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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Why I give my family raw goats milk to drink

Lately there has been an increase of raids on small farms that provide their community with the opportunity to enjoy raw milk. I've read a good deal of information on the risks, the benefits and thought I would share what I've found.

The fat, or lipid, content of goat milk ranges from 3% to 6%. Fat and cholesterol are essential nutrients for the body. Cholesterol is obtained through the diet exclusively from animal products and is also produced by the liver. Cholesterol is needed by the body for building and maintaining cell membranes. It also aids in cell transport functions and nerve conduction.

Two qualities regarding lipids in the composition of goat milk fat are very significant at differentiating the special health qualities of goat milk.

percent of medium chain fatty acids
fat globule size

Fat globules in goat milk are smaller than in cow's milk. Cow's milk also contains agglutinin, a protein that causes fat molecules to clump together. Fat is more evenly dispersed in goat milk giving it a creamier texture. The fat (cream) does not easily separate from the remaining ingredients, causing the milk to remain naturally homogenized.

The smaller fat globule size, combined with the fact that the globules do not clump together as in cow's milk, contributes to the higher digestibility of goat milk.

Goat milk has about twice the Medium Chain Triglycerides as cow's milk--35% compared to 17%MCT have the recognized ability to provide energy without being deposited in fatty tissue of the body. They also help lower cholesterol, dissolve cholesterol deposits and prevent cholesterol deposits.

The health benefits of MCT are widely known by the medical community, which uses them as treatment for a variety of conditions, ie: coronary diseases, cystic fibrosis, and many others.

Protein is one of the six major nutrient groups and is essential to life--it composes the muscle and organ tissues, and is used for processes such as manufacturing hemoglobin and antibodies.
It is so significant, that when dietary intake of protein is insufficient, our bodies will begin to utilize protein from our muscles in order to maintain life function. Protein is composed of building blocks known as amino acids. Out of 20 total amino acids used by humans for building protein, our bodies are capable of manufacturing 11 of these, called nonessential amino acids. The essential amino acids comprise the remaining 9, which must be supplied through the diet.

The amino acids are joined together in different combinations to form the various types of protein in our bodies. With the proper supply of essential amino acids, our bodies are able to synthesize the necessary protein for our cells to grow, maintain and function properly.
Dietary protein, is typically categorized as either complete or incomplete.

Complete protein sources contain sufficient amounts of the essential amino acids for protein synthesis. Protein in milk qualifies as a complete protein source. Incomplete protein sources, on the other hand, do not, by themselves, supply all of the essential amino acids. These incomplete protein sources are comprised of plant foods. However, as most vegetarians well know, particular combinations of plant products, such as a legume with a grain product, e.g., beans and rice, will supply a complete set of the essential amino acids.

Digestion and Bioavailability of Protein in MilkProtein digestion is accomplished by enzymes that break down the protein into its constituent parts. The digestive process begins in the stomach and continues through the small intestinal tract. Different forms of protein are digested at different rates, and to varying degrees of completeness. Protein in milk is nearly completely digested and absorbed before it passes through to the large intestine.

A rating scale known as the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) is used by the FDA as a method of evaluating protein quality for humans. The highest possible score of 1.0 implies that the digested protein provides 100% of the essential amino acids for humans.
The protein in milk, with each of its two constituent protein classes, whey and casein, is among the few that are rated at a 1.0. Whey is a liquid by-product of the cheesemaking process, and is used as an additive in quite a few processed foods. Whey has been linked to health benefits, such as the regulation of blood sugar levels for diabetics.

Goat milk provides around 9 grams of protein per cup, compared to about 8 grams of protein per cup for cow's milk. Protein for both are composed of approximately 80% casein and 20% whey.
Of the 18 amino acids listed in the USDA's national nutrient database, goat milk contains higher amounts than cow's milk of 14 of them. Of the remaining four, tryptophan, aspartic acid, glutamic acid and glycine, only tryptophan is an essential amino acid.

View the USDA goat milk table for nutrients.
View the USDA cow's milk table for nutrients.

The higher levels of amino acids in goat milk have been linked to several health benefits. It's not, however, the amount of protein or amino acids in goat milk that is the focus of most of the health benefits of goat milk protein. Rather, it is the difference in the composition of the proteins from that of cow's milk protein.

Remember, we said that protein is composed of amino acids...Well, many different proteins can be formed by slight variations in the combinations of the amino acids. Think of a child's construction set, such as Legos. If you choose 20 different pieces from the set, think of the great variety of constructs you could make by varying the combinations of those 20 pieces!
It's the same for proteins. Since goat milk and cow's milk are complete proteins, we know they each supply all the essential amino acids (the Legos pieces) for humans. However, the structures of the proteins (your Legos creations!) that supply the amino acids are different.


Another reason that I've chosen goats milk for my family - Goats are much smaller animals than cows - therefore the enzymes and proteins are designed for a smaller creature - we are not large animals like cows - we are smaller and closer in size to goats, therefore - it is best for us to digest goats milk products versus cows milk products.