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Raw Milk Is The Real Thing
By Dr. Renae Norton

All milk starts off raw. In fact, milk was raw for about a million years and then we suddenly (in relative terms) decided that we needed to cook it before we could drink it. Big mistake. 

I’m exaggerating. Actually, the first Aurochs (cattle which are now extinct) were milked 6,000 to 8,000 years ago in different parts of the world.  It’s likely that European farmers were the first humans to actually drink milk and we have been doing it consistently ever since. The point being that milk was “safe” to drink for thousands of years until it wasn’t, beginning around the late 1800’s. 

Enter Pasteurization

In 1856, Louis Pasteur discovered that heating up wine to a specific temperature for a specific time would kill harmful microbes while preserving the wine. He patented the procedure and called it “pasteurization”.  This procedure was then rediscovered by the dairy industry in the late 1800s. It caught on because tuberculosis was rampant around the turn of the century and thought to be spread through contaminated milk. 

Once scientists realized that a low-temperature/long-time heating of the milk (also called batch pasteurization) could kill the TB bacterium, governments pushed to enforce this practice. The current version, or high-temperature/short-time (HTST) process that we have today is known as “ultra-pasteurization”. 

We know much more today about the spread of disease and infection, and more importantly, how to prevent it when it comes to food production. So it is no longer necessary to pasteurize milk, but we still do.  As a result, we lose the incredible benefits raw milk has to offer. 

Raw milk that is not pasteurized (heated) or homogenized (crushed) is whole.  But not just whole, it is actually a living thing full of probiotic bacteria. You know all those probiotics you are taking to help your gut? That’s because you are either not drinking milk or because you are drinking milk that no longer has probiotics in it because it is pasteurized. The probiotics die when the incredibly wholesome raw milk is heated to protect us from infections that we are immunized against or that we have figured out how to prevent. Sigh.

Let’s see what we are missing:

  • Raw Milk Is Packed With Nutrients

Raw milk closely resembles breast milk, which means that like breast milk, it has such an abundant nutritional profile that no other food is needed. That is saying something.

Check this out:

Just one cup (244 grams) of whole cow’s raw milk contains:

  • Calories: 150
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Calcium: 30% of the RDA
  • Vitamin A: 6% of the RDA
  • Iron: 6% of the RDA
  • Cholesterol: 10% of the RDA
  • Sugars: 12 grams (no added sugar)

Raw milk is an excellent source of easy to digest (bioavailable) vitamins and minerals, including those that are “under-consumed” by many people in the U.S..  For example, raw milk is a good source of vitamin A, magnesium, zinc, and thiamine (B1). It also has many beneficial antioxidants, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene, which help reduce inflammation and fight oxidative stress. Of course, it is an excellent source of protein and contains hundreds of different healthy fatty acids, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3s. You have heard me talk (I know endlessly) about conjugated linoleic acid.  But it is so important, as it is a major factor in building muscle.  

Conventional milk (grain-fed cows raised in CAFO’s) on the other hand, is very low in CLA.  Not only does it not lend itself to muscle, if you drink more than a few cups, it is actually fattening just like grain-fed beef is fattening compared to grass-fed beef.  This is by design.  The beef industry wants the cows to go to market at the earliest possible date and they want the cows to be as fat as possible.  So they force feed grain which does the trick.  But that’s not all. The cows get fat even faster because they are so diseased that they must be given antibiotics regularly.  But that’s ok, because that also helps to fatten them up.  Yup, antibiotics are fattening. Guess what? The cows eat the grain, get the shots to fight infection, and get fat.  Then we eat the cows and become resistant to antibiotics and get FAT. Such a deal!

  • Help for Bones and Teeth

Drinking milk has always been associated with healthy bones and teeth.  It makes perfect sense when you consider that raw milk provides us with an impressive combination of the nutrients we need for maintaining strong healthy bones and teeth.  We get 30% of the calcium we need each day from 1 cup of milk and approximately 99% of that is stored in our bones and teeth.  In addition, adding milk and dairy products to your diet may actually prevent bone diseases like osteoporosis, especially in older adults.

  • Protein Doesn’t Get Better Than This

Raw milk is a rich source of raw protein, coming in at a whopping 8 grams per serving. Not only is there a lot of it, it is considered a “complete protein” meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for your body to function at an optimal level. That is incredible. But it gets better.

There are two main types of protein found in raw milk — casein and whey protein. Both are considered high-quality proteins. Raw protein contains amino acids that may be particularly helpful in building muscle, preventing muscle loss and providing fuel during exercise. Raw milk has also been shown to boost muscle repair in athletes.

  • Raw Cheese Builds Muscle and is Neuro-protective (Brain Food)

Cheeses made from raw grass-fed milk have also been shown to be linked to more muscle mass and better physical performance in older adults.  In fact, several studies have demonstrated that drinking raw milk after a workout can decrease muscle damage, promote muscle repair, increase strength and even decrease muscle soreness.     This makes it a natural, and in my humble opinion, a much better alternative to those highly processed protein drinks, which actually have denatured protein instead of the natural protein found in raw milk. No contest, raw milk wins.

Cheese Is a Brain Food

Cheese isn’t widely known as a “brain food” — but it should be. For instance, consuming mold-fermented cheese, like camembert, for three months had beneficial effects on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in older women with mild cognitive decline. 

So what? Low levels of BDNF have been connected to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and schizophrenia. Bioactive peptides produced by milk fermentation during the cheese-making seem to have antioxidant properties that play a role in enhancing cognitive ability.12

What Makes Cheese So Good for You?

Cheese is likely good for us because it consists of a powerful nutritional triad of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K2, which together channel calcium into our bones and teeth while keeping it out of our arteries. That works for me!

Vitamin K2’s role in heart health is also well-known. Well sort of well known. The evidence is there but most doctors do not seem to act upon it. In fact, in one study, those who had the highest amount of vitamin K2 were 52% less likely to experience severe calcification in their arteries and 57% less likely to die from heart disease over a 7 to 10-year period. In other words, drinking raw grass-fed milk lessons your chances of vascular disease. Raise your hand if your doctor ever told you to drink milk.

  • Raw Milk Helps Prevent Weight Gain

Have I got your attention? Several studies have linked whole raw milk intake to a lower risk of obesity. Notice, I said whole, so not reduced fat. A study in 145 three-year-old Latino children found that higher milk-fat consumption was associated with a lower risk of childhood obesity. 

Another study including over 18,000 middle-aged and elderly women showed that eating more high-fat dairy products was associated with less weight gain and a lower risk of obesity. 

There are a number of things that may contribute to weight loss and prevent weight gain when it comes to raw milk.  One that I am aware of, as a milk lover, is how satisfied I feel for hours after having a cup of milk. It is never bloating, just filling in a calming way.  No sugar high either like you get with soft drinks.  Snacking is less likely. 

Back to the CLA (conjugated linoleic) acid in raw milk.  It has been studied for its ability to actually improve weight loss by promoting fat breakdown and inhibiting fat production. Besides the CLA, the calcium in milk may also promote a lower risk for being overweight or obese. 

The chart below is put out by Raw Farm USA.  It sums up the differences between raw cow’s milk and all other milks quite well.

raw milk

Where to Get Raw Dairy?

Today it is easier than ever to find excellent raw dairy.  It is likely that you live near a raw dairy farm or group of farmers who have formed a co-op to supply you with life-changing raw dairy.  

In Cincinnati, I get my raw dairy from Highland Haven Farms.  They deliver to my neighborhood, they educate themselves and their customers on the latest in raw dairy farming and they are always improving.  Currently, for example, they are 95% of the way to having all A2 cows, which means that their cows have been bred to be the healthiest cows possible when it comes to milk for humans.


Highland Haven Farms is a small group of grass-based diversified family farms in Hillsboro, Ohio offering raw cow and goat dairy items, pasture-raised meats and poultry, soy-free eggs, a large variety of organically grown veggies, and much more through a PMA program.  Contact them by email ([email protected]) or call 937-588-1016. (I am in no way affiliated with HHF, just a happy customer.)


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24898881
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56060/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23911336/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23075559/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17684208/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19997019/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28856083/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26912496
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4574006

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