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by Ron Schmid, N.D.
Not everyone agrees that milk should be part of the human diet after infancy. The argument is made that just as all other species drink no milk after weaning, neither should we, especially that of another species. Many adults have difficulty digesting pasteurized milk, and allergies to pasteurized milk products are common. While this lends credence to arguments against milk, such reactions are usually due to pasteurization itself and the poor quality of conventionally produced milk and milk products. While for some individuals genetic influences play a role, for most the body's reaction to milk depends largely upon the quality and state of the particular milk used.
The Swiss of the Loetschental Valley were one of the few native groups Weston Price studied that used milk (the others were certain African tribes, including the Masai). The Valley people used raw, whole milk, both fresh and cultured, cheese, and butter, all in substantial quantities. The milk was from healthy, grass-fed animals and was used unpasteurized and unhomogenized. Such foods clearly can play a major role in a health-building program for the individual genetically enabled to utilize these foods well. They are a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins A and D and other crucial nutrients in short supply in diets lacking in high quality animal fats. (Contrary to popular opinion, liberal amounts of animal fats, particularly from grass-fed animals, are essential for good health and resistance to disease.)
Yet we could attain optimal health without dairy foods. Price discovered groups with complete resistance to dental decay and chronic disease using no dairy foods; their diets invariably included other rich sources of animal fats, calcium, and other minerals. The soft ends of long bones were commonly chewed, and the shafts and other bones were used in soups.
Modern medicine has discovered the importance of a substantial intake of calcium. Several recent studies have linked high blood pressure and other problems with chronic subclinical calcium deficiency, including increased incidence of colon and prostate cancers in men and osteoporosis and osteoarthritis in both men and women. Paradoxically, other problems are associated with high consumption of dairy foods; this has not gone unnoticed by researchers, nutritionists, and nutrition minded physicians. The importance of the quality and freshness of milk products lies behind the paradox. This concept has not been considered in attempts by today's medical community to explain the health effects of dairy foods.
Domesticated animals were first used for milk eight to ten thousand years
ago, as a genetic change effecting mostly people in Europe, the Middle
parts of Africa enabled them to digest milk as adults. Milk from domesticated
animals then began to become important as a human food. With domestication
and settlement, fewer wild animals were available; as groups of people
roamed less, they hunted less, eating more grains and vegetables. In
milk replaced animal bones as the chief source of calcium and some
Adaptations in evolution are always the effects of particular causes. Humans developing the ability to digest milk into adulthood possessed a survival advantage; such change is the basis of evolution. Put simply, many human beings evolved the ability to easily digest raw milk because raw milk from healthy, grass-fed animals gave them an adaptive advantage; it made them stronger and more able to reproduce. Such milk remains a wonderful food that provides us with fat-soluble nutrients, calcium, and other minerals that are by and large in short supply in the modern diet.
Read the full article "The Health Benefits of Raw Milk from Grass Fed Animals" by Dr Ron Schmid on his web site: http://www.drrons.com/
Used with permission from Dr Ron Schmid
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, a publication of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Dr. Ron Schmid has practiced as a licensed naturopathic physician in
Connecticut since graduating from the National College of Naturopathic
Medicine in 1981. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
as well, he has taught courses and seminars in nutrition at all four of
the accredited naturopathic medical schools in the United States. He served
for a year as the first Clinic Director and Chief Medical Officer at the
University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. He is a member
of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Connecticut
Society of Naturopathic Physicians, and is on the Honorary Board of the
Weston A. Price Foundation. He is also the manufacturer of 100% pure, additive
free nutritional supplements. Dr. Schmid is the author of Traditional Foods
Are Your Best Medicine, first published in 1986.