(reposted from my old blog- and yes, I did drink raw milk while pregnant!)
I’m a really big fan of raw dairy and believe that all dairy should be eaten raw, meaning that it hasn’t undergone pasteurization which negatively effects the quality of the proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals as well as kills the enzymes in milk that make it easier to digest. Pasteurization kills all bacteria, the good and the bad, which means that it robs milk of the nutrition benefits of the bacteria (probiotics) it naturally contains. Pasteurization is necessary to clean and extend the shelf life of “dirty” milk whereas raw milk must be sourced from farms with impeccable sanitary conditions. Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures is quoted on the Eat Naked Now blog saying “Pasteurization does not create clean milk; it just kills filthy milk”. I recommend reading Margaret’s post on why she drinks raw, grass-fed, whole milk (whole is important because the vitamins- A and D- that help you absorb the calcium are found in the fat), even while pregnant.
We’ve all heard that pregnant women shouldn’t have anything unpasteurized so as I near this stage in my life I wanted to learn more. I am reading Sally Fallon Morrell and Thomas S. Cowan’s book called “The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care” and I wanted to share some very interesting things I learned about why raw milk isn’t dangerous to have while pregnant and why it’s actually very important for expecting mothers (I would like to note that I don’t agree with everything in this book but do respect the nutrition info). The authors of this book strongly advocate drinking raw milk from grass-fed cows because it provides calcium, fat-soluble vitamins, and CLA. It even helps with morning sickness! They explain that the dangers have been exaggerated and one is less likely to get sick from raw milk than from other foods.
All food can cause illness if not handled properly but raw milk actually contains beneficial bacteria that destroys pathogens, all while strengthening the immune system. On page twenty of the book, the authors explain that given the statics of food born illness from 1999 to 2010, “…the rate of illness from raw milk is about .00044%…” and “…one is at least 35 000 times more likely to contract illness from other foods than from raw milk”. As they say, “…hardly a basis for calling milk ‘inherently dangerous’”. They also note that for many years there have been no deaths from raw milk, while there have been deaths attributed to everything from cantaloupe, to spinach, to peanuts, to oysters.
On his website, Chris Kresser gives an great analysis of the food-borne illness data and says that there has “”…only been a handful of deaths from pasteurized dairy products in the last decade, and there hasn’t been a single death attributed to raw fluid milk since the mid-1980s, in spite of the fact that almost 10 million people are now consuming it regularly.”Okay, but that’s death….what about illness? He states that according to a 2008 CSPI report, that after adjusting for consumption, “Beef caused 11 times more illnesses than dairy…Pork caused 8 times more illnesses than dairy…Produce caused 4 times more more illnesses than dairy”. His take away message, “…when it comes to foodborne illness, dairy should be the least of your concerns.”
People are fearful of pregnant women drinking raw milk because of the assumed risk of contracting infection from Listeria monocytogenes, a food-borne illness that can cause premature birth or even fetal death. Scary stuff! However, on page twenty-one of The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care, the authors point to a 2003 USDA/FDA report that indicates there are “…twenty-nine times more illness from Listeria monocytogenes due to pasteurized milk” than compared to raw milk. Furthermore, from 1993-2005 the Centers for Disease Control lists zero cases of Listeria causing food poisoning from raw milk. Please note that raw soft cheese should be avoided while pregnant as this does pose a risk of Listeria infection.
I highly recommend reading “The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care” which recommends drinking a quart of raw milk a day while pregnant- I know I will!