Can Pasteurization Damage Your Health?


If you drink organic milk, eat high amounts of cheese, or consume whey protein regularly, you may want to stop and check the label. That’s because most organic milk and dairy products on the market are not just pasteurized, they are ultra-high-temperature (UHT) pasteurized.

There is a long list of all the ways organic dairy is better than conventional. If you can tolerate dairy, organic milk and cheese is preferable because it has:

  • Higher vitamin content
  • No hormones
  • No antibiotics
  • No GMO feed
  • No pesticide or herbicide residues
  • Cows are grass fed during grazing season
But there is ONE downside to organic dairy.

To extend the shelf life of organic milk, many brands use a form of pasteurization called ultra-high-temperature (UHT) pasteurization. It’s a form of milk you’ll want to avoid.

Why Avoid Ultra Pasteurization?

Most milk (or any perishable liquid) is pasteurized by heating to a temperature that kills off potentially harmful bacteria, making it safe to drink.

Conventional milk is typically pasteurized at a lower temperature (145 degrees F or 161 degrees F) over a longer time, killing off most bacteria, while leaving beneficial bacteria, vitamins and enzymes intact. This milk has a shelf life of just about a week to 10 days.

However many organic milk brands use an ultra-high-temperature (UHT) method which heats the milk to 280 degrees F for a minimum of 2 seconds. This high heat kills ALL bacteria, even the good ones. This milk can have a shelf life of months.

It also alters milk in such a way that it can cause damage to your health.

The high heat from UHT pasteurization:

  • kills off essential “good” bacteria (probiotics)
  • damages vitamins making them useless
  • denatures (breaks down) protein
  • destroys the naturally present enzymes that help your body digest milk

As a result, UHT milk is difficult for your body to digest, has fewer absorbable nutrients, and can cause health issues when consumed on a regular basis. You may also notice a difference in taste as UHT pasteurized milk can taste cooked or burnt.

Ultra Pasteurization and Leaky Gut Syndrome

Since UHT pasteurized milk can be hard for your body to digest, it can cause your digestive tract or gut to become inflamed. When your gut becomes inflamed, it causes your intestinal walls to become permeable, or leaky.

A leaky intestinal wall can allow undigested food and harmful microbes to freely enter your blood stream. This is what’s called leaky gut syndrome and it can lead to a wide range of health issues such as chronic fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, and a weakened immune system.

How to Find Better Dairy

There ARE steps you can take to get better milk. To protect yourself from the harmful effects of ultra pasteurization, seek out organic sources that use low-temp pasteurization or HTST. Check the label and the expiration date. A long expiration date is a sure sign of UHT.

These organic brands use both methods but DO have low-temp pasteurization available:

And these organic brands do NOT use UHT at all:

  •  Natural by Nature
  •  Whole Foods Milk Brand (365 Organic)
  •  Kalona Super Natural (only low temps used)

Another option is to purchase dairy from local farmers who pasture raise their cows and use low-temp pasteurization. Visit the EatWild site to search for local farms in your area.

With local farms and organic milk pasteurized at low temps you’ll be supporting farmers and animals while protecting your health at the same time.

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