Updated: Jan 27
no doubt about it that high fat, raw dairy products are super nutritional on the simple fact there is no processing going on here. straight from the source to plate/cup/bowl – sort of. you know what I mean.
this said, when doing a healthy based Paleo style diet, dairy is out the window so to speak and could we be missing out on some lovely nutrients by skipping this food source altogether or should we consider taking this on regularly or minimizing or leaving out?
primal times were likely such that we didn’t take on that much dairy product and has only really been prevalent and in our food system since the agricultural age around 10,000 years ago. to some we are still in the honeymoon stage when it comes to our biology accustoming to dairy intake to support a fully functioning body. so, to my mind, we haven’t evolved through heavy consumption of dairy and wasn’t part of our survival of the fittest regime and we can do just good without it. BUT, what we did do was whatever we hunted and killed, was that we ate the entire animal (yum) so it was very likely that we consumed milk by association of eating the entire thing through taking on the mammary glands, for instance. for context, this wasn’t sat on a shelf, in plastic bottles for some time and available at any time we wanted, before we indulged. it was scarce,
so, let’s get to it – if we are eating dairy then let’s tackle the best choices we should do:
raw milk, fermented, unpasteurized, unsweetened and high fat options are superior! these are from sources such as; ghee, butter, aged cheeses, cream, full fat yogurts and raw whole milk. near to its natural form as possible is the way to think and go here. oh, and grass-fed and organic, too – quality is way important! so much of our commercially available dairy products can contain (depending where you live) hormones, anti-biotics and pesticide content which we need to avoid, please.
raw milk is raw with no processing so massive nutritional content. fermented dairy products are a great source of probiotic so this is the healthy stuff for the gut – the good bacteria. fermentation also helps with those who have immune system problems or digestion and allergenic problems with dairy so may show up as a good option and solution for those who struggle to tolerate normal options.
with cheeses (I love cheese) it is certainly a ‘in moderation’ food in my eyes and when you need some, shop for the older aged stuff, become a cheese snob. this ensures the fermentation process is underway so may be a safer less problematic bet for you and as an added benefit, the process locks in quality fat, protein and is lower carby. also shop for goats or sheep cheese (I know, I thought the same) as these options will also be loaded with nutrients and may offer less of an offense to the internal system with a lower or no offering of the casein and lactose.
let’s look at casein and lactose as these are the little sods we need to consider.
as simple as possible, casein is a protein found in milk that for most of us, causes big problems in the digestion tank and certainly where existing gut issues prevail – like leaky gut syndrome (another blog). if you have any autoimmune conditions going on then you may really want to monitor your dairy consumption to see whether this is actually making things worse for you. a right little sod this protein.
lactose. lactose is basically a carbohydrate in milk that for most of us is very difficult to digest. digestion issues are as a result of what is called the lactase enzyme found in the body and as a general rule is that as we grow older, the production of this enzyme slows or vanishes. its concurrent with the need for milk (baby breastfeeding) as we enter adulthood and can take on and make our own choices for food and coupled with the lower need for growth and development. makes sense, primally and when i personally learnt this, the penny dropped. now, if you are in the lucky club and you still posses the lactase enzyme, then milk consumption may not present an issue for you. it’s believed that up to 70% of us adults are affected! don’t they tell you that at the supermarket?
right, we then we need to strongly consider and perhaps shy away from these variations:
pasteurized, skimmed, homogenized, low fat, no fat. you will see plenty of this stuff about.
with these options they are far from their natural state as we can possibly get and have been manipulated so much that they are also high in carbohydrates, sugars and insulin spiking content. the process of homogenization gets underway to ‘clean’ up our milk source to rid of the various bacteria, ends up leaving us with something that is not very much, well, raw dairy and likely does us more harm than better and so is served much better by leaving out the un-interfered bit, perhaps. but, who am i.
now, we are subconsciously programmed with certain messages when it comes to milk and our age old wisdom suggests milk is the only way for calcium and good old Vitamin D boosting properties – sound familiar? yes, it is an excellent source of calcium, but it is now largely understood that we consume too much calcium in the diet especially from milk and also alongside the evidence that recommended amounts are too high, anyway. additionally, too much calcium upsets absorption of magnesium in the gut as they compete in the same pathway and also causes an imbalance to other agents (vit d & vit k) in the body which otherwise would be strongly supporting good bone health. balance then. ummmm. another calcium depleting agent is the hormone cortisol and high levels can hinder the calcium uptake in the body so keeping the stress response in check could also prove to be a better way.
so then, when it comes to bone health, we need to look at modern science and not pluck out our memory bank of the 80s through TV commercial advertisements or the old doctors’ visits (no disrespects). vitamin d intake, through sun exposure primarily, management of stress is understood to be more critical than calcium alone, in looking after our bone health.
since being fortunate enough to obtain the lactase enzyme into adulthood through my DNA sweep testing, i do consume dairy and I love it since it doesn’t gift me too many issues below down in the digestion tank, but i do, in moderation. i like to think i reward myself with quality, nutritional animal-based food in its nearest to natural form as possibly possible – whole, raw, fermented. this said, i also possess a dirty MTFHR gene (…and another blog) so I do keep a watchful eye on my histamine intake so aged cheeses and fermented foods are culprits to aggravate with this and i sometimes notice nasal blockages intensify as a result of regular consumption of dairy – something to watch out for. so, when i go in, its mainly goat or sheep for the cheeses but hold your nose i would. for you, choose your dairy with care, in moderation and go organic and gold star for local, if you can. let us know how you get on.