Homogenization — Healthier or Not?

Submitted by Courtney on Tue, 04/20/2010 - 13:47

As a child, I was raised on 2% milk. That was all there was to it. I knew that there were different kinds of milk – goat, rice, soy, almond – and even different “fat” levels to milk – skim, 1%, 2% and homogenized – but I never knew was homogenized milk actually WAS.

When I decided to begin switching my child from breast milk to homogenized milk, a good friend of mine gasped when she saw the container and told me that what I was feeding my baby was potentially killing him.

But hadn’t homogenized milk been around for a long while? If it was so unsafe, why is it still being sold in stores?

What exactly is homogenization?

Truth be told, I had no idea what “homo” milk really even was. The homogenization process can be viewed as the milk going through a “second stage” of pasteurization. If you have ever seen raw milk, you will notice that in its natural state it has an “oil and water” appearance. There is a “cream” component that sits on the bottom, and a more liquid mixture that sits on the top. To homogenize the milk and rid it if this oil/water combination, the milk is run through little tiny tubs to keep both the fat “cream” molecules together with the liquid molecules. The fat molecules, as a result, are reduced in size so they disperse more easily throughout the milk, which prevents the “creaming” or thickening of the milk.

Why Homogenized Milk May be Bad for You

One argument to why homogenized milk is bad for you is because those fat cells are reduced to such a small size that these cells can then enter into our arteries directly and cause heart disease and an array of other heart problems.

It is also arguable that raw milk allows our bodies to more readily process the enzymes, fat, and nutrients that we need.

Why Homogenization may be Good for You

Homogenization and pasteurization was introduced with the idea of it helping kill off any bad bacteria that may have caused a number of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis. Another reason why homogenized milk was seen as beneficial is because it is believed that the process enables milk to last longer, thus allowing for milk to be transported further distances and to be sold in grocery stores nation-wide.

So which is it?

My stance on any sort of food product is to go as natural as possible. Those who are lactose intolerant have, oddly enough, even shown that they do not suffer any allergic reactions when drinking raw milk! I now go to a natural food store and purchase raw milk for my son (all it requires is me shaking up the bottle to milk the fat with the liquid) and I have been very pleased with the results. Raw milk, in my opinion, actually tastes even better than the pasteurized and homogenized milks!

Before you take my or any one’s word on which type of milk is best for you, be sure to do a bit of researching before you reach for the homogenized or raw milk in the store.

photo by A. Nandin

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