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Milk is an indispensable part of the Indian diet. Whether you like it warm, cold or with added flavours, milk sure has several health benefits. It is important to consume milk in order to meet the nutritional requirements of the body and to have optimal body functions.

Milk has all the essential nutrients required to build stronger bones. Further, it reduces the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. Researchers even say that drinking milk reduces the risk of several types of cancers. While drinking milk is important for everyone, it is all the more important for infants.

Now, the debate is which milk to drink: cow’s milk or goat’s milk? Most of you may be consuming cow’s milk each day but are you aware of the health benefits of goat’s milk? Yes, goat milk has several advantages. Read on to explore.

  1. Goat milk nutrition
  2. Goat milk benefits
  3. How to drink goat milk
  4. Goat milk side effects

According to USDA, 1 cup of goat milk contains:

Being a rich source of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and calcium, goat milk has several important health benefits, which will be discussed in this section.

  1. Goat milk for weight loss
  2. Goat milk for a better digestion
  3. Goat milk for diabetes
  4. Goat milk for bone health
  5. Goat milk for rheumatoid arthritis
  6. Goat milk prevents cancer
  7. Goat milk for infants

Goat milk for weight loss

Weight issues are very common in the modern world. While having an overall calorie deficit is an ideal approach to weight loss, this cannot be achievable until you manage your hunger pangs. Consumption of satiety increasing foods is one way of dealing with hunger while maintaining an overall calorie deficit. These foods help in making you feel full for a longer time.

High protein content and an effective nutritional composition of goat’s milk, having all the essential fatty acids, makes it a satiety promoting food.

Researchers have demonstrated that goat milk offers a better satiety index than the conventional cow milk. It also has an appetite suppressant potential allowing you to cut down on extra calories. However, this study was conducted on 33 healthy participants and only recorded subjective desires to eat. Differences in weight or BMI were not recorded.

But, research evidence also states that goat milk has lower total solids and fats when compared to cow or buffalo milk, so, it may be a healthier addition to your diet. Its specific effect on reduction in weight and BMI is, however, unclear, although it has been evidenced in several in vivo animal studies. It is, thus, recommended to include goat milk in your breakfast routine for the best results.

Goat milk for a better digestion

The composition of goat milk is slightly different than cow’s milk in that it has shorter chains of fatty acids and a much smaller size of fat globules. This means that fat is more widely dispersed in goat’s milk than in the cow’s. It is also more alkaline than cow’s milk. These factors collectively contribute to a better digestibility of goat milk.

It also has lower levels of alpha-1-casein, which make it more similar to human milk and thus more easily acceptable by the body. Not just milk, even the curd formed from goat’s milk is light and less dense making it more easily and quickly digestible.

So, if you suffer from digestive problems, substituting your regular cup of cow milk with goat milk and your usual curd with goat curd may be helpful.

However, no clear nutritional advantage has been observed with this substitution, neither has this substitution been of use in those who are allergic to milk. But, some studies suggest that goat milk can be used to treat allergies with cow milk. So, you may like to visit your doctor before making a substitution.

Goat milk for diabetes

Drinking milk is important for your health. Opting for goat milk is even more beneficial. Studies show that goat milk is associated with a lower risk of diabetes. This is due to the presence of alpha 2 beta-casein rather than the alpha1 variety present in cow’s milk. A 2003 research demonstrated that alpha 1 beta casein is a trigger to diabetes and many other health issues. Being naturally lagging in the alpha 1 type, goat milk is ideal for the prevention of diabetes.

Goat milk for bone health

One of the most important reasons we drink milk is to have stronger bones, isn’t it? Calcium is essential to maintain the structure and integrity of the bones and its deficiency is associated with poor bone health.

Studies have found that goat milk has a higher calcium content than cow’s milk, which is why it is better for your bones. But is the research in favour of goat milk just limited to that? Certainly not.

Iron deficiency anaemia is associated with bone demineralisation. Chronic deficiency of iron increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone resorption. An animal-based research has demonstrated that dietary supplementation with goat milk aided the recovery of bone resorption. It also led to the stabilisation of the rate of bone turnover. In addition, a higher calcium content was observed in bones and an increase in the iron content was also observed in the group which was fed with goat milk as compared to cow milk.

A better recovery in iron stores aided by the consumption of goat milk can be attributed to the finding that consumption of goat milk led to lesser calcium-iron interactions. This cannot be achieved with the help of additional supplementation of calcium, because it would lead to the depletion of iron stores. So, it can be ascertained that the consumption of goat milk is more beneficial than the consumtion of cow’s milk and even calcium supplementation for the bones.

Goat milk for rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder characterised by the inflammation of multiple joints in the body. It is an extremely painful condition. Individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis often suffer intense pain and stiffness of the joints. They even have a higher risk of osteoporosis, which means that their bones become less dense and are more prone to fractures.

Researchers say that drinking goat milk can be helpful in such cases, particularly in the avoidance of osteoporosis. A study conducted on 42 patients affected with rheumatoid arthritis evidenced that daily administration of 400 ml goat’s milk along with drug therapy and other measures to avoid osteoporosis had a positive impact on improving bone metabolism.

Goat milk prevents cancer

Milk is a physiological fluid, which has a high nutrient content and is important for body functioning. Now we know that goat milk is healthier, but, has it something more to offer?

In addition to the several health benefits, goat milk helps in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. This is supported by sufficient research evidence. An in vivo animal study done to compare the effects of goat milk and soy milk on the levels of tumour marker enzymes responsible for the process of carcinogenesis proved goat milk to be a better alternative.

Despite the high antioxidant activity of soy milk, which is believed to inhibit the process of carcinogenesis, goat milk has been found to be a better alternative. Researchers postulated that certain components of the human diet have the potential to increase the risk of cancer, while others may aid in its prevention. They said that milk fat helps in reducing the risk of chemically induced tumours and cancers. It also helped in reducing the severity of cancer.

It is believed that goats are able to selectively extract potential anti-cancerous agents from its feed, like beta-carotene, beta ionine, etc from their feed and transfer it to milk, which is then consumed by humans. This is the mechanism by which it functions as an anticancerous agent.

Researchers have concluded that individuals who have a diet rich in milk and dairy products had a diminished activity of the tumour agents. From this study, researchers evidenced that goat milk worked as an anticancerous agent in the prevention of hepatocarcinogenesis in animal models. So, goat milk may be a healthy inclusion in your diet offering more than just stronger bones. However, sufficient human based researchers will help in a better analysis of this claim.

Goat milk for infants

Milk is required for the process of growth and the development of a healthy bone structure, which lays down a strong foundation for a lifetime. This is why drinking milk is more important for infants than it is for adults. But, what if cow milk does not suit the baby? Chances are that goat milk may be a suitable alternative in this case, although that is not an affirmation.

Several researchers have demonstrated that individuals who manifest an allergy to cow milk are usually tolerable to goat’s milk. This can be attributed to its lower lactose content of goat milk when compared to the other varieties of milk. However, another set of studies say that if the baby is lactose intolerance or has a specific allergic reaction to milk, it is possible that even the substitution with goat’s milk will not help. This is because the quality of proteins present in both these types of milk is quite similar.

Despite the absence of substantial research evidence, you can use goat milk as an alternative to cow milk for your baby and check if it suits. But, you must first consult with the paediatrician or your family doctor to rule out serious health concerns in the baby.

Also, you do not need to worry about the nutritional composition of the milk and its effect on the growth of your baby. This is because goat milk has a very high nutritional content and researchers have even said that formulas based on goat milk have a better influence on growth and development. In fact, animal studies have found the procurement of better immunity with the consumption of goat milk.

It is important to boil goat milk before drinking to avoid the risk of illnesses and infections. It is important to choose pasteurised goat milk and then boil it before drinking to ensure that all the harmful microorganisms have been killed.

Before giving goat milk to infants, you need to ensure the following:

  • The milk is boiled and pasteurised
  • Milk should be coming in from a reliable source or dairy
  • Milking animal must have been tested for infections like tuberculosis and brucellosis
  • Milking should be done in a hygienic environment
  • Goat milk should be diluted to three-quarters of its strength with the help of water
  • Undiluted milk is unsafe for infants
  • Infants below the age of 6 months must not be given goat milk even in its undiluted form
  • Breastfeeding is only ideal for such young infants

Despite the many health benefits, goat milk is bound to have some side effects, especially if consumed raw. Following are the side effects of consuming raw goat milk:

Consumption of raw milk is likely to be a cause of hospitalisation due to the aforementioned risks. In severe cases, it even holds the risk of fatality. So, it is best to refrain from the use of raw milk. Raw goat milk is a host of several microorganisms, which can be pathogenic to humans. So, the health of the cattle, status of milk pasteurisation and hygiene of the farm must be taken care of.

Due to the risk of allergic reactions, goat milk or goat milk formulas are not recommended in infants. It must also be avoided by lactose intolerants and those allergic to milk.

Further, goat milk is rich in fats and cholesterol and excessive consumption can contribute to weight gain and high cholesterol levels.

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References

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