.
But here’s the catch: conventional dairy is only inflammatory because of what’s added to it + how it’s processed. The problem is not dairy itself – it’s the careless farming and processing methods.
There are two main problems:
Cows at conventional dairy farms are fed terrible diets of filler grains like genetically modified corn. It’s not even close to what they would eat in the wild – they naturally eat grass, not grains! But dairy farms make more money by feeding the cows cheaper food.
Of course, they won’t call it “sanitized” or “altered” to you, but that’s what’s happening. They use intense heat (pasteurization) to make it “safe” for drinking and inject it with air (homogenization) to make it “uniformly mixed” so layers don’t form. But in the process, they strip the milk of all essential vitamins, fats, digestive enzymes, and nutrients. No wonder it’s irritating to the gut!
The enzyme lactase is also removed in this process. Lactase helps your body process + digest the lactose found in dairy products. (This is what most people have issues with when they have a “dairy allergy.”)
Homogenization is used to make milk look pretty and more appealing to drink. It’s a process that blends the top fat layer with the thinner bottom. But it pushes air into the milk and changes the makeup of the fats – oxidizing the milk. And we know that oxidation can cause free radical damage + inflammation.
Raw dairy, on the other hand, is highly compatible with your digestive system + body.
It contains lactase to help your body digest lactose. And in its natural state, it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats – all helping your body function optimally.
In its natural form, dairy even contains probiotics that improve gut health.
So if this is all true, how did we go from dairy being a literal medicine that heals diseases to being insanely “bad” for both our health + our skin?
A big player: the false info + myths circulating about dairy.
False Info About Dairy
Generally speaking, false information about dairy has been combined + assumed to be true about dairy in its natural form too. But as you’ve seen already, they’re very different end products and shouldn’t be placed in the same category.
Here are some of the biggest myths to debunk.
Myth: Dairy Is Hard to Digest
This actually isn’t true – pasteurized + homogenized dairy is hard to digest, but raw dairy is not.
Similar to the concept of using whole plants and animal ingredients with their activators, raw dairy is more biocompatible. This means it’s more easily absorbed + used by your body. The problem with digestion lies in how we treat raw milk to get it “safe enough” to drink + “pretty enough” to sell in stores.
Another aspect that affects digestion: homogenization. Since this process injects air into the milk, oxygen enters your gut. And oxygen is not meant to live in your gut – it helps bad bacteria thrive + overpopulate.
If you look at the makeup of raw milk, you’d see the opposite. In its natural state, it provides nutrients + amino acids that are easily digestible – not to mention essential building blocks for your body.
MYTH: Raw Dairy Causes More Illness Outbreaks Than Pasteurized Milk
There was a study that claimed raw dairy causes 150x more illness outbreaks than pasteurized milk. It sent people (and regulators) into a frenzy.1
But as many sources have since pointed out, the study was flawed for several reasons, which we’ll briefly explain:2
- They found no statistical difference – only 36% of outbreaks came from raw products – that’s not a majority. Yet they claimed because the percentage of raw products available/produced is smaller than conventional dairy, it must mean there’s a higher outbreak rate overall “per serving.”
- The data was not strong, + the conclusion was biased. The study even admitted that they had somewhat low-quality data on this topic due to the complexities surrounding the debate. And the study was done at a time when lawmakers were hoping to ban raw dairy products… sounds suspicious…
- They ignored the only randomized controlled trial on illnesses and milk pasteurization – which proved the opposite!3
MYTH: You Have to Choose either Raw or Ultra-Pasteurized Dairy
If the thought of raw dairy just scares you for whatever reason – you can still benefit from dairy in its natural form, without all the additives or intense processing.
You may not know there are different forms and “levels” of pasteurizing. But the standard processing involves high temperatures and prolonged exposure.
Why? It’s more efficient for producing high volumes of dairy.
But some companies offer more thoughtfully-produced milk that’s not processed for as long or with lower temperatures to preserve nutrients.
Here are a few brands:
→ Kalona SuperNatural – grass-fed, organic, batch-pasteurized, and non-homogenized dairy products. They also practice beyond organic farming as an added plus for the environment.
→ Straus Family Creamery – grass-fed, organic, no preservatives, fillers, artificial additives, or coloring. They also collaborate with family farms + practice carbon-neutral farming.
→ Alexandre Family Farm – grass-fed or other transparent options, regenerative organic farming, and also raise A2/A2 cows, which produce more easily-digestible proteins.
Another option: flash-boil your unprocessed dairy or pasteurize it at home, where you can control how long it’s heated and to what temperature.
Myth: Dairy Farming Is Bad for the Environment
We’re advocates for sustainable and regenerative farming practices. So we can’t avoid this myth. Yes, conventional farming methods + the processing of milk certainly create a lot of environmental damage. Between methane emitted from cows fed a grain diet and the machinery required for processing milk, no doubt it harms the environment. Not to mention the burden on the soil when the plot of land is used to farm a single species indefinitely.
But raw dairy products, by default, are far better for the environment because the product remains in its natural form. In regenerative farming, rotating animals through the pastures improves soil quality and sequesters more carbon. And since it isn’t processed, far less machinery (aka emissions) is involved.
While there may not be specific studies to correlate with this yet, it's easy to see the connection. There's a clear reason to conclude raw dairy products from regeneratively raised cows are safer for the environment.
MYTH: Dairy Is Causing All Your Skin Issues
Dairy itself isn't causing your skin issues – though added hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides found in conventional dairy could definitely contribute. But there are other factors that can induce inflammation in the skin such as:
→ An unbalanced diet
→ Too many legumes
→ Lack of sleep
→ Drinking alternative “milks”
When it comes down to it, acne is a much bigger problem than just what you see on your skin. It’s inflammation in the body.
The industry is packed with confusing information when it comes to dairy. It feels overwhelming to absorb all the information and make an informed decision. So all this may have you thinking – “Okay, but what if I have a true dairy allergy? What about plant-based milks?”
Why Plant-Based Milks Aren’t Helping
Before we go any further, it feels necessary to address these burning questions:
→ Why can’t I just choose plant-based alternatives instead?
→ Aren’t plant-based milks the safer option overall, especially if I have an allergy/sensitivity to dairy?
The answer might shock you – but plant-based milks can be more overwhelming to your body. They’re not doing you any favors.
Classic greenwashing methods convince you that plant-based milks are best.
→ Yep, they use fear tactics about dairy to sell you their products.
But here’s the real truth about plant milks:
- Most plant milks contain seed oils, synthetic vitamins and flavorings, + fillers like carrageenan and guar gum.
Synthetic vitamins are never as good as natural, untouched vitamins in their purest form. And artificial flavoring is similar to the “fragrance” debate in beauty. “Natural flavoring” lets companies hide long lists of toxic ingredients within their products.
- Overconsuming nuts and seeds instead of dairy products does more harm than good.
An excess of nuts and seeds is difficult for the body to digest, + they’re hard on the liver. They also contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid that irritate the gut and bind to precious vitamins and minerals in the body, contributing to nutrient deficiencies.
Okay, so if plant-based milks aren’t the answer, why is raw dairy your best bet – besides what you already know? Buckle in because raw dairy packs a punch with its benefits.
Benefits of Raw Dairy
Similar to consuming liver, raw dairy is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world.
Here are the benefits you need to know about consuming raw dairy:
- Helps your body break down lactose in the milk. Lactase is still present to assist with digestion.
- Rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals.
- Contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) + essential fatty acids.5
* Remember how those same nutrients are in tallow? Something to be said for the impact on skin health. ;)
- Supports skin health. Internal nutrition is important to support your skin from the inside out – raw milk can be a key player. Due to a plethora of healthy fats, some people even claim using it is a miracle worker when applied directly on the skin.6
- Rich in protein needed for balanced blood sugar and energy.
- Contains probiotics that help balance gut health. With the gut being related to the state of your skin, this is great news. ;)
- Biocompatible with your body. It’s a “whole food,” so it contains all the activators to digest + utilize the vitamins easily.
- Boosts your immune system. Similar to breast milk and babies, unprocessed milk is shown to help strengthen the immune system, even against allergies.7
- Helps resolve a dairy allergy. Since your allergy is actually to pasteurized (stripped) milk, raw dairy with lactase can help your body “re-learn” how to process dairy.
- Can improve skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
- Provides three key minerals many people are deficient in: magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These are vital for cellular function, hydration, bone density, blood circulation, detoxification, muscle health, + metabolism.4
- Helps balance hormones with fat-soluble vitamins.8 As we know, hormone health is critical for skin health to thrive.
To us, it’s a no-brainer: raw dairy is an excellent addition to your dietary staples. Just as we believe whole-body health is connected to skin health – when one system is cared for, all systems benefit.
Take care of your body + your skin through unprocessed + nutrient-dense dairy products.
Raw Dairy: Your New Hero?
Sadly, most of us aren’t taught that raw dairy can be so beneficial for our health – and even our skin. So don’t feel shame if this is the first time you’ve heard this. We’re set on changing the narrative that dairy is inherently bad for you.
After all, like most things in life, it’s all about context. ;)
Have you tried raw dairy products? What are your thoughts or experience?
- National Library of Medicine | Nonpasteurized Dairy Products, Disease Outbreaks, and State Laws-United States, 1993-2006
- A Campaign for Real Milk: A Project of the Weston A. Price Foundation | The John Hopkins Raw Milk Study
- National Library of Medicine | Randomised Controlled Trial of Effect of Raw and Holder Pasteurised Human Milk and of Formula Supplements on Incidence of Neonatal Infection
- Dr. Axe | Raw Milk Benefits Skin, Allergies and Immunity
- Chris Kresser | Raw Milk Reality: Benefits of Raw Milk
- National Library of Medicine | Increased Concentrations of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Milk and Platelet Rich Plasma of Grass-Fed Cows’
- National Library of Medicine | A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Pasteurization on Milk Vitamins, and Evidence for Raw Milk Consumption and Other Health-Related Outcomes
- Dr. Becky Campbell Functional Medicine | Conventional Dairy vs. Raw Dairy
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