I was asked recently to write more about homogenized milk because I mention it as a food that upsets my system. It’s not quite as awful a reaction as with refined oils but I do seem to have symptoms that go on for quite awhile.
In a book called Deep Nutrition the author explains that in fresh milk, both the protein and fat cells are encapsulated, which keeps them protected from chemical reactions. The fat cells are wrapped in a membrane donated by the mammary gland. This membrane protects the milk fat but also is tagged with a bunch of chemical information that talks to the digestive system, signaling that the fat does not need extra digestion (meaning that the body will not release bile) and encouraging intestinal cell growth. This is good for babies because they don’t have the capacity to release very much bile and they need to start developing a robust intestinal lining.
When milk is cooked (pasteurized) the proteins in the milk loose their protective coatings releasing vitamins and minerals out into the milk. Homogenization breaks the fats out of their protective membranes and once that happens the colloidal calcium phosphate released by the proteins fuses with the broken fats via saponification, to form a kind of milk-fat soap which can be very irritating to the GI tract. The fats are no longer easily digestible and the membrane that protected the fat cell, no longer communicates with the digestive system so the benefits that it offered are also lost.
The standard advice of most nutritionists and health experts in the US is that pasteurized and homogenized milk is not nutritionally or substantially different than fresh milk. There have been no studies that directly compare fresh and processed milk. But as you can see from the former paragraphs there is more than enough scientific understanding of how the body processes milk to draw the conclusion that there is a difference between fresh and processed milk.
You don’t have to have an electron microscope to see what pasteurization does to fresh milk. If you were to set two jars next to each other one of fresh and one of pasteurized you would notice a huge difference in the way the cream functions. Cream naturally floats to the top of both but in the pasteurized milk it is substantially stickier and will refuse to shake back into the milk, where as cream easily mixes back into fresh milk.
I don’t seem to have a problem with milk that has only been pasteurized. This may be due to the to the fact that pasteurization messes more with the proteins than the fats.
Homogenization however acts upon the fats in the milk. By forcing milk through a very fine screen at high pressure the protective membrane of the fats are ripped off and the fats globules burst into tiny particles that will now stay in suspension. No shaking is required.
While homogenization is an issue for me, I want to point out that dairy products seem to be a favorite place for food manufacturers to add oil derivatives as well. I find that all cream and soft cheeses such as cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt and cream cheese need to be checked for oil derivatives like Mono and Diglycerides and Polysorbate 20 or 80.
In Deep Nutrition, Catherine Shanahan points out that milk that has been processed is not really milk. I try and keep that in mind while I’m shopping. It makes it easier for me to say no to things that make me sick.