Did you know that humans are the only species on earth who consume milk after infancy, let alone from the mother of another species?
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop consuming dairy products altogether, but it does shed light on dairy’s place in the human diet and how you can make sure you’re getting the best of the options out there. Cow's milk products are commonplace, but what about goat's milk? Is it better for us?
Contrary to popular belief, research proves that dairy consumption is associated with a higher risk for osteoporosis. According to research highlighted in The China Study, "In one study of ten countries a higher consumption of calcium was associated with a higher -- not lower -- risk of bone fracture. Much of the calcium intake [...] is due to dairy foods, rather than calcium supplements or non-dairy food sources of calcium." This sheds light on many of the food industry’s campaigns that promote milk consumption. What are their true intentions? To top it off, most dairy cows live in inhumane conditions and are fed lousy food.
But, if you love dairy products and don’t want to live without them, this is where the compromise comes into play. In short, when it comes to dairy, opt for goat (or even sheep) milk products, and preferably those that are raw.
Goat’s milk is easier for humans to digest than cow’s milk. The fat globules in cow’s milk are much larger than those in goat milk, which make it more difficult to digest. Casein, a protein allergen with negative health implications found in dairy products, is about 89 percent less prevalent in goat’s milk than in cow’s milk. This protein is also part of bulking up the calf. Take a look at a cow -- she's huge! A calf has to increase her size substantially in a short period of time through the consumption of mother's milk. The casein in cow milk is thus a bigger burden on the body than that of goat’s milk.
Many people also suffer from lactose intolerance, and goat’s milk contains far less lactose than cow’s milk, making it much easier to digest. A study comparing the effects of the two sources of milk came to the conclusion that goat’s milk was more beneficial to health than cow’s milk due to its ability to prevent bone demineralization and diseases such as anemia.
While pasteurized versions of goat’s milk are perfectly fine for all intents and purposes, their raw versions are superior. During pasteurization, many of the healthy bacteria, enzymes, vitamins and proteins are depleted. This makes the product harder to digest, and you lose the beneficial nutrients. Raw milk is unpasteurized and retains healthy bacteria, enzymes and vitamins.
It can be difficult to find raw milk, and in some places it's illegal, since there are some bacterial risks involved, but raw goat cheeses are readily available and delicious! And as always, try your best to make sure the source of your dairy is hormone-free, organic, and as humane as possible. And don't forget about the wide array of non-dairy sources of calcium out there, too.