The Truth About Raw Dairy and Pregnancy

What's one of the first things you think about when you consider foods you aren't supposed to eat during pregnancy? If you're a dairy lover who has been through a conventional pregnancy before, you might remember being unable to eat certain types of unpasteurized soft cheeses. Why was this? It was because of the fear of listeria, a rare but potentially very harmful disease that could be particularly disastrous for pregnant women.

The theory of the modern medical and food regulation community is that unpasteurized milk products are unsafe for consumption because of bacteria like listeria. Although the immune system of a normally healthy person might be able to handle small amounts of soft cheeses, pregnant women - who need the calcium and Vitamin A found in dairy now more than ever - simply can't handle the potential contamination that might be present.

While the medical and food regulation community has worked very hard since the invention of pasteurization to show that unpasteurized dairy products are indeed quite harmful to human health, the truth is that no one has yet proved these unfounded assumptions! If you're pregnant, you need raw dairy products now more than ever, but you also need to know that there is a right and a wrong way to go about getting these products. Here's the truth about raw dairy products, especially as it applies to pregnant women.

Raw dairy from proper sources is actually quite safe

The problem with many "studies" showing that raw dairy is full of bacteria that cause common foodborne illnesses is that these studies are typically conducted on milk that is meant to be pasteurized. This milk comes from conventional dairy farms, which feed cattle an unnatural diet of grains, pump them up on hormones and antibiotics, and keep them in generally dirty, cramped conditions that are, of course, going to cause disease.

Besides this, milk that is eventually going to be pasteurized is kept in bulk tanks, and safety precautions pre-pasteurization are not followed. Of course tests run on this milk show that it's full of bacteria and other harmful things!

Farmers who produce certified raw dairy, on the other hand, have healthier cattle that are fed their natural diet of grass and hay. They don't use hormones or antibiotics on their cattle, and they let their cows roam in pastures, so they get more exercise and are also less likely to become diseases due to living in a constantly cramped environment.

And besides all this, farmers who are producing certified raw dairy follow safety precautions that their conventional counterparts don't follow. They know that their dairy needs to be healthy and uncontaminated straight from the cow, and they take precautions to keep it that way! For this reason, tests run on raw dairy that is meant to be consumed raw show that it has very little - if any - potential for causing foodborne illness!

Raw, grassfed dairy is actually healthier for you

Not only is raw, grassfed dairy not harmful as long as it's produced properly, but it's also more helpful than pasteurized dairy. Dairy that has been pasteurized - which is a process where it's heated to a certain temperature for a certain amount of time, supposedly in order to kill any bacteria present in the milk - has lost many of its essential enzymes, healthy bacteria, and nutrition. For this reason, drinking pasteurized milk isn't much better than drinking water, and it may even be worse, since pasteurized milk has been linked to about 4.7 of 100,000 cases of foodborne illness!

When you drink milk that doesn't have those vital enzymes and nutrients removed, your body gets much more calcium, Vitamin A, and essential digestive enzymes from the milk. These digestive enzymes help your body process foods through your intestines and generally promote good health by helping your body absorb more nutrients out of the food you eat.

At first, when you load up your body with these enzymes it has been missing, you might get symptoms similar to slight food poisoning, but this is simply because the enzymes are cleaning out your digestive system and preparing it to function normally in the future. Once you become acclimated to a diet that includes raw dairy, your body will start functioning in a much healthier manner, and you'll never go back!

Getting the best raw dairy for pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body needs digestive enzymes and dairy nutrients more than ever, but getting the raw dairy you need may be difficult. In some states, it's even illegal for dairy farmers to sell unpasteurized milk and butter! However, you may be able to find a local raw dairy farmer in your area if sales of raw dairy are legal. Check out for more information on where you might be able to find such milk.

In some areas where selling raw milk to a consumer is illegal, dairy farmers have found a loophole in the system. In these areas, you can sometimes purchase a "share" of an actual dairy cow. You'll be a part-owner of the cow, help pay for her care and keeping, and will subsequently be entitled to a certain percentage of her products. Since you are technically the cow's owner, no one can keep you from using raw dairy products produced by your own cow!

If you absolutely can't find a place to get certified, grassfed raw dairy products, you can substitute for them with high quality yogurt and other fermented dairy products, like kefir. These products have the healthy bacteria added back in during the fermentation process, so they give your body better nutrition than non-fermented pasteurized dairy products.

For more information about raw dairy during pregnancy as well as other important information about nutrition during pregnancy, see the book Healing Our Children. It's packed with information on the healthiest, most natural way to have a healthy pregnancy through choosing the right foods before, during, and after your pregnancy.

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