Let’s remember a certain “father” from our past, our very distant past, and his contribution to well being. This legendary patriarch is Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine who lived over 2,400 years ago. Now, when a man has been deemed the “father” of an entire hemisphere, it would be wise to listen to what he has to say. Here are the words of Hippocrates, “If you want to be well, get a goat and live on the south side of the mountain.”
Even 400 years before Christ walked the earth, Hippocrates was able to see the incredible effect goat milk had on the human body. However, it doesn’t take a logistics genius to see that getting your own goat and living on the south side of a mountain probably isn’t going to fit into the lives of most people. This is precisely why goat milk and goat milk products are such ideal ingredients for countless nutritional whole foods and for people on-the-go who don't have a goat of their own.
Goat milk can essentially be broken down into several different beneficial parts or constituents. Picture a 12-ounce glass of goat milk. Around 10 of those ounces would be merely water but 12 grams found in that glass would be a combination of a powerful muscle builder known as whey protein and a muscle sustainer known as casein protein (1). Also found in this glass of milk would be 14 grams of cream also known as fat. Fat is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the cream of goat milk is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acid Alpha-linoleic acid. Omega-3s have been shown to fight diabetes and boost cardiovascular health (2). Furthermore, 2.8 grams of this glass of milk is made of minerals. This number might sound small, but in the mineral world where things are measured in milligrams and micrograms, 2.8 grams actually makes goat milk a mineral powerhouse. Goat milk is packed with both macro and trace minerals such as potassium, selenium, calcium, phosphorus and even sodium (more in a bit on why that is actually a good thing). From a mere glass of goat milk comes several powerful nutritionals that make this liquid more than just a breakfast drink for hippies.
Goat Milk Protein: More than a Muscle Builder
Protein is the substance that makes up virtually every aspect of the human body. Many organs such as the brain, heart, lungs, muscle, liver and skin are made almost entirely of protein. In fact, there are around 200,000 different protein sequences throughout the body. Needless to say, protein is nothing less than essential for all aspects of life.
An important concept to note, however, is that not all proteins are created equal. Far from it, proteins vary with a wide array of quality. In fact, an entire rating system has been created to categorize the biological value of protein in different substances. For example, the BV (biological value) considers an egg to be a “perfect” protein and assigns to it the value of 100. Other proteins like beef, soy, and wheat are 80, 70 and 50, respectively. This means that the protein in an egg is almost completely utilized by the body, while the protein in beef, soy, and wheat, is utilized to a much lesser degree. To give this some perspective, a leather boot is actually quite high in protein, but the biological value of this protein is very low, meaning that virtually none of it can actually be utilized or assimilated by the digestive tract.
So what does this have to do with goat milk protein? The protein found in goat milk is comprised of casein and whey protein. Both proteins register extremely high on the biological value scale. In fact, while casein is a high 94, whey protein actually registers “off the chart” at 104! This means that this protein is highly digestible and absorbable.
One of the most wonderful characteristics of goat milk protein is its digestibility. When ingested, the protein forms a very soft bolus (ball) that is digested with ease by the stomach and small intestine (3). Contrast this with the rock-like curd formed by cow milk protein, and it is not hard to see the benefit to your digestive tract that comes from goat milk protein.
Additionally, goat milk protein is virtually allergy-free. Such is not the case in cow milk protein, which has roughly 20 different allergens (4), all of which can be targeted by the body as foreign invaders and cause both mild and severe allergic reactions. One particular allergen, alphas1 casein is found in large amounts in cow milk and can cause all manner of side effects ranging from hives and diarrhea to anaphylactic shock! Goat milk doesn’t contain these allergens and is a perfect option for those seeking alternatives to mainstream supplements.
Goat Milk Minerals: Solid as a Rock!
Goat milk is often viewed as being a good source of calcium, but not much else when it comes to minerals. Nothing could be further from the truth. In all actuality, goat milk is an elixir, literally brimming with over 20 different bio-active minerals. The phrase “bio-active” refers to the fact that minerals from a food source are biologically active nutrients. This is different from those that have been dug out of the ground or synthesized in a laboratory. Food-based minerals are key in nutrition. When the minerals in goat milk are carefully extracted and dried, the resulting concentrated mineral powder is teeming with bio-active potassium, magnesium, calcium, and even sodium.
Bio-active sodium is vital for life. This sodium, found in goat milk, is a crucial mineral, enabling healthy cell performance, proper neurological function, and a host of other systems and processes. Consider the relationship sodium has with amino acids and the importance becomes quite clear. Amino acids (building blocks of protein) can only be absorbed through the small intestine via a sodium-dependent transport system. Without sodium binding to a carrier, certain amino acids can not be absorbed. The concentrated minerals in goat milk can help in proper amino acid absorption.
Potassium is another key mineral that is involved in a multitude of systemic roles such as cellular and electrical function. Potassium helps to regulate acid-base balance as well as water hydration levels. Potassium deficiency is quite common and symptoms can manifest as fatigue, depression, hypertension (high blood pressure) and muscle weakness. Potassium is found in a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, most Americans do not eat enough of these and suffer the consequences. Potassium is the number one mineral found in goat milk. In fact, only 2 tablespoons of this concentrated mineral powder contains over 10 times the potassium found in the “supplements” lining store shelves (5)! Lastly, the incredible mineral levels in goat milk make for a highly alkaline food. This helps keep the intestinal tract from becoming overly acidic which can translate into a healthier life.
Goat Milk Cream: See the Good side of Fat!
While the debate rages on about the dangers of too much fat in the diet, remember this, fat is the key to life. Fat is critical in absorbing and storing vitamins, regulating natural hormone levels, and protecting internal organs. Nutritionally, things can become unhealthy when one eats too much fat or the wrong kind. Conveniently, goat milk cream is high in medium chain fatty acids as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are helpful in fighting diabetes and boosting cardiovascular health (7). Another beneficial use of goat milk cream is in soaps, lotion, and shampoo, as the properties are especially helpful in maintaining skin and hair health. Keep in mind that these fatty acids are volatile and will spoil quickly if not dried and preserved properly so pick a reputable company known for low processing techniques.
It may come as a surprise to some readers to learn of the wonderful attributes that goat milk and goat milk products have to offer. The protein found in goat milk is of the highest quality and digestibility. The bio-active minerals deliver alkalizing and fortifying effects to the body. Even the fat has tremendously healthy characteristics. Goat milk truly is one of nature’s perfect foods. Celebrate the fathers in your life and try out this (paraphrased) advice of Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine; “If you want to be well, eat goat milk products and get plenty of sunshine.”
Joe Stout is the president of Mt. Capra.
2. Inga Thorsdottir Ph.D., Jeremy Hill Ph.D. and Alfons Ramel Ph.D. Omega-3 fatty acid supply from milk associates with lower type 2 diabetes in men and coronary heart disease in women. Preventative Medicine Volume 39, Issue 3, September 2004, Pages 630-4
3. G.F.W. Haenlein Goat milk in human nutrition Small Ruminant Research 51 (2004), 155–163
4. El-Agamy EI. The challenge of cow milk protein allergy. Small Ruminant Research. March 2007;68(1):64-72.
5. 2 tablespoons of concentrated goat milk minerals contains over 1000 mg of potassium while potassium supplements lining store shelves are, by law, not allowed to contain more than 99 mg potassium per serving. This “pill form” of potassium is not food based either and therefore not truly bio-active.
6. Young W. Park Relative Buffering Capacity of Goat Milk, Cow Milk, Soy-Based Infant Formulas, and Commercial Nonprescription Antacid Drugs, J Dairy Sci 74: 3326-3333.
7. Inga Thorsdottir Ph.D., Jeremy Hill Ph.D. and Alfons Ramel Ph.D., Omega-3 fatty acid supply from milk associates with lower type 2 diabetes in men and coronary heart disease in women. Preventative Medicine Volume 39, Issue 3, September 2004, Pages 630-4