Doctors of chiropractic have long been advocates of transforming health from the inside out. As we seek to better our patients’ health, there is one particular healing food that has been revered for centuries: goat milk and goat-milk-derived products.
Goat milk has extensive healing properties. Research shows that goat milk has better digestibility, buffering capacity and alkalinity than cow milk.(1,12) Several properties testify to the superiority of goat milk. First, goat milk biologically resembles human milk. Second, goat milk contains a low level of allergy-producing substances. Third, it digests quickly and absorbs completely. Last, goat milk is an alkaline powerhouse.
Biological Resemblance to Human Milk
Goat milk has a similarity to human milk that is unmatched in bovine (cow) milk, which may be at the root of goat milk’s healing properties. A study by the International Journal of Food Science Nutrition found that "goat milk has a very different profile of the non-protein nitrogen fraction to cow milk, with several constituents such as nucleotides (DNA structure) having concentrations approaching those in human breast milk." (2)
So at the very base of the DNA structure of goat milk are similarities to the DNA structure of human milk. Another study concluded, "The oligosaccharide (prebiotic) profile of goat milk is most similar to that of human milk." (3) The same study went on to state, "Goat milk oligosaccharides could be included in infant formulas to improve the nutrition of infants." (3) These prebiotics are on the cutting edge of digestive health.
Goat milk also resembles human milk in the protein structure. Beta casein, the major casein protein found in both goat and human milk, is different from the casein found in cow milk. (4) Also, the peptide mappings of these alpha-lactoalbumins and beta-lactoglobulins in goat and human milk are completely different from those of cow milk. (4) Another publication found that the micelle structures of the casein between human and goat milk had a prevalence of beta casein unmatched in cow milk. (13) Furthermore, "...milk samples from women and goats were found to contain significantly higher concentrations of selenium than samples from cows." (5)
Low Level of Allergy-Producing Substances
Perhaps one of goat milk’s most famous attributes, low allergenicity, is vital to keeping each patient in optimum health. Cow milk allergy is the No. 1 allergy of children, affecting roughly 500,000 to 1.5 million children every year. (6) Cow milk contains more than 20 allergen proteins (4), which are not recognized by the immune system and are targeted in ways that cause a variety of symptoms. Hives, wheezing, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, skin rash (commonly near and around the mouth), runny nose, watery eyes, colic in infants and even anaphylactic shock can all be signs and symptoms of a cow milk allergy.
Evidence points, however, to the lower allergic potential of goat milk when compared with cow milk. (4,6,9) One study found that nearly 93 percent of infants suffering from cow milk allergies were able to tolerate and thrive on goat milk. (7) Another animal model study concluded that "goat milk, when used as the first source of protein after a breast feeding period, is less allergenic than cow milk." (8) Alphas1 casein is one of the main allergens in cow milk. Goat milk, like human milk, contains low levels of allergy-causingalphas1 casein and high levels of alphas2 casein, which is non-allergy-causing.
Allergies to foods such as cow milk also affect adults. Often these allergies do not manifest themselves immediately in adults. It is common for adult allergies to cause latent discomfort, pain, damage and overall lack of wellness. Cow milk should always be lined up as one of the usual suspects when investigating food intolerances in patients. While soy milk has been touted as a safe alternative to cow milk, some studies show that those with a cow milk allergy have a 47-percent chance of also being allergic to soy milk. (10)
Rapid Digestion and Complete Absorption
Digestion is defined as catabolism (break-down) of food into elemental food particles (fats, proteins, carbohydrates) in the stomach, while absorption is the uptake of the food particles in the small intestine. Goat milk has better digestibility and absorption than cow milk for several reasons. (1) When the physicochemical make-up of these two milks are compared, a stark difference in the amount of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) arises.
Goat milk is much higher in SCFA and MCFA than cow milk. This means that those SCFA and MCFA have a larger surface-to-volume ratio and are better digested and absorbed than the long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) prevalent in cow milk. (11) In fact, a recent study found that “levels of the metabolically valuable short- and medium-chain fatty acids—caproic, caprylic, capric and lauric—are significantly higher in...goat (milk) than in cow milk.” (12) These higher levels of easy-to-digest SCFA and MCFA are broken down quicker and more completely than the LCFA abundant in cow milk.
Goat milk also contains proteins that digest in a superior manner. A study investigating the effect of pepsin and trypsin (two protein-digesting enzymes found in the stomach) revealed that while these enzymes completely digested over 96 percent of available goat milk protein, less than 73 percent of available cow milk protein was able to be digested completely. (13) In addition to highly digestible protein, goat milk contains far more digestion-friendly oligosaccharides (prebiotics). (14) Goat milk also has an abundance of the energy substrate adenosine triphosphate(ATP) that far exceeds bovine milk. (15) ATP is the energy “currency” that our metabolism is constantly manufacturing, used for every cellular reaction in the body.
Many foods cause the body to become acidic, which can lead to a host of health issues. (16) An accurate way to indicate if a food is acid-forming is to examine its buffering capacity, or rather its ability to reduce acid load. A study from the Journal of Dairy Science examined the buffering capacity of goat milk, cow milk, soy milk and antacid drugs. Now, in theory, the antacid drugs should have proven to have the best buffering capacity since their function is to reduce acid. However, the study found that goat milk overwhelmingly exceeded the buffering capabilities of the other three samples tested. (1)
Another study in the Journal of Nutrition found that oligosaccharides (prebiotics) from goat milk very likely play a major role in intestinal protection and repair. (17) This is important because acidic diets often cause damage to the gastrointestinal lining. Practitioners would be wise to use alkalizing goat milk products to help patients with acidic GI tracts.
As chiropractors, we must keep ourselves on the cutting edge of nutritional supplementation. Isn’t it time you started healing with goat milk?
Daniel Madock, DC, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACA News Extra
For the past 30 years, I have been using and recommending a goat-milk-based mineral/electrolyte supplement known as Capra Mineral Whey. This supplement is produced by Mt. Capra Wholefood Nutritionals, a unique company that has its own farm (complete with free-range goats) and a separate FDA-approved processing facility (www.mtcapra.com).
Goat milk is a very fragile and time-sensitive product, so Mt. Capra has developed a proprietary system for gently drying the goat milk to preserve its bioavailability. It has an entire product line devoted to wellness-enhancing products sourced from goat milk. In addition to the mineral whey, Mt. Capra offers a whole protein supplement known as Caprotein, which combines natural ratios of goat milk whey and casein protein to stimulate lean body (muscle) growth. Mt. Capra also supplies goat milk colostrum (CapraColostrum) and probiotics (Caprobiotics) for enhanced immune and digestive support, as well as CapraFlex, which targets bone and joint health.
- Park YW. Relative Buffering Capacity of Goat Milk, Cow Milk, Soy-Based Infant Formulas, and Commercial Nonprescription Antacid Drugs. J Dairy Sci 74: 3326-3333.
- Prosser CG, Mclaren RD, Frost D, Agnew M, Lowry DJ. Composition of the non-protein nitrogen fraction of goat whole milk powder and goat milk-based infant and follow-on formulae. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2008 Mar;59(2):123-33.
- Daddaoua A, Puerta V, Requena P, Martinez-Ferez A, Guadix E, Sanchez de Medina F, Zarzuelo A, Suarez MD, Boza JJ, Martinez-Augustin O. Goat Milk Oligosaccharides Are Anti-Inflammatory in Rats with Hapten-Induced Colitis. J Nutr. 2006; 136: 672-676.
- El-Agamy EI. The challenge of cow milk protein allergy. Small Ruminant Research. March 2007;68(1):64-72.
- Debski B, Picciano MF, Milner JA. Selenium Content and Distribution of Human, Cow and Goat Milk. J Nutr. 1987; 117: 1091-1097.
- Lara-Villoslada F, Olivares M, Jiménez J, Boza J, Xaus J. Goat Milk Is Less Immunogenic than Cow Milk in a Murine Model of Atopy. J Ped Gastroenterol Nutrition: October 2004; 39 (4):354-360.
- Freund G. Use of goat milk for infant feeding: experimental work at Créteil (France). Proceeding of the meeting Intérêts nutritionnel et diététique du lait de chèvre. Niort, France: INRA, 1996:119–21.
- Lara-Villoslada F, Olivares M, Jiménez J, Boza J, Xaus J. Goat Milk Is Less Immunogenic than Cow Milk in a Murine Model of Atopy. Department of Immunology and Animal Sciences, Puleva Biotech SA, Granada, Spain.
- Restani P. Goat Milk Allerginicity. Department of Pharmacological Sciences, State University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
- Hill DJ, Heine RG, Cameron DJS, Francis DE, Bines JE. The natural history of intolerance to soy and extensively hydrolyzed formula in infants with multiple food protein intolerance (MFPI). J Pediatr. 135:118–121.
- Razafindrakoto O, Ravelomanana N, Rasolofo A, Rakotoarimanana RD, Gourgue P, Coquin P, Briend A. Goat's milk as a substitute for cow's milk in undernourished children: a randomized double-blind clinical trial. Pediatrics. 1994 Jul;94(1):65-9.
- Park YW, Juárez M, Ramos M, Haenlein GFW. Physico-chemical characteristics of goat and sheep milk. Small Ruminant Research. March 2007;68(1):88-113.
- Jasin´ska B. The comparison of pepsin and trypsin action on goat, cow, mare and human caseins. Rocz Akad Med Bialymst 1995;40(3):486-93.
- Martinez-Ferez A, Rudolff S, Guadix A, et al. Goat’s milk as a natural source of lactose-derived oligosaccharides: isolation by membrane technology. Int Dairy J 2005;16(2):173–81.
- Zulak IM, Patton S, Hammerstedt RH. Adenosine Triphosphate in Milk. J. Dairy Sci. 1976; 59:1388-1391.
- Welch AA, Mulligan A, Bingham SA, Khaw KT. Urine pH is an indicator of dietary acid-base load, fruit and vegetables and meat intakes: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Norfolk population study. Br J Nutr. 2008 Jun;99(6):1335-43.
- Lara-Villoslada F, Debras E, Nieto A, Concha A, Gálvez J, López-Huertas E, Boza J, Obled C, Xaus J. Oligosaccharides isolated from goat milk reduce intestinal inflammation in a rat model of dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis. Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;25(3):477-88.