Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries and occurs when fat, cholesterol and other substances build up in the walls of arteries. Over time, this produces blocking of the arteries and can cause serious problems throughout the body.
The rise in popularity of donkey milk
Although donkeys played an important role in European history and were key to everyday life up until the Industrial Revolution, the advent and widespread use of machinery very quickly relegated the donkey to relative oblivion. Donkey milk is often remembered because Cleopatra allegedly bathed in it to keep her skin smooth and perfect.
However, since 1975, cow milk consumption has dropped 25% and the market for plant-based milk (soy, almond, hemp and flax) and other such milk substitutes (including donkey milk) has surged almost 11% since 1999.
What is it about donkey milk?
It has been found that donkey milk is the best substitute for human milk for its lactose, protein, mineral, and omega-3 fatty acid content.
Ruminants – cows, goats, sheep – have more than one stomach, so the protein gets transformed, and at the end of the digestion process it’s not the same as at the beginning. The protein in donkey milk is the most similar to the protein in human breast milk, helping it be absorbed and used as efficiently as possible by the body, and reducing the likeliness of food intolerance or allergies.
The effect of milk and colostrum from donkeys has been evaluated on the function of human blood cells (PBMCs), and has been shown to reduce the plaque that forms on the interior of arteries, thus reducing atherosclerosis.
The science bit – take a deep breath!
Milk induced predominantly more Immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses, while colostrum induced more Immunoglobulin A (IgA) responses – IgG and IgA are both important antibodies that help us fight infection and disease. Furthermore, both milk and colostrum induced expression of CD25 (used to track disease progression) and CD69 (a signal-transmitting receptor in lymphocytes).
The ability to induce release of interleukins (IL-12, IL-1 beta and IL-10) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha was confined only to milk, while colostrum was devoid of this capacity. Finally, both colostrum and milk induced nitric oxide release (which is considered important for regulating disease), but milk exhibited a greater capacity than colostrum in nitric oxide generation.
Essentially, these immunological activities exerted by both milk and colostrum from donkeys may be useful in the treatment of human immune-related diseases, such as atherosclerosis.
In particular, nitric oxide induction by donkey’s milk may be very useful in the prevention of atherosclerosis, being a strong vasodilator and an effective antimicrobial agent, since pathogens and / or their products may play a role in hardening of the arteries.