Sunday, December 19, 2010

Processed and altered humanmilk

Pasteurization sterilizes liquids. It kills, inactivates pathogens. Donor milk banking processes their donor milk by pasteurization. Mothers who are hiv-positive in Africa and want to breastfeed are encouraged to pasteurize their breastmilk. Safety is supposedly the issue. We do this with mass production of cow milk, wines/beer, etc. And few people think twice about it. The US is a germ-phobic society. We have anti-bacterial soaps. In fact its hard to find a soap that isn't anti-bacterial. The belief is centered on all bacteria being bad, dangerous. We are just beginning to understand that not all bacteria is bad, that we need certain bacteria in our guts to protect us. Babies born by c-section in sterile environments and bottlefed are more at risk for infections. Life is not sterile. Sterile is dead. Humanity would not have survived this long, if we could only survive in a sterile environment. Yet the reality is that people die of infections and that some pathogens can and do overwhelm the human body. Why? Is health a matter of keeping clean and using antibacterial soaps in our pockets? Aren't hospitals the cleanest places in town? Or they should be. Yet we knew that they are the repositories of some of the more virulent pathogens. So why are hospitals so full of germs despite their use of antibacterials and sterilization procedures? I don't want to go to a hospital that is sloppy in its procedures to prevent disease. I appreciate the health care professional who washes his/her hands before coming near me but isn't the situation in hospitals very different? Hospitals are not homes. We seem safest living in our own germs.

Besides pathogens, pasteurization of milk kills enzymes. In human milk one enzyme of enormous interest is bile salt-activated lipase (only found in humans, gorillas, cats and dogs not cows) "The test for successful pasteurization is absence of enzymes." It denatures milk proteins and alters amino acids. It promotes rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids and destruction of vitamins.
dairying and cheesemaking of goat milk/pasteurization

What is lost through heat treatment (Flash pasteurization and the Holding Method) and refrigeration/freezing of human milk is shown in a wonderful website at LaTrobe University by Dr. John T. May-retired. The percentage of activity remaining for various antimicrobial factors in human milk is presented in chart form. There is some loss in heating with Secretory IgA but not with refrigeration/freezing. Only 40 percent activity remains for lactoferrin using the Holding method of pasteurization. The lipases show major destruction of activity using heat treatment and even refrigeration and freezing shows a major reduction in activity.

Infants have lower levels of digestive enzymes than children or adults. An infant's pancreas is not fully functioning. The enzymes in breastmilk compensates for this problem. The infant's gut is immature making the infant very vulnerable to pathogens that can penetrate the epithelium, risking infection and allergies. Raw human milk/breastfeeding has the enzymes and the IgA to offer more protection than pasteurized human milk.

In 1987, a patent was filed called, "Dietary compositions and methods using bile salt-activated lipase," # 4944944. Inventors are Jordon Tang and Chi-Sun Wang and the owner of this patent is Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. From the abstract, "Dietary compositions, especially cow's milk-based infant formulas, are fortified with bile salt-activated lipase. Methods are provided for feeding newborn and premature infants which include administration of bile salt-activated lipase to increase fat digestion and therefore growth rate."

These inventors want to use a human milk component, an enzyme to promote growth and increase fat digestion in formula-fed and preterm infants. The inventors have a later patent using a recombinant human bile salt-activated lipase. This critical enzyme is killed in pasteurization of donor milk. So I am sure at some point we will have to add this back. Kinda like the refinement of grains. We take the bran and the germ out of flour to make it more acceptable and then have to add it back (adding vitamins and nutrients). AstraZeneca AB of Sweden also has a patent on human bile salt-stimulated lipase obtained from transgenic sheep for "improvement of the utilization of dietary lipids in preterm born infants." It is called, "Expression methods," patent #6525241 by inventors Dalrymple et al filed in 1999. I am not sure if any of these US patents became actual products. But I am fascinated by the adulteration of human milk. We have to tinker with everything because what nature provides isn't good enough. So we process the food, the fluid and components are destroyed. But industry always finds a way to add it back into the product. Although it isn't quite the original component and currently the rage is to genetically engineer everything. Refining a food brings a whole host of new problems. How realistic are our fears regarding raw human milk? Raw goat's milk is difficult if not impossible to obtain in many parts of the USA. Many seekers of better health maintain that raw goat's milk is better for you because the enzymes are not destroyed. We seem to be following the same path with human milk because of our fear of disease. Who is right and who is wrong? Is the answer far more complex than believing raw human milk is always safe or believing that raw human milk is always unsafe?
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

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