Raw Milk Cheese
The rewards of making your own cheese are by far worth the effort, and it's easier than you may think. It is thought that cheese was first discovered around 8,000 BC. Milk curds were strained and salt was added to help with preservation. This gave birth to what we now know as "cheese." When I was a little girl, maybe around six years old, one of my favorite excursions was going to a cheese store with my dad. He would prop me up on barrels in the store and the owners of the shop would feed me all kinds of cheese and ask me which ones I liked. They were always surprised when I liked the really strong-tasting cheeses. My dad would laugh and buy me my favorite one wrapped up in the white parchment paper to take home and enjoy later. From that day to this I have had a love affair with cheese. Flash forward many years later and probiotic foods changed not only my health but my life, and I was on a never-ending search to find foods that were filled with probiotics and that included cheese. Most cheese in the markets has been pasteurized making them devoid of the good bacteria I love so much.
Pasteurization and Raw Milk Cheese
Pasteurization was invented to kill pathogens in milk and subsequently in cheese too. But it also impacts the microorganisms responsible for complex tastes and aromas and removes the good bacteria that help those bugs in your gut thrive. The dangers associated with unpasteurized milk — such as salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria — aren't what they used to be if the milk is handled correctly. Raw milk cheese is waging a comeback because science has progressed. Raw milk cheese abounds in enzymes that help to digest the fats and proteins. When the food you eat has abundant bacteria and enzymes, then the digestive system is not overtaxed. Raw milk cheeses are showing up everywhere. They're full of flavor and raw milk cheese tastes so much better that you don't need as much to feel satisfied. In March 2009, U.S. News & World Report stated that consumption of raw milk, and cheese made from it, may significantly lower the symptoms of allergic reactions such as asthma, hay fever, and eczema. This is due to the many good bacteria in these foods. Cheese made from raw milk is aged a minimum of 60 days by current law, and that makes a big difference in the safety of these cheeses.
Vitamin K2 - The X Factor
Cheese is loaded with Vitamin K2 which has been referred to as the X factor by Dr. Weston Price. He has been called the “Isaac Newton of Nutrition.” He traveled the world in the early 20th century studying the relationship between diet and disease in different populations. He was on a constant search to find the causes of dental decay and physical degeneration that he observed in his dental practice. His findings discovered that the non-industrial diets were high in some unidentified nutrient which seemed to provide protection against tooth decay and many chronic diseases. He referred to this mystery nutrient as “Activator X” (the X factor) which is now believed to have been vitamin K2. 1
Most have believed that the benefits of vitamin K2 are limited to its role in blood clotting and that vitamins K1 and K2 are simply different forms of the same vitamin—with the same functions. However, the role of vitamin K2 in the body extends far beyond clotting and may help in the prevention of chronic diseases. Vitamin K2 has many functions not associated with K1 - so many that researchers insist that K1 and K2 are best seen as two different vitamins entirely. Most people are deficient and not getting enough Vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 is called menaquinone (MK) and is predominantly of microbial origin. The K2 is produced by gut bacteria in your large intestine and many researchers suspect that broad-spectrum antibiotics contribute to a K2 deficiency. Cultured foods such as sauerkraut, cheese, and natto contain substantial amounts of vitamin K2 and the body easily absorbs what it needs thanks to the microbes in these foods. Vitamin K is also found in butter from cows who have grazed on grasses—especially wheatgrass and alfalfa - in a lush green state of growth. Commercial butter is not a significantly high source of vitamin K2.
K2 Health Benefits
- Vitamin K2 has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent 2 and it also protects against leukemia and might even be used as a treatment for leukemia in the future.3
- Vitamin K2 may help protect us from heart disease by reducing calcium deposits in the arteries. Some studies have even shown it can reverse arterial calcification. 4
- Vitamin K2 helps form strong bones and helps the skin stay healthy with the prevention of wrinkles, sagging skin, and varicose veins. Vitamin K2 is a necessity for vitamin A to do its job which is maintaining proper skin cell proliferation.
- Dr. Price talked extensively about the role of K2 in tooth health and helping to keep the teeth cavity resistant by helping dentin produce osteocalcin. Osteocalcin deposits calcium into the enamel.
- Brain health can improve with eating more vitamin K-rich foods. These foods have been shown to sharpen memory and stave off dementia in older adults. 5
- The immune system is greatly enhanced from Vitamin K2, specifically as it fights inflammation. It strengthens your immune cells, allowing you to fight off pathogens better. 6
It's clear that vitamin K plays an essential role in body function and I've seen it help my family tremendously - especially in our early days of eating cultured foods.
I have been making a lot of raw soft cheese for my ebook on soups, salads, and dressings. It's been a lot of fun and my refrigerator is stocked with homemade cheeses. I also want to share with you some of these probiotic raw cheeses that I know you will love and find easy to make. They will give you more access to K2 and all its benefits