The consumption of dairy products have been one of those iffy topics for myself as of the last few years. I can agree that there are nutritional benefits of consuming dairy but on the same hand I can agree that we do not need these types of foods. I am not praising dairy and its consumption and I am not patronizing it and saying you should absolutely not eat it ever. I am just looking at it from both sides of the spectrum, just like I do with any other food.
Lets take a look at what may lead us to believe that we don’t need dairy. Can you name one other mammial that consumes milk after infancy? Humans are the only ones. However that does not make every human tolerant to doing so. Many humans, just like other animals, loose the enzyme to digest lactose after infancy and the dairy we consume is much different from your mothers breast milk. Most of the benefits of dairy is lost when it is pasteurized. When we pasteurize milk, bacteria is killed. However most of that bacteria is very useful and beneficial to your immensely important gut flora. Pasteurization of milk was introduced in order for the dairy industry to ship milk and insure that harmful bacteria would not form during transport in which the milk may be exposed to longer periods of non refrigerated temps. Pasteurized milk products contain rancid fats and oxidized cholesterol which are likely to aggravate casein (a protein in milk) related food sensitivity issues. To make matters worse, if you are consuming low fat pasteurized milk, you are consuming large amounts of oxidized cholesterol. This is because powdered, denatured whole milk is added in after cream is removed in order to add “Body” to the texture. Along with that, most commercial dairy products you consume are laced with hormones and antibiotics, since that is what the cows are being treated with in order to increase production. You in turn are consuming those nasty substances.
Now on to what is beneficial about dairy products. For one whole milk has a excellent ratio of carbs, fat, and protein needed for muscle recovery and repair after a hard workout. Certain products such as yogurt and kefir (if it is not pasteurized) contain tons of beneficial bacteria which your gut flora will strive on. Raw and organic pasture fed butte or ghee can be a especially rich source of vitamin A, CLA, and selenium.
Basically what it come down to is finding out;
1) can you tolerate dairy (lactose, casein) and
2) finding a good local source, knowing the handling process from farm to table to ensure safety of the raw product
The best way to find out if you are intolerant of lactose or casein is to try a elimination diet. Remove all dairy from your diet and re introduce it after three weeks and take note of the effects. I tried a elimination diet and found a slight intolerance in my self. However I found that I can tolerate certain products in moderation and still receive their benefits (fresh raw yogurt, yummy). Even if you can tolerate dairy I recommend moderate consumption in order to leave room to fill up on other foods such as veggies. Below you will find a list of the best types of dairy to consume if you choose to do so.
Dairy in order of best nutritional value (note all of these should be grass fed as well)
- raw fermented (yogurt, keifer)
- raw high fat (butter, cream)
- raw milk & cheese (preferably aged cheese)
- organic hormone & antibiotic free
- aged cheese is fermented, little to no lactose
- we don’t need as much lactose (milk sugar) as we are lead to believe, to much hampers ability to absorb magnesium because they compete on same absorption channel