My friend and milking partner Hanna wondered out loud to me today about the safety of drinking raw milk during pregnancy. So, she sparked my interest and I found a few more reasons I am glad to own a lovely source of raw milk (aka, Clara). I AM NOT PREGNANT, but I will probably be some day.
Anyway, from the Weston Price Foundation:
Modern Baby Books:Full of Bad Advice
By Lisa Bianco-Davis
Walk down the "Baby & Childbirth" section of any bookstore or library and you will be faced with a bewildering array of books aimed at the pregnant woman. These books are written by doctors, obstetricians, midwives, mothers. . . and others. Unfortunately none of the authors appears to have read the work of Weston A. Price.
My husband and I are expecting our first child later this year. Being a first-time mom who is familiar with the work of Dr. Price, I was naturally curious to see what the pregnancy books had to say on the matter of nutrition. So I went to our local library and checked out an armload of books. I was surprised, not by the variety of the advice between the different books, but by the consistency of the message. Many of the pregnancy books included the USDA food pyramid, and parroted government recommendations. And while some of their advice is useful, much of it is misleading or just plain wrong.
When Weston Price studied healthy traditional societies, he found that they placed a strong emphasis on the nutrition of couples prior to pregnancy and of women during pregnancy and lactation. The foods these societies considered absolutely essential for producing healthy children were seafood (fish and shellfish, fish organs, fish liver oils and fish eggs), organ meats, insects, animal fats, egg yolks, whole milk, cheese and butter from cows eating green grass. When studied in the laboratory, Price found these foods to be high in minerals and vitamins, particularly the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D and K2 (Price's "Activator X"). He determined that these traditional diets provided ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins compared to the American diet of the 1930s.
Let’s look at the modern pregnancy books’ recommendations regarding these foods that were considered essential to traditional societies.
WHOLE MILK, CHEESE AND BUTTER
Nearly every modern pregnancy book I looked at recommended consuming milk and dairy products to ensure an adequate calcium supply. However, not one of the authors points out the fact that calcium from typical store-bought pasteurized milk is poorly absorbed. Nor do they mention the fact that too little phosphorus also inhibits calcium absorption, but the complete destruction of the enzyme phosphotase (needed to assimilate phosphorus) is the standard test for the pasteurization of milk. But instead of recommending raw milk--Nature’s perfect food--they all warn against it! "Drink and eat only pasteurized milk products, and avoid all soft cheeses such as brie, Camembert, Roquefort, feta, and Mexican varieties. These cheeses, as well as unpasteurized milk and raw foods made from it, can give you a form of food poisoning called listeriosis."3
"Pregnant women should completely avoid . . . raw (unpasteurized) milk or foods that contain unpasteurized milk."4
Actually, raw milk is safer than pasteurized milk. Raw milk from healthy, pasture-fed cows has been a staple in many cultures for centuries, and has contributed to fabulous health, not caused disease.
Most of the books recommended using skim milk, reduced-fat cheese, and avoiding butter, in a misguided attempt to keep women from gaining too much weight or to restrict saturated fat and cholesterol--oblivious to the fact that cholesterol and saturated fat are needed for brain development. "Opt for lower-fat versions of the dairy foods that offer such great nutrition benefits: low-fat or nonfat yogurt and milk, nonfat cream cheese and sour cream, reduced-fat cheeses (search out those that are 50% fat reduced)."6
"Because they are an animal source, dairy foods can also contribute to saturated fat and cholesterol intake, so choosing lower-fat or fat-free versions of these foods can help keep your levels down." They claim that "Skim milk has all the important nutrients in the same quantity as low-fat or whole milk."4 But skim milk has none of the fat-soluble vitamins in milk fat that Weston Price found to be so important to maintaining superb health.
A few of the books noted that some people do not digest lactose (milk sugar) in milk well, so they recommend getting calcium from soybeans, tofu, nuts, seeds, broccoli, dark leafy greens, soymilk and fortified orange juice. These authors do not understand that consuming milk in its natural raw state and/or fermented allows many of these so-called "lactose intolerant" people to digest dairy products. They also fail to mention rich bone broths, another excellent source of calcium and other minerals used by many cultures that do not drink milk.
One book, when discussing feeding children, advised against all milk, saying, "Children do not need whole milk. They do not need that for the developing brain. That myth is old, was never true and has been discredited."7 I can see how someone could come to that conclusion. It would seem like an old myth to read that even as late as the 1920s doctors were recommending milk for the treatment of many diseases, and that milk has been viewed as a healthful food far back into antiquity. But at the same time you can find studies in the late 20th century that have linked milk consumption to asthma, frequent ear infections, diabetes and a host of other illnesses. It would seem logical to conclude that milk was never a healthy food, but this conclusion would overlook several important changes that happened to the production of milk during that time frame.
The first important change took place in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when people in cities began confining cows into concentrated feedlots, and feeding them cheap waste material instead of allowing them to graze on green pastures. This led to illness in the cows, and in the people who drank their milk. The second important change was instituted in order to combat the disastrous health effects of these confinement dairies. Around 1910 most American cities required pasteurization and by 1950 most milk was pasteurized. These changes, coupled with homogenization, have changed milk from a health-giving food into a disease-producing substance.
In contrast, Dr. Price found several cultures that relied heavily on the whole raw milk from cows grazing on green pastures. The mountain Swiss and the Masai are prime examples of healthy primitive cultures that depended on the nutritive value of whole raw milk products. Weston Price observed traditional people going to great lengths to obtain foods high in fat-soluble vitamins for pregnant women. "Among the primitive Masai in certain districts of Africa," Dr. Price wrote, "the girls were required to wait for marriage until the time of the year when the cows were on the rapidly growing young grass and to use the milk from these cows for a certain number of months before they could be married." In the Swiss Alps, the butter from cows eating rapidly growing green grass was a sacred food, considered very important for pregnant women. When cows eat rapidly growing green grass, the butterfat they produce contains the highest levels of vitamin A, D and K2 (Activator X), all important catalysts for growth and nutrient assimilation. Traditional societies always consumed their milk, cheese and butter raw and often cultured them, and they valued the bright yellow butter from grass-fed animals.
Some of the other nutritional topics the pregnancy books covered were the basic food categories, vitamin supplements and the subject of vegetarian diets.http://www.honesthuman.com/?p=165. For more pregnancy diet advice, go here.
And, from honesthuman.com:
A reader posted a question at the end of the most recent raw milk post about whether it was okay for pregnant women to drink raw milk. Raw dairy products (including cheeses) are on the “don’t” list for expectant mothers because of fear of bacteria. I have long suspected that this was hogwash, and everything in my self-education refutes the entire philosophy behind it.
If I were planning to become pregnant, the first thing I would do is toss out almost many of the current baby/mommy books, because most of them are chuck full of bad advice. This article on the Weston A. Price Foundation’s site articulates some of the ways pregnant women get bad advice on the diet question, and it has a section on raw milk during pregnancy.
We are nothing but a sea of micro-organisms. Bacteria are not our enemies. Without them we would literally die. (I’m going to post more about this soon, it’s just a particularly time-consuming subject.) And pasteurized milk is hardly free of such “germs” anyway. From what I’ve read, milk is not tested after pasteurization to make sure all the allegedly harmful bacteria are destroyed. They simply test to make sure that the healthy enzyme phosphatase has been destroyed (which helps you digest the milk), and then they assume that the “harmful” bacteria are destroyed. Perhaps that’s why all these people died after drinking pasteurized milk. These stats are from a local Weston A. Price chapter:
* 1997, 28 persons ill from Salmonella in California, ALL FROM PASTEURIZED MILK.
* 1996, 46 persons ill from Campylobacter & Salmonella in California. FROM PASTEURIZED MILK.
* 1994, 105 persons ill from E. coil and Listeria in California FROM PASTEURIZED MILK.
* March of 1985 19,660 confirmed cases of Salmonella typhimurium illness FROM CONSUMING PROPERLY PASTEURIZED MILK. Over 200,000 people ill from Salmonella typhimurium in PASTEURIZED MILK
* 1985, 142 cases and 47 deaths traced to PASTEURIZED Mexican-style cheese contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes SURVIVES PASTEURIZATION!
* 1985, 1500 persons ill from Salmonella infection
* August of 1984 approximately 200 persons became ill with a Salmonella typhimurium from CONSUMING PASTEURIZED MILK
* November of 1984, another outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium illness from CONSUMING PASTEURIZED MILK
* 1983, over 49 persons with Listeria illness have been associated with the consumption of PASTEURIZED MILK in Massachusetts.
*1993, 28 persons ill from Salmonella infection
*1982, 172 persons ill (100 hospitalized) from a three Southern state area from PASTEURIZED MILK.
*1982, over 17,000 persons became ill with Yersinia enterocolitica from PASTEURIZED MILK bottled in Memphis, Tennessee.
Now, I don’t think the bacteria “caused” their deaths any more than mosquitoes “cause” West Nile Virus. People get sick when their bodies are worn down, when their immune systems can’t take being overworked and under-supported anymore and when they are susceptible. Period. And those principles don’t change just because we are pregnant.
In fact, I think it’s more important to drink raw milk and yogurts during pregnancy than at any other time because the unadulterated probiotics actually prepare the vaginal wall for delivery. A healthy woman with a healthy level of beneficial bacteria in her birth canal actually gives the baby beneficial bacteria during birth to help fight infection in the first few days outside the womb. (I’ll post links/articles about how eating fermented foods can also assist in this process when I find them in my stacks.)
Sorry her links don't work here, if you are interested go here.
So, drink up Hanna! And Pamela. And Kara. And anyone else who is with child along with Clara.