>>In your opinion, if one doesn’t have access to raw milk, is it better to use a substitute milk (such as almond milk) rather than pasteurized milk? (pretending for a second that price wasn’t a consideration).<<
I was discussing this with a pregnant guest a couple of weeks ago. Her husband is a proponent of alternative nutrition with a very different approach than mine, and at his suggestion she stopped eating dairy and minimized animal proteins while pregnant. I shared with her my conviction that in pregnancy, protein is critical (see the guidelines I suggest here), and when asked for what I considered to be good sources of protein, responded with: raw milk, meat, chicken, eggs. Then we started talking about what to do when raw milk isn’t available.
This is where her husband’s view and mine converged. Until I learned about traditional food practices about six years ago, I didn’t give my children dairy at all. When asked by others about why they were so healthy – practically no ear infections, infrequent colds, etc – I always credited not eating dairy as being the main cause. I felt that dairy products were mucus causing, bacteria laden products that were best avoided. You can imagine that it was a mental shift when we started drinking raw milk!
Raw milk is a real food, and pasteurized milk is a processed food. How they’re used in the body is different, and I still strongly lean toward avoiding milk if it’s not raw. When it comes to pregnancy, I told our guest that I while it’s not an ideal food, I thought the benefits of pasteurized milk outweighed the disadvantages, in accordance with Tom Brewer’s protein guidelines for pregnant women.
Substitute nut milks have their own issues of limited nutrient absorption, so this is far from a black and white issue, and I haven’t seen research that scientifically demonstrates whether your body is left with more nutrients if you drink pasteurized milk or substitute milks. I like the taste of milk and so do my kids, so based on that alone we’d be happy to drink it regularly. But nutritionally, my personal choice since moving here is to leave milk for an occasional treat, and to increase broth and liver intake to boost nutrient intake and compensate for the lack of raw milk.
I’ve made a substitute sesame milk using tahini paste as a base (whiz it up with a lot of water and a little bit of sweetener), which I’m not crazy over but the taste is fine and it’s high in calcium. (It’s easier for me to use prepared techina as a dip for vegetables to get the nutrients in that way, rather than drinking it, so that’s what I do.) Making your own nut milks can cut down the cost significantly, if that’s the route you decide to go.
So my not-so-scientific-this-is-just-my-personal-opinion is, for pregnant women, it might be worth it to drink pasteurized milk rather than nut milks as a protein source. Otherwise, go for the alternative milks to avoid congestion issues while enjoying a milk substitute, and look into other ways to boost nutrients from other foods.
(This post is part of Real Food Wednesday.)