Today we’re going to talk about Goats. No not Serena Williams, Lin Manuel Miranda, Misty Copeland, or (and as a born and bred New Yorker it pains me to say) Tom Brady. No, we're talking about those cute little animals that your kids feed at petting zoos and every now and then show up in the news for being released in a park to keep the weeds in check. Goats are incredible animals, not just because they’re cute, can literally eat anything, and make all of our salads more delicious with their cheese, but because of something much deeper, scientific, and personal.
When my son Julian turned four-months he developed pretty severe eczema across much of his body. As you can imagine it was very stressful for us to see him in such discomfort and pain and not being able to do anything about it. I had a smooth pregnancy, did everything the “right way”, we even switched out every cleaning product in our house, and yet with zero family history here was our little boy with red itchy marks all over his body. So not willing to “just” put some steroid cream on it, we went deep into research to find ways to not only ease the symptoms but treat the core causes.
Over the next few months our son developed an insatiable appetite and was growing like a weed! I breastfed him as long as I could and pumped as much as I could give, he wanted more, even with the introduction of solids. It was time for formula. Now this was seven years ago and the formula market was far different than today, I was simply not happy with the options and frankly, neither was my son! He spit out the first formula he tried! We started importing grass-fed organic formula and it was a game-changer. Around this time a phenomenal integrative pediatric MD suggested that we reduce and eventually eliminate cow-based dairy from Julian’s diet and instead replace it with goat milk products. Not because cow-based products are bad, but because goat milk has been found to be less inflammatory and improve eczema symptoms. Seven years ago, this was not exactly mainstream thinking, eczema was treated solely topically even though it's caused by inflammation from within. At the time even the top European formula brands had limited to no goat milk options, and there was maybe one domestically produced one that our son couldn’t even bear to look at.
When we did switch him over to goat products it made a world of difference. Not only did he love the taste of high-quality goat milk, but there was a clear change in his condition. Now it’s not a cure-all, nothing is, but the impact was significant and speedy. Seeing the results first-hand I went down the rabbit hole to better understand the difference between goat and cow products. I always knew that goat was easier to digest but wanted to build a firmer grasp so I could educate my clients. I learned that goat milk is closer to human milk in its chemical make-up and the specific type of protein and fat in goat milk are smaller, easier to break down and lead to less irritation in the gut, allowing the body to absorb nutrients more efficiently. As we know gut health is vital to overall health and has a clear connection to autoimmune issues, of which eczema is one. Studies comparing the gut bacteria of children fed on human, goat, and cow milk found that the bacteria in children fed with human and goat milk are quite similar, while those fed on cow milk are markedly different. As you can imagine this was a total A HA moment for me, both as a concerned mom and dietitian.
Since then, it’s been amazing to see how my adult clients and their little ones have reacted to goat milk and the significant change it’s made in their health. For parents with little ones, I recommend Bubs Australia Goat Milk Formulas for infants and Aussie Bubs Goat Milk formula for toddlers. All of their products are Clean Label Purity Award recipients which means they’ve been tested for more than 400 contaminants and toxins and recognized for meeting the highest standards.
It took a while for us to figure what worked to minimize my son’s eczema, find the right professionals and doctors to support us in a way that was realistic and approachable. Cutting out dairy entirely out of my son’s diet wasn’t realistic nor necessary. Now, years later my son’s eczema is thankfully a thing of the past, but I am thankful for the work we put in years ago to get him to a healthier place today.
By Stephanie Middleberg, MS, RD
Founder of Middleberg Nutrition