Unprocessed, fermented dairy products are beneficial for gut health because of the probiotics (“good bacteria”) they provide
In addition to providing bacteria that can help replenish and promote gut health, the fermentation process that is used to make curd also naturally helps breaks down lactose molecules, along with some of the proteins found in dairy (casein and whey). This makes them easier on digestion than milk, plus they have less of a hormonal response.
Fat is a natural part of milk, and it’s the fat that is actually a rich source of vitamins A and D. Full-fat dairy yogurt from grass-fed cows also provides higher levels of two rare nutrients, conjugated linoleic acid, and vitamin K2. Conjugated linoleic acid is known to improve immune function and help with weight maintenance and insulin control. K2 is necessary for many different bodily functions, including building strong bones, teeth and healthy skin.
Why is raw yogurt and milk best? Here’s what you need to know if you’re not familiar with raw dairy products: Pasteurization and homogenization can denature dairy and alter its natural chemical structure, making fats rancid and difficult to digest, while also destroying nutrients and important enzymes. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to very high temperatures in order to destroy all disease-causing bacteria and pathogens, but in the process it unfortunately also lowers many nutritional qualities and leads sugar and protein molecules to change form, which makes them more likely to trigger immune reactions.
There’s a big difference between pasteurized milk and raw milk for this reason, so even people who cannot tolerate congenital yogurt or milk well might find they can digest raw milk.
Finally, another important factor to consider is the health of the animal that produces the dairy. The quality of an animal’s diet and its living conditions have significant effects on the nutritional value of its meat or milk. Dairy products from industrially raised cows have a low nutritional value, since the cows are often fed an unnatural diet and kept indoors for the majority of their lives.
Dr. Kalpana Shekhawat M.D.
Functional Medicine Specialist