|Image 1: Wolverine could be the only face of the "Got Milk" campaign who does not have to care about potential negative health effects of homogenized milk.|
Now even if we discard the potential negative effects of BXO, the results of a recently published paper from the Center of Specialized Nutrition in the Netherlands would still suggest that milk does at least lose some of it's beneficial health effects in the course of the homogenization process (Oosting. 2012).
Large and fluffy or small? That does ring a bell, doesn't it?
In their experiments the Dutch scientists fed mice infant formulas with either small or large phospholipid coated lipid droplets. Probably to the utmost satisfaction of Danone, the producer of the large lipid droplet formula (Nuturis) and sponsor of the study, the mice who received the regular formula with small lipid droplets were fatter and had compromised lipid and blood glucose levels (see figure 1), as well as pathologically increased leptin levels (not shown in figure 1).
So, if the bovine xanthine oxidase that's released during the homogenization process does not, as Ho & Clifford and other researchers argued in the late 1970s (Ho. 1977), pose a risk for heart disease, what about the structural changes in the lipid fraction of milk? Do we know anything about these at all and could they be the underlying cause of the increase in allergies, diabetes risk that have never been convincingly attributed to milk consumption in general or whole milk consumption in particular? Did we focus to much on the quantity and type of fat in the milk and overlooked its structural organization?
Though shalt not fix something that ain't broken!
In a 2007 review of the literature on the potential impact homogenized milk could have on our health, Mikalski discusses exactly this question: What's the physiological consequence of the physical "rupture of fat globules" which occurs during the heating and homogenization process and "creates a new interface" on the membrane of the fat globules so that "other surface active components" (Mikalski. 2007) will more or less randomly adsorb to the remnants and form a new structurally different membrane.
Homogenized, fat reduced zombie milk?
The degree of homogenization increases according to the pressure that's used to force the the hot milk between valve needle and seat of the homogenization machine, so that the aforementioned effects are particularly pronounced in the high-pressure homogenized milk (also "ultra-homogenized" milk). Accordingly even the last few "unwanted" (by the food industry) larger, intact fat globules that are left in the regular homogenized milk (figure 3, C) break apart.
What used to be a huge container-like fat molecule in the raw milk (figure 3, A), survived the pasteurization process relatively unharmed (figure 3, B) is now, after it has been pressed with 100MPa through the valve of the homogenization machine, nothing but a heap of very shelf-stable and non-clumping, highly convenient debris (figure 3, D) - awesome, right?
Bottom line: Aside from the disgusting taste of what we here in Germany call "H-Milch" ("h" as in "haltbar", which denotes the longer shelf-life) the structural changes and the potentially problematic downstream effects of the homogenization process, such asReferences
- a rise in potentially artherosclerotic free bovine xanthine oxidase, which would otherwise be "locked" in the the intact milk fat globule membrane (MFGM),
- the formation of new lipid layers from casein and other milk components and milk fat globule membrane fragments with potentially allergenic, and inflammatory properties,
- a decrease in curd formation / stability, an increase proteolysis and lipolysis (=digestion of the proteins and fats) and the subsequent increase in nutrient absorption and speed in the gastrointestinal tract with its potentially detrimental downstream effects on blood lipids, and
- the increased absorption of casein molecules and the loss of the beneficial health affects such as the anti-viral, antimicrobial, anabolic and gut protective effects that have been ascribed to the natural MFGM structure of milk
Apropos "high fat dairy", did I mention that the "bad high fat cheese" is not just almost always made from regular, non-homogenized milk (which is hard to get, these days, as even the cooled milk is routinely homogenized, so make sure to check the label), but that its consumption is also associated with a decreased risk of developing metabolic syndrome (Høstmark. 2011)? No... well, than that's even more food for thought ;-)
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- Ho C, Clifford A Bovine milk xanthine oxidase, blood lipids and coronary plaques in rabbits.J Nutr. 1977; 107, 758–766
- Høstmark AT, Tomten SE. The Oslo health study: cheese intake was negatively associated with the metabolic syndrome. J Am Coll Nutr. 2011 Jun;30(3):182-90.
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- Oosting A, Kegler D, Wopereis HJ, Teller IC, van de Heijning BJ, Verkade HJ, van der Beek EM. Size and Phospholipid Coating of Lipid Droplets in the Diet of Young Mice Modify Body Fat Accumulation in Adulthood. Pediatr Res. 2012 Jul 31.
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- Zamora A, Ferragut V, Guamis B, Trujillo AJ. Corresponding author contact informationChanges in the surface protein of the fat globules during ultra-high pressure homogenisation and conventional treatments of milk. Food Hydrocolloids. 2012; 21:1, 135–143.