|MadSci Network: Agricultural Sciences|
This is a 'half-truth', similar to arguing that raw meat is healthier than cooked meat for much the same reasons. True: 1. Proteins are conformally changed upon heating (usually making them MORE digestible). 2. Enzymes are proteins, so they are 'denatured' by cooking and become ineffective at their original functions. This includes lactase. Missing Truths: 1. Milk is pasteurized for very good reasons. At the turn of the 20th century, tuberculosis was responsible for 1 in 3 deaths due to infectious disease in adults. A lot of tuberculosis was being transferred from cattle to humans. This was the principal motivating factor for pasteurization of milk. 2. Many cattle diseases are transferrable through milk, including brucellosis, anthrax and others. 3. Crohn's disease is believed to be caused by Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, which is transferred by milk as well. 4. Many 'raw meat' pathogens also get in milk, such as E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes. There have been many outbreaks traceable to use of unpasteurized milk. 5. Many raw food products contain chemicals intended to preserve the food. This includes milk and eggs. There are antibiotics in these products that interfere with human digestion. 6. Changes in protein conformation during pasteurization or cooking are not necessarily bad: usually the endproduct is more easily digestible than the original. The use of unpasteurized milk in cheese is being discontinued for health reasons in North America and Europe, including France where it has been clung to to the bitter end. All of this public health interventions has a lot to do with the modern life expectancies in the developed world.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Agricultural Sciences.