STUDY: Raw Milk is One of the “Most Effective Protections Against Allergies and Asthma”

Consuming raw, grass-fed cow’s milk, especially in early childhood, protects against allergies of all kinds, including hay fever, eczema and food allergies, new Polish study finds

Researchers have long-known that children raised on farms have stronger immune systems and are less likely to suffer from allergies or asthma. Until now, they’ve assumed its because they’re exposed to more bacteria.

But according to a new study, it’s not just petting animals that makes farm kids healthier. A much bigger factor in their immunity to increasingly common allergies is that farm kids often drink milk fresh from the cow.

There is a growing body of evidence that consumption of raw, grass-fed milk “can be one of the most effective protective factors” against allergies, the Polish researchers behind the study write.

In a 2006 study of over 900 children from rural areas in five European countries, regular consumption of unpasteurized milk was inversely related to asthma onset at 6 years of age.

This protective effect was stronger with recent exposure and in higher fat content milk.

In the same cohort, maternal consumption of butter and unskimmed cow’s milk during pregnancy strengthened the fetal immune system.

“Early consumption of raw farm milk not only protected from allergies and asthma but also exerted strong protection against sinus infection, ear infection and respiratory track infections,” writes pediatric allergist Barbara Sozanska.

And it’s not just the good bacteria present in unpasteurized milk. The fatty acids and other chemicals present in unprocessed milk were even more protective.

The quality of the milk fat depends on what the cows are fed, Sozanska notes. Grass-fed cow’s milk is much higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

In a 2011 study, showed higher concentration of omega 3s in human breast milk reduced the risk of eczema in toddlers.

Raw milk is not only not pasteurized, it’s not homogenized. Homogenization – the breaking of fat globules into very tiny particles to prevent the formation of cream on the top – may be even more destructive than pasteurization, Sozanska notes. It denatures the structure of not only the fat, but also casein and whey proteins.

In a 1990 study of mice, homogenized milk induced an allergic reaction in the animals’ intestinal walls, indicating that while raw milk can protect against allergies, homogenized milk can predispose children to them.

In addition to killing good bacteria, pasteurization and homogenization destroy immunoglobulins, which are used by the immune system to neutralize pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

In another 2012 study, the exposure to raw farm milk in pregnancy and the first year of life was associated with changes in the gene expression of innate immunity receptors, Sozanska notes.