Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
During the fermentation or curing of cheese a mixed group of microorganisms grows in the milk curd. Protein, fat, and carbohydrate are the major nutrients affected during the curing process. The protein portion of cheese is fermented to peptides, amines, indoles, skatole, and ammonia. The fat in cheese is hydrolyzed to irritating fatty acids, butyric, caproic, caprylic, and lower carbon chain fatty acids. The carbohydrate of milk, mainly lactose, is converted to lactic acid by putrefaction. Most of the products of fermentation are toxic and irritating, including the esters, the acids, and certain of the amines such as tyramine and nitrosamine.
A summary of the objectionable features of hard or ripened cheeses includes the following:
- The putrefactive process results in the production of amines, ammonia, irritating fatty acids (butyric, caproic, caprylic, etc.). The carbohydrate is converted to lactic acid. These are all waste products which cause irritation to the nerves and gastrointestinal tract.
- Migraine headaches can be caused by tyramine, one of the toxic amines produced in cheese.
- Certain of the amines can interact with the nitrates present in the stomach to form nitrosamine, a cancer producing agent.
- Intolerance to lactose, the chief carbohydrate of cheese and milk, is probably the most common food sensitivity in America.
- Rennet is used in the curdling of milk for cheese making. Rennet is obtained from the whole stomach lining of calves, lambs, kids, or pigs.
Our counsel has been a great blessing to us for many years. Think how much suffering has been avoided because we have had the counsel on cheese. “Cheese should never be introduced into the stomach.” CD 368. “Children are allowed to eat flesh meats, spices, butter, cheese, pork, rich pastries, and condiments generally…. These things do their work of deranging the stomach, exciting the nerves to unnatural action and enfeebling the intellect.” 3T 136.
“If milk is used, it should be thoroughly sterilized; with this precaution there is less danger of contracting disease from its use. Butter is less harmful when eaten on cold bread than when used in cooking; but, as a rule, it is better to dispense with it altogether. Cheese is still more objectionable; it is wholly unfit for food.” MH 302. “Some brought cheese to the meeting, and ate it; although new, it was altogether too strong for the stomach, and should never be introduced into it.” R&H, July 19, 1870.
Since cottage cheese and cream cheese are not “ripened” it would seem reasonable that these products could safely be used. They are safe, however, only if free from disease-producing organisms, heavy metals, detergents, antibiotics, cancer viruses, and other undesirable substances. In this day of expanding diseases in animals, and expanding processes of manufacture and marketing, it is unlikely that any dairy products can be considered safe. Furthermore, rennet, as mentioned in item 5 above, is sometimes used in the production of these cheeses to make a firmer coagulum. Certainly one may object to the use of pigs’ stomach lining for this purpose.