The Milk Diet and Digestion

One of the most common questions I was asked on the milk diet was, “Well, how is your, um, digestion?” A lot of people seem to think the milk diet will ruin your digestion. But if you take into account the fact that breastfed infants are basically on an all milk diet for the first several months of their life, you have to wonder if maybe quality raw milk isn't your digestive system's worst enemy--in fact, it could be its best friend!

The original milk diet (or milk cure, as it was also known) was regularly prescribed for those with poor digestive health, and probably for very good reason. Raw milk is particularly digestible because it hasn’t been denatured by heat and other processing methods that can damage the structure of its nutrients and make them less available for utilization. So the plentiful valuable nutrients in raw milk can still be absorbed even by those with weak digestive systems (which might very well include anyone who has health problems according to some experts). Plus, the natural enzymes and beneficial bacteria present in raw milk may serve to balance gut flora and improve overall digestive health.

First of all, many of the digestive problems that sometimes occur on the milk diet can be resolved simply by drinking the milk the right way. (Read my post on that here.) I personally feel like taking the time to prepare and drink the milk properly prevented any of the bloating that is commonly experienced on the milk diet. I had very minor bloating on the first day or two of the diet and virtually none after that.

However, I was not able to eliminate the other common digestive disturbance on the milk diet: constipation. Excluding a mysterious day in the beginning of the diet on which I experienced diarrhea (I’m assuming it was some sort of detoxification effect), I spent most of my 23 days on the all milk diet looking forward to the return of normal bathroom activity, you could say.

As I mention in a previous post, I did take extra vitamin C and magnesium to move things along, but this was only mildly helpful. I was taking about 800 mg of magnesium citrate and 6,000 mg of vitamin C daily. Perhaps I could have mega-dosed on the magnesium to get a better result, but who knows?

The milk diet experts recommend enemas as the most common treatment for constipation. I did do a couple of these, but (perhaps out of sheer laziness) mostly I avoided them. I think now that was a mistake. Although I generally find enemas to be incredibly invasive and annoying, I think achieving some kind of regularity on the milk diet is important and may even have a lot to do with how much healing is achieved. So if regular enemas are necessary to achieve that, it may be well worth it.

Milk Diet As A Remedy For Chronic DiseaseAnother theory on bowel movements during the milk diet comes from Charles Porter, who said in his book, Milk Diet as a Remedy for Chronic Disease, that generally constipation means you’re not drinking enough milk and diarrhea means you’re drinking too much. I personally didn’t find that increasing my intake of milk affected my regularity, and drinking more than 4-5 quarts per day was not easy to begin with--so I’m not sure if that was my problem. Other experts say the fat content in the milk may cause constipation or diarrhea, but again, in my personal experience, varying the fat content in my milk did not seem to have a perceivable effect on my digestion. But both of these are worth considering to see if they help you achieve better results on the milk diet.

Other suggestions for improving digestion and bowel movements during the milk diet is to take a little fresh lemon juice before or after drinking a glass of milk, adding a little cooked fruit to the diet, or eating a couple of dates or prunes as needed. Taking fermented raw milk products may also be helpful (such as raw milk kefir or yogurt).

By the way: the moment I started eating other foods again, my digestion turned back to normal very quickly, so as far as I'm concerned there's no reason to believe the milk diet impairs digestion in the long run.

Fiber Menace: The Truth About the Leading Role of Fiber in Diet Failure, Constipation, Hemorrhoids, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease, and Colon Cancer (Volume 1)What about fiber supplements?

I personally do not endorse fiber supplements of any kind, even during the milk diet. Fiber can be quite aggravating to the gut, and I don’t buy into the modern theory the high-fiber diets are necessary or even wise. For more information, you might want to check out the book Fiber Menace by Konstantin Monastryrsky.

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