‘Tis the season for sniffles, sneezes, and other unpleasant illnesses. Cold medications are flying off the shelves as your friends and neighbors seek relief.
On our Jersey milk cow farm, we subscribe to the belief that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To keep our immune systems naturally strong, our entire family relies on the power of raw milk in our daily diets.
Research supports the finding that raw milk from Jersey milk cows has proven immune-boosting properties (we’ll talk more about that later). If you’re not drinking raw milk as part of a healthy lifestyle, you might want to reconsider.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how raw milk protects against respiratory infections, and answer the following common questions:
- What is raw milk?
- Can raw milk help protect against respiratory infections?
- Are there any risks associated with raw milk from a Jersey milk cow?
- What are some tips for safely consuming raw milk from a Jersey milk cow?
What is raw milk?
Raw milk from Jersey milk cows has not undergone any pasteurization or homogenization processes. Modern-day dairy production uses one or both of those methods to meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements for commercial sale.
Dairy farmers collect raw milk directly from the cow for consumption. On our farm, we conduct periodic testing of our Jersey milk cow’s raw milk for harmful bacteria before we drink it.
Key characteristics of raw milk from Jersey milk cows
How can you tell raw milk from commercially processed versions? Some of the key characteristics of raw milk include:
- Beneficial microorganisms. Raw milk may contain beneficial bacteria and probiotics that help maintain digestive health and overall well-being.
- Flavor and texture. Creamier and more flavorful than pasteurized milk, raw milk is delicious to drink in a glass or used for making cheeses, ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products.
- Nutrient content. Raw milk retains its original nutrient content, including vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and enzymes.
Can raw milk help protect against respiratory infections?
The potential of raw milk to protect against respiratory infections is a topic of ongoing debate and research. We know the benefits of raw milk having experienced it for ourselves.
Some studies show a correlation between consuming raw milk and a reduction in respiratory infections. One such study of 983 European infants examined consumption of raw milk, pasteurized milk, and ultra-high temperature pasteurized milk with prevalence of respiratory tract infections, runny nose, ear infections, and fever.
Raw Milk Science Facts
What is it about raw milk that our immune systems like? The science behind it is quite simple. Nutrition is one of the critical components of immune function.
Science has linked the microbiome to the immune system. Gut microbiota play a crucial role in boosting our immune system. They direct specialized immune cells to produce antiviral proteins that can eliminate viral infections that cause most respiratory illnesses.
Some of the ways a healthy gut microbiome enhances your immune system include:
- Regulates immune response to various threats, including pathogens and harmful substances to maintain a delicate balance between defending against infections and avoiding excessive immune reactions that can cause autoimmune diseases or allergies.
- Produces beneficial compounds such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that have anti-inflammatory effects and regulate and balance the immune response.
- Develops immune cells that are trained and educated in the gut to recognize and respond to pathogens effectively.
The good bacteria and nutrients in Jersey milk cow raw milk contributes to a healthy gut microbiome. Including it as part of a healthy diet helps your body build immunity to the icky viruses that cause respiratory infections and other illnesses.
Are there any risks associated with raw milk from a Jersey milk cow?
There are risks associated with drinking raw milk from a Jersey milk cow if you don’t practice proper sanitary procedures for raising and milking your cows.
One of the biggest risks for contamination comes from allowing your Jersey cattle to stand in their manure, which can embed unsafe bacteria in their teats and transfer it to their milk supply during milking.
Keep your Jersey milk cows and their shelters clean, and follow a sanitary milking process for the best results.
What are some tips for safely consuming raw milk from a Jersey milk cow?
In addition to keeping your Jersey milk cows and their shelters clean and following a sanitary milking process, there are some other steps you can take to consume raw milk safely.
- Know the source of your raw milk.
If you’re raising Jersey milk cows, then you know where the milk comes from and whether the Jersey cattle are healthy and milked using a sanitary process. Buying raw milk from another source comes with a little more risk. Ask to see the conditions in which the dairy cattle are raised and milked, plus any results of periodic testing of the raw milk supply for harmful bacteria.
- Check local regulations for raw milk distribution.
Some regions have specific requirements for the sale and distribution of raw milk. Be aware of these local regulations and guidelines if you’re buying your supply from a third-party source.
- Store your raw milk properly.
Whether you’re milking your Jersey cattle or getting your raw milk elsewhere, store it in a clean, sanitized container in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Following these guidelines slows the growth of any potentially harmful bacteria.
- Practice good milking hygiene.
Wash your hands and any equipment used to handle raw milk thoroughly before and after milking your Jersey milk cows. You can follow our 6-step process mentioned above to ensure proper sanitation.
- Order periodic sample testing.
We have our raw milk supply tested periodically to ensure it’s free of harmful bacteria. We recommend you do the same.
- Pasteurization. idfa.org. Accessed November 7, 2023.
- Milk homogenization. sciencedirect.com. Accessed November 7, 2023.
- Natural proteins: Sources, isolation, characterization and applications. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed November 7, 2023.
- Consumption of unprocessed cow’s milk protects infants from common respiratory infections. jacionline.org. Accessed November 7, 2023.
- The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System… ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed November 7, 2023.
- A healthy microbiome builds a strong immune system… umassmed.edu. Accessed November 7, 2023.
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