Milk Debate: Is non-homogonized really any better for you?

My great uncle was an OBGYN and he always said that the homogenization of milk was one of the worst “advances” in science. He said the body was meant to process the small and large milk particles at different rates, and that homogenized milk had particles all the same size which meant the digestive system had to process them all at the same time. Or so it was explained to me.

To homogenize or not to homogenize?

To homogenize or not to homogenize?

Keep in mind that homogenization (making all the milk particles the same size so there is no separation) is not the same as pasteurization (heating milk in order to kill bacteria). Raw milk is non-homogenized and unpasteurized, where as non-homogenized milk has been pasteurized.

When I noticed they sell non-homogenized “Cream on Top” milk at our Trader Joe’s, I decided to give it a try on Franci in place of the more expensive Goat Milk. As Frances got a little older, I gave her homogenized milk and didn’t notice any difference in her digestion. What I did notice was a big difference in taste. I don’t drink a ton of milk myself, but I do put it in my coffee and on cereal. It could just be the fact that the non-homogenized milk is small batch and organic, but it is delicious!

It is also more expensive than homogenized organic milk. I decided it was time to do a little research and find out if I’m just paying for the delicious taste, or if it really is easier to digest.

During one double-blind test, there was no difference between symptoms when the testers drank homogenized versus non-homogenized milk. Of course, there were only 44 people in the study. I couldn’t find any better tests to report.

The homogenization process breaks the protective membrane made of proteins and other immune factors around the milk particles. Some studies suggest that this membrane has it’s own health benefits.

Other studies prove that homogenized milk is easier to digest. As much as I searched, I wasn’t able to track down these studies, despite them being referenced from time to time. There is a pretty good debate presented at ProCon.org for further reading

Since research suggests that the digestive properties of both milks are equivalent, are there reasons to choosing non-homogenized? If you are trying to eat “closer to nature”, yes. If you are not willing to risk raw (unpasteurized) milk but want milk that has gone through less processing, yes. If you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, stay away from both! If you’re like me, and prefer the taste, yes. Otherwise save yourself the extra dollar (or trip to the speciality market) and stick with organic milk.

Do you splurge on non-homogenized milk?

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