Pasteurization of food was developed to slow microbial growth. It is a process named after the French chemist Louis Pasteur. He and Claude Bernard completed the first pasteurization process in 1862. It was designed to prevent wine and beer from souring. In other words, pasteurization was introduced to decrease the bacterial content of food.
But does pasteurization kill all of the microbes in food? The answer is no. It is well known that heat-resistant pathogens are able to survive pasteurization in large numbers. In milk, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis is one such microbe.Researchers have shown that patients with Crohn’s disease are found to have a significantly higher prevalence of this microbe in their gut tissues compared with patients without Crohn’s disease.
My testing has found 100 percent of patients with Crohn’s disease are sensitive to a protein (casein) in dairy. In fact, I routinely tell my patients with colitis (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) to go dairy-free. It is rare not to see their disease subside after a two-month trial of a dairy-free diet.
The problem with pasteurization is that it not only kills microbes in food but also destroys nutrients the food contains. The nutrients lost or altered in pasteurization include vitamins A, B6, B12, C, and D, fatty acids, and minerals.
In the case of milk, pasteurization destroys the naturally occurring enzymes that aid in its digestion. These enzymes are heat-sensitive proteins. This enzymatic destruction is at the forefront of why so many people have difficulties ingesting dairy products.
You would think that the pasteurization of milk was a good thing to implement in order to decrease the number of infections that developed from ingesting milk. However, the evidence does not support this idea. Milk itself is not a dirty substance. A well-fed and well-cared-for cow will secrete healthy milk that is an ideal food source for growing a baby cow. This “clean” milk can be ingested by humans and can be used to make other dairy-based products, including cheese and yogurt.
More than 100 years ago (and much further back in time), humans were ingesting milk that was not pasteurized and there were no epidemics due to contaminated milk. The industrialization of milk, however, introduced new sources of problems for dairy cattle and potentially newer sources of infection to people who ingested the product. Pasteurization allowed producers to become less vigilant on maintaining a healthy herd.
Even if there was an infection in the milk, the producer counted on pasteurization to kill the infection. Before the industrialization of dairy farms, milk was supplied by a local farmer to the population that lived near the farm. Now, milk issupplied by large, often unsanitary factory farms and shipped great distances.
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