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From Jordan's Desk: Devil in the Milk

Say Cheese!

Beware of the "devil" in most milk, says Dr. Thomas Cowan. Most milk has major issues, and it starts with the cow, according to Dr. Cowan, a holistic family practitioner. Cowan has a lot to say about the majority of our milk supply, too. He believes that a large amount of our unhealth as a nation stems from how we handle or mishandle milk and milk products.

He says we have the “wrong kind of cows” for health—that the Holsteins and Friesians generally give milk that has a small, yet significant amount of something called beta-casein type A1, also known as A1 beta casein. You may not think that matters much, but epidemiological studies have implicated A1 beta casein in heart, blood sugar and mental unhealth.

Interestingly, Cowan’s fascination with milk started when he read a book called The Milk of Human Kindness Is Not Pasteurized by William Campbell Douglass, M.D. In short, Cowan says it was one of the most influential books he has ever read. That’s when he decided that a lot of unhealth in America stemmed from milk mishandling.

On the other hand, Cowan believes that raw and cultured dairy products from healthy grassfed cows are some of the healthiest foods. Unfortunately, when milk is not produced this healthy way, then there can be problems. Pasteurized conventional milk and milk products, particularly low fat, can produce widespread unhealth.

Cowan’s interest in milk was further piqued when he asked to write a foreword to a book called The Devil in the Milk, written by agribusiness professor and farm  management consultant Keith Woodford. Woodford asserts that there is a health “devil” in some of our milk and that we need to deal with it.

The Devil in the Milk outlines that milk consists of three parts: fat or cream, whey and milk solids. Milk solids (not the fat, cream or whey) are where the “devil” in the milk can materialize. Here’s why: the milk’s solid part is made up of many different proteins of various names, as well as lactose and other sugars. The protein parts of the solid are the focus. One of these proteins is called casein. There are many different types of casein, but the predominant protein called beta casein is highlighted.

Here's a little background. . . All proteins are long chains of amino acids that have what are termed branches coming off the various parts of the main chain. Beta casein is a 229 chain of amino acids with a proline at number 67. Well . . . at least that proline is there at number 67 in “old fashioned” cows like Jerseys, Asian and African cows. Cows that have the proline at number 67 are called A2 cows.  Five thousand years ago or so, however, a mutation happened in this proline amino acid and converted it to histidine. Cows that have this mutated beta casein, such as Holsteins, are called A1 cows.

It gets even a little more technical. The side chain that comes off this amino acid is BCM 7, which is a small protein called a peptide that can have ill effects on animal and human health. Fortunately, proline (in the old-fashioned cows) has a strong bond that keeps BCM 7 from getting into the milk.

Not so with histidine and the modern cow—which makes up most cows in America.

Histidine, the mutated protein, only marginally holds on to BCM 7, so it can get into the milk of the cows and is passed on to the humans who drink it. That’s a problem, too, because research indicates that BCM 7 can adversely affect neurological, immune, blood sugar, heart, inflammation and other health. What makes it even more serious is that nearly all conventional American dairy cows have this mutated beta casein and are predominantly A1 cows.

Long story short. . . watch out for the "devil" wearing a conventional milk mustache. Instead, choose raw and cultured dairy products from healthy grassfed cows.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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