Homogenization of Milk: What are you putting in your body?
The process of homogenizing milk was bought about around the 1900′s to stop the milk-fat (cream) from separating from the rest of the milk over time. This gave the milk a longer shelf life and also apparently made it easier for humans digest.
Raw milk, as it comes from the cow is a mixture of fat blobs, other solids and water. Over time the fat blobs separate from the rest of the mix and leave what is essentially skim milk on the bottom.
Auguste Gaulin thought he would do something about the problem and in 1899 he patented his homogenization machine. The machine was designed to break down the large fat molecules into smaller ones to stop them from separating.
Homogenization is simply forcing the milk at high pressure through tapered tubes, as the diameter of the tube decreases the pressure that the milk is under increases and causes the fat molecules to break down. The pressure is typically around 2,000 – 3,000 psi although there are some that work at pressures of up to 14,500psi!
Before homogenization the fat globules are between 1 – 10 microns in size (1 micron = 0.001mm) and after homogenization they are typically between 0.2 and 2 microns. After the pressure treatment, the tiny fat globules have a tendency to clump together and can contain particles of whey and casein among other things inside the walls of fat globule. Others are completely surrounded by protein.
So what’s the big deal? I hear you ask.
There have been numerous studies done on rodents that confirm that these protein heavy clumps can increase the chance of allergic reactions to milk.
Also the fact that the fat globules are so small and there are so many millions more of them that it makes it much easier for them to pass through the stomach and gut without being digested. That means that anything that might be contained inside the fat globules is able to enter directly into the bloodstream.
One particular enzyme that can be contained in these globules is called Xanthine oxidase and when it enters the bloodstream it can act against the arterial walls, the body reacts by protecting the area with a layer of cholesterol.
Essentially homogenization makes milk a super efficient vehicle for unwanted enzymes and proteins to bypass the digestive system and enter directly into the bloodstream.
We drink unhomogenized organic milk and it tastes fantastic. The fat separation is really a non-issue with us as you just need to give it a bit of a shake before you open it and it’s all fine!
What milk do you prefer? Did you know what homogenization was before? Will this article make you pay more attention at the supermarket? Let us know by leaving your comments below!
For more detailed information on this subject check out Noel Taylor’s article: Homogenization – Rocket Fuel for Cancer.