One question people ask us a lot revolves around probiotic foods — we’re looking at you fermented foods! — and if they can really make a meaningful difference to their gut health. A growing number of people are moving away from pasteurized milk in favor of raw milk as a “healthier” means to achieve those very same probiotic food benefits.
But is raw milk a safe and healthy probiotic food?
The Raw Milk Controversy
Raw milk has a controversial history in America. People who sell it claim the process of pasteurization strips milk of its many health benefits, yet it’s illegal to sell or buy it in 19 states.
The Raw Milk Institute features an attention-grabbing claim on its website that states, “the protective effects of raw cow’s milk on infections were comparable to those of breastfeeding.”
On the other hand, the FDA devotes an entire page on its website to the misconceptions and dangers of drinking raw milk, citing studies that debunk its use in treating asthma and allergies, lactose intolerance and osteoporosis or that it is safe or good for your gut.
What’s the Real Story?
After studying more than 2,000 retail samples of raw and pasteurized milk from five states, researchers at the University of California, Davis discovered two very alarming things about the microbial properties of raw milk in a report featured in Microbiome.
First, scientists did not find large quantities of beneficial bacteria in raw milk samples.
Second, leaving raw milk out at room temperature to ferment (to make what’s known as a yogurt-like food called clabber) created the opportunity for the growth of many more antimicrobial-resistant genes than those found in pasteurized milk.
What’s more, bacteria with those antimicrobial-resistant genes have the potential to become superbugs if they’re passed on to a pathogen, which means you could get sick and discover that drug you rely on to get well may not work.
So, the take-home message here is pretty simple: Eat probiotic foods only in moderation and only if they’re safe.
A very dependable and easy way to get all of the beneficial bacteria your gut needs to keep your immune system healthy and strong is to take a daily probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.