What is it about Pasteurized Milk that Causes Constipation?
University and Health Department researchers from Australia have proven that homogenized, pasteurized milk produces constipation. Meanwhile other studies show that dairy with probiotics can actually relieve constipation.
The researchers tested 13 children in one trial and 39 children in a second trial. The average age of the children was about 6 and a half year’s old. All the children were diagnosed with having chronic constipation (diagnosis = Chronic Functional Constipation).
In the first trial, nine children were given soy milk instead of cow’s milk and the others continued the cow’s milk. This followed a period where any milk was given (washout period).
All the children given the soymilk all had a resolution of their constipation. This also occurred in the washout period.
These results were confirmed using a crossover design, which allowed each group to reverse their protocol after another washout period.
The second trial also tested for casein type – using A1 milk or A2 milk type casein. The results determined that there was little difference between the two milks given – they both showed increased constipation compared to the washout period – when milk was withheld from their diets.
Due to the casein study, the researchers concluded that there was something else other than casein that was causing the constipation. In their conclusion they wrote:
“The results of Trial 1 demonstrate an association between constipation and cow’s milk consumption while trial 2 failed to show an effect from type of casein. Some other component in cow’s milk common to both A1 and A2 milk may be causing a problem in these susceptible children. Investigations into the immunological or biochemical mechanism occurring in CFC are required, including investigations of the intolerance reactions and how they affect nerves in the gastrointestinal tract.”
Other studies prove fermented dairy relieves constipation
Meanwhile, a number of studies have shown that dairy-fermented probiotics actually can relieve constipation.
In one, from Emma Children’s Hospital/Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, twenty children with an average age of a little over seven years old found that a daily dose of dairy-fermented Bifidobacterium breve significantly increased bowel movements and significantly decreased abdominal pain among the children.
Another children’s study – this on also twenty constipated children – those given a daily mixture of probiotics including Bifidobacteria bifidum, B. infantis, B. longum, Lactobacilli casei, L. plantarum and L. rhamnosus, also experienced significantly increased bowel movements.
In addition to this, several studies on adults have found that yogurt or milk fermented with probiotics can significantly reduce constipation.
Because breast milk and raw milk of various types naturally contain probiotics, and since constipation has been specifically connected with drinking homogenized, pasteurized milk, we must assume that whatever the element is within homogenized, pasteurized milk that is causing the constipation, it is being neutralized by the probiotics within raw milks and yogurt products.
In fact, there is significant evidence to suspect that beta-lactoglobulin may be the culprit from milk that produces the constipation – although we probably still cannot completely eliminate the effects of casein. In fact, the A1 or A2 casein groups in the Australian study does not prove that casein is not involved. The researchers noted this clearly in their discussion:
“It seems that it is not the β casein moiety, in cow’s milk that is causing constipation or if it is, it is not the section that differs between the A1 and A2 variants.”
And there is clear evidence that both beta-lactoglobulin and casein are both neutralized – actually hydrolyzed – by probiotic species. Gut microorganisms break these proteins down by secreting enzymes that break them into amino acids that can be absorbed into the body and utilized as healthy nutrients.
This means that these two large proteins – not only suspected as culprits in constipation, but also in many food allergies – are largely neutralized by probiotics. This explains why probiotic-supplemented milks or yogurts are curative for constipation.
And this is why raw milk that has been properly tested will not have the same effects as homogenized, pasteurized milk. When milk is pasteurized, the probiotics within the milk are killed and thus not given a chance to continue feeding on the milk sugars. They also are not allowed to neutralize the milk proteins such as casein and beta-lactoglobulin.
Note: Choose raw milk suppliers carefully. Make sure their raw milk is properly tested and within date code limits.
Crowley ET, Williams LT, Roberts TK, Dunstan RH, Jones PD. Does milk cause constipation? A crossover dietary trial. Nutrients. 2013 Jan 22;5(1):253-66.
Mugie SM, Di Lorenzo C, Benninga MA. Constipation in childhood. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Aug 2;8(9):502-11.
Vandenplas Y, De Greef E, Devreker T, Veereman-Wauters G, Hauser B. Probiotics and prebiotics in infants and children. Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2013 Jun;15(3):251-62.
Tabbers MM, de Milliano I, Roseboom MG, Benninga MA. Is Bifidobacterium breve effective in the treatment of childhood constipation? Results from a pilot study. Nutr J. 2011 Feb 23;10:19.
Bekkali NL, Bongers ME, Van den Berg MM, Liem O, Benninga MA. The role of a probiotics mixture in the treatment of childhood constipation: a pilot study. Nutr J. 2007 Aug 4;6:17.
Picard C, Fioramonti J, Francois A, Robinson T, Neant F, Matuchansky C. Review article: bifidobacteria as probiotic agents — physiological effects and clinical benefits. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Sep 15;22(6):495-512.
Pescuma M, Espeche Turbay MB, Mozzi F, Font de Valdez G, Savoy de Giori G, Hebert EM. Diversity in proteinase specificity of thermophilic lactobacilli as revealed by hydrolysis of dairy and vegetable proteins. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2013 Jul 9.
Adams C. Natural Solutions for Food Allergies and Food Intolerances: Scientifically Proven Remedies for Food Sensitivities. Logical Books, 2012.