I drink raw milk. Even better: I drink full fat raw milk.
This post has been on my ‘to-write’ list for a long time. But now, pregnant, drinking about a quart of the stuff a day, it seems more pertinent than ever.
But isn’t that dangerous? you ask. What about all those dreaded pathogens? The e-coli? The listeria? Aren’t you putting you and your baby at unnecessary risk?
Not at all.
I drink raw milk even (especially) when I’m pregnant. Contrary to most of the pregnancy nutrition advice out there, I believe raw milk is a vital part of the pregnant woman’s diet. And if you like and can tolerate milk (ie, you don’t have an allergy), then I believe raw is the only way to go, pregnant or not.
1) Full-fat raw milk is a perfect, whole, naked food
Raw milk is a complete source of amino acids, good carbohydrates, and important nutrients such as calcium and vitamins A, C and D. Your body needs the fats in it to properly use and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A and D. And it has the phosphate your body needs to digest the calcium, something that’s completely destroyed by pasteurization. There’s nothing synthetic or fortified here. This is a truly naked, nutrient-dense food.
2) Raw milk is an enzyme-rich living food
You might not think of milk as ‘living’, but when it’s raw, it is. It’s rich with enzymes, the most notable of which is the enzyme lactase that helps your body digest the lactose so many people struggle with. Raw milk digests itself and for many, it doesn’t present the digestive problems associated with pasteurized milk.
3) Raw milk comes with its own defense system
One of the biggest criticisms and fears about raw milk is that it’s dangerous because we haven’t killed all the bad bacteria in there. Unfortunately, when we kill the bad stuff, we kill the good stuff – pasteurization doesn’t just target the things we don’t want.
This good stuff – beneficial bacteria (those great probiotics we’re all trying to get more of in our diet) – acts as a defense against any pathogenic bacteria introduced into the milk. Yes, that means raw milk comes with its own defense mechanism – a mechanism completely destroyed by pasteurization.
If you’re going to drink raw milk, then knowing the diet and living conditions of the animals it came from is crucial. This is the reason the FDA and big dairy companies don’t want you to know that clean raw milk is actually safe – it requires healthy animals and sanitary dairies. I don’t know about you, but clean milk from healthy animals is the only milk I want to drink.
Hmm… so that means pasteurized milk comes from unhealthy animals and unsanitary dairies? Bingo! As one of my favorite raw-milk advocates, Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures, says, “Pasteurization does not create clean milk; it just kills filthy milk.” Yummy.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not drink raw milk from conventional confinement dairies or dairies producing milk intended for pasteurization. This milk is definitely not fit for consumption unpasteurized and can easily make you sick.
 McAfee, M. 2010. The fifteen things that pasteurization kills. Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts 11(2):82-86
5) When I’m pregnant, my body craves it
I’m a big believer in listening closely to what my body’s asking for, and listening “underneath the cravings” as I’ve described in other posts.
When it comes to being pregnant, as anyone who’s gone through this amazing experience can attest, your body gets very clear on what it does and doesn’t want. In my first trimester many of my favorite foods (healthy and not) were suddenly completely unacceptable to my body. One of the few exceptions was raw milk.
My body has asked for some weird things over these few months, but its one consistent desire has been for raw milk. Reading through pregnancy guidelines I know and trust from both the Weston A Price Foundation and Nina Planck in her book Real Food for Mother and Baby, raw milk is an excellent, nutrient-rich food for an expecting mother.
Want to learn more?
Here’s a link to an easy-to-understand chart comparing the difference between conventional milk, organic milk, and certified raw milk.
If you’d like to find raw milk in your area, start at The Campaign for Real Milk’s website. If you’re not able to find a reputable local source there, then contact your local Weston A Price Foundation chapter and ask for their recommendations.
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