Raw Milk: Jackpot or Russian Roulette?

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Raw milk has received much attention for its supposed health benefits, but should you drink raw milk when weighing up the milk’s pros and cons?

To start, what are the benefits of raw milk?

One major benefits of raw milk is its effect on people’s blood pressure. Raw milk has an excess volume of proteins within it. This results in minerals being absorbed better while also helping the body to control blood pressure, keeping it at quite a healthy level for the human body.

Furthermore, raw milk is well known to be great for strengthening your gut bacteria and therefore your digestive system. This is since raw milk is very rich in healthy bacteria, making it a superb probiotic drink for people to use daily. In addition to this, raw milk has many different enzymes to help the body digest nutrients from various foods.

Raw milk is also highly concentrated in natural vitamins like vitamin A, K and E. These vitamins are both soluble and natural, and are present within the fat in raw milk. Pasteurised milk usually destroys water-soluble vitamins e.g. C and B complex, but raw milk stores these vitamins inside it as it has not been pasteurised.

Often ads for yoghurts and milk, show milk to be great for your bones and teeth. This is true, even for pasteurised milk, but raw milk contains much more calcium than pasteurised milk, the element which is so useful in humans for making stronger and healthier bones and teeth. On top of this, the calcium in raw milk is much more easily absorbed by the body than the calcium in pasteurised milk.

The final benefit of raw milk is its use for skincare. Raw milk has properties making it a brilliant skin toner and moisturiser. It makes skin soft to the touch and when used regularly, results in the skin glowing.1

However, there are also many disadvantages to drinking raw milk, chiefly safety. It is not often known that while inside the animal, raw milk is sterile due to the cleanliness within the animal’s body. Despite this, once the milk is extracted from the animal, contamination is highly likely due to the unclean methods of storing milk, and the risky and unsafe handling of milk when taken from the animal.

Although this is true, it is hard to see contaminations in the milk, as they are not visible to the naked eye until the growth of the contamination is massive. This means that contaminations in raw milk can be dangerously taken into the human body when drunk, even though the contamination is not significant in size. For example, raw milk can usually contain up to eight different harmful bacteria, like E.coli. Infections from these bacteria are most likely to result in vomiting, diarrhoea as well as other symptoms.

Anyone who drinks contaminated raw milk is indeed susceptible to disease from the pathogens involved. But there is a difference in who is most at risk from these pathogens. For example, pregnant women, the elderly, children and those with weaker immune systems are most likely to contract a disease from the pathogens sometimes present in raw milk. Concerning the risk to children from the pathogens present at times in raw milk, more than 50% of all disease outbreaks from raw milk include at least one child lower than the age of five.

Using statistics we can see how risky raw milk has been for people in the past. Probably the biggest statistic of the bunch is that those who are infected through the drinking of raw milk are 13 times more likely to require hospitalisation. This puts an extra unwanted burden on health services, a burden which could have easily not occurred if people who drink unsafe raw milk just drank pasteurised milk instead.2

Weighing up the options, it is hard to say no to the benefits of raw milk and hard to say yes due to the risk involved with it. However, I would say that there is a solution for those who want to drink raw milk, but want to be safe at the same time. Raw milk is only exposed to contamination after released from the animal in question. It is best to check the storing and cleaning standards of the companies who sell raw milk because there are good companies who deliver safe raw milk, but you have to search and check them out, before committing to drinking their products. By doing this, you can drink and use raw milk which has countless benefits while staying safe yourself. Even if you are too scared to drink raw milk, using raw milk as part of your skincare routine is very safe and you do not need to check the cleaning practices of raw milk companies as much. To conclude, raw milk is a good product to drink and use but you should be careful who you buy from to prevent contracting dangerous diseases.


References

  1. Bird, E., 2020. Raw Milk May Harbor Antibiotic Resistant Germs. [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/raw-milk-may-harbor-antibiotic-resistant-germs> [Accessed 11 July 2020].
  2. Simmonds, C., 2017. Raw Milk: A Superfood Or Super Risky?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/30/raw-milk-health-superfood-safety-goop> [Accessed 11 July 2020].

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