Researchers at Stanford University published findings from a pilot study in the March/April 2014 issue of Annals of Family Medicine that concluded there is little difference in digestibility between pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. These findings contradict anecdotal evidence from raw milk drinkers across the country, and the study is being criticized by raw milk advocates who cite sample size, length of testing and use of controls among the study’s flaws.
The study observed 16 participants who drank three different types of milk (pasteurized milk, raw milk, and soy milk) over the course of 8 days per type. Participants were randomly assigned the order of milk in unmarked containers. Each participant consumed one type of milk over the course of 8 days; they were tested for lactose via a hydrogen breath test on days 1 and 8. After a short break, they repeated the cycle with a different type of milk.
One of the study’s biggest flaws is its small sample size: the study only chose 16 participants after screening 440 applicants who claimed to have problems digesting milk.
Another large flaw is the brevity of the experiment. “It takes longer than eight days for beneficial bacteria to recolonize the gut of a severely lactose intolerant person. These good bacteria produce the lactase enzyme, which helps digest lactose,” says Mark McAfee, Chairman of the Board at the Raw Milk Institute.
Additionally, McAfee suggests that the H2 breath test is insufficient to diagnose milk sugar digestion problems in 97% of applicants. “Most people are not overtly lactose intolerant but are better described as pasteurization intolerant, something for which medical science may not [yet] have an appropriate test,” he says.
The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods. http://www.westonaprice.org/lab