The Dairy Debate
The topic of milk consumption has long been debated and there is a lot of varying opinions and varying degrees of truth. I would like to present the facts and you make the call...
Here are the most common issues I encounter in consultations and other questions regarding dairy consumption:
I feel so bloated, gassy and have gut cramps when I eat dairy? Why?
Alongside gluten, dairy is one of the most common foods for a person to develop or have a sensitivity too.
Casein makes up 80% of the protein in milk and can trigger a histamine response in the body; this can cause headaches, digestive upset, asthma, eczema and many other things. Casein shares some similar structural properties to gluten. Its common for people who are sensitive to gluten to also be sensitive to milk. If you are sensitive to milk proteins then you are lacking the enzyme rennin, that breaks down milk protein (Weston A. Price Foundation, 2009)
The whey in milk can cause a large release of the hormone insulin which can play havoc with people who are prone to blood sugar imbalances. This is a big problem in anyone with metabolic problems (a very common issue these days).
Milk contains a sugar called lactose, which is an issue for a large percentage of people. People with lactose-intolerance have a hard time digesting lactose; this causes issues like bloating, digestive upset and a dysbiosis of gut bacteria (Weston A. Price Foundation, 2009). For these reasons, many people state massive health improvements from giving up dairy, and it makes total sense based on the facts.However, this is where it gets interesting because when I've referred to dairy, I'm talking about the most commonly consumed conventional available dairy - the stuff in your supermarket or convenience store.
Raw dairy is full of lactase-producing bacteria that make lactase when they colonize the gut. Lactase is the enzyme that is required to digest lactose (the milk sugar). Without this enzyme you will experience gas, bloating, and cramping and long term possible low back pain due to the ongoing inflammation in the small intestine. Pasteurization destroys the beneficial bacteria, making the milk much harder to digest among a big portion of the population. Its interesting to note that many people who consider themselves lactose intolerant are fine when consuming raw dairy (Weston A. Price Foundation, 2009)
How come some people are fine with dairy and others aren't?
Your ancestry plays a role in how you digest dairy. All human babies make lactase naturally to make digestion of their mother’s milk as easy as possible on their systems. As a child approaches weaning age, the production of lactase slows but in most people the body produces some lactase through adult life.
This seems to be the general rule of thumb: Humans who historically lived further from the equator (and could store fresh milk longer in the cooler climate) make more lactase and are able to digest unfermented dairy products with more ease than those that come from warmer climates. In warmer climates, fresh milk goes off faster so people traditionally made and ate fermented dairy products like yogurt, kefirs, and cheeses. Fermented dairy needs less lactase to digest as the lactose is partially digested by the fermenting process. This has resulted in people that descend from warmer climates often having more issues with digesting dairy products as adults (Weston A. Price Foundation, 2009)
We are all unique. What works for one in terms of what they eat doesn't work for all. Learn to listen to your body!
My Hair test came back showing dairy sensitivities. Does that mean I can't eat dairy again?
It is possible to reverse dairy intolerance's. The key is to remove all dairy from your diet for at least 3months. During this time you follow a gut healing protocol and wholefood diet. After 3months you can reintroduce a little dairy beginning with ghee (this is clarified butter) monitor your response and if you have no adverse reactions; follow the reintroduction of dairy in this order: organic butter, cultured dairy products such as organic yogurt and kefir, raw cheeses in small amounts, and lastly raw cream and raw milk. You must closely monitor your reaction and stop if you get an adverse reactions. Waiting a week between each dairy product is a good guideline. You may require other support if allergies/sensitivities are severe or you are complicated by other health issues. Seeing a holistic practitioner to guide you is going to be your best option in this case.
RealMilk.com has highlighted an Austrian research study that identified a significant reduction in asthma, hay fever, and allergy-related skin problems among children who consumed raw milk versus those who did not. According to the study, the biggest allergy reductions occurred among children who were consuming raw milk in the first year of life and continued to be exposed to it through age five.
Is low-fat (trim) milk is the best option?
This claim has originated from the USDA and encourages everyone over the age of 2 to drink low-fat or fat-free milk. “Low fat milk provides calcium and other nutrients without a lot of saturated fat.” As we finally starting to embrace the fact the fats and fat soluble vitamins are vital to health, drinking low fat milk means the milk proteins are denatured and are actually made toxic through the skimming process and we are missing out on all the benefits of the fats in milk.
Cows milk is only for baby cows
Many 'health conscious' individuals and practitioners would suggest skipping milk all together, stating that humans should choose “healthier” alternatives like soy, rice, or nut milks or no dairy products at all. The consumption of dairy is another example of a food that works for some but doesn't work for all. The roll out advice of everyone should avoid dairy detours away the potential health benefits of fresh, unpasteurized, non-homogenized dairy.
The suggested substitutes can be wonderful for some people but if just purchased of the supermarket shelf can also be full of additives and preservatives (I'm a big fan of almond milk and coconut milk and usually make my own but sometimes for convenience a box off the supermarket shelf is handy - picking up a popular almond milk brand at the supermarket and looking at label revealed 2% almonds - this hardly qualifies as almond milk in my thinking).
Just because cow’s milk is designed for baby cows, doesn’t necessarily mean it can't be a wonderfully nutrient dense food for healthy humans. A good thing to note here is the Masai tribe in Africa who drink up to 6L a day and have hardly any diabetes, heart disease, arthritis or atherosclerosis. The French people also eat a lot cheeses, creams and other dairy products and have minimal rates of heart disease compared with other industrialized nations (Weston A. Price)
Should Raw dairy be considered a health food?
“Real/raw” milk produced from clean, naturally healthy cows (or other milk producing animals) is a nutrient dense alternative to commercial milk and dairy products. When sourcing your milk you should make sure the animals graze on sunny pastures and eat a traditional diet of grass rather than corn, soy, or other farming bi-products (Weston A. Price)
Raw milk from grass-fed cows is a traditional food has been consumed by humans for centuries. It offers many health benefits as it is a complete food and a natural source of all the essential nutrients your body needs including protein, the eight essential amino acids, healthy fats including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), vitamins A, D, and most B’s, minerals, enzymes and cholesterol.
Raw dairy becomes richer in nutrients and beneficial bacteria when fermented or “soured”. Yogurt, kefir and raw cheeses all have amazing health benefits. For more health benefits of raw milk visit Raw-Milk-Facts.com.
Is Raw Milk Safe to drink?
After reading the health benefits of raw milk, you must be thinking why would anyone drink pasteurized milk. I haven't gone massively into the potential health risks of drinking pasteurized milk regularly but there are many studies now that show it is implicated in many modern day diseases. Please see references at the bottom if you want to follow this further.
The biggest reason is fear of illness from raw milk. This is another instance in people tampering with a wonderful natural food and due to greed and need for production have made pasteurization necessary due to unsavory farming practices and bulk production.
The right dairy farming practices make pasteurization completely unnecessary. If you know your raw milk source, you can ensure raw milk is safe for consumption. Raw milk produced from healthy, grass fed cows combined with clean, careful farming practices make “real” milk virtually risk free (www.raw-milk-facts.com)
Up until a year ago, I didn't buy milk in my household as it all just seemed to confusing with all information out there on the topic and I also know milk (from the supermarket) has never sat well with me. The more I've worked with clients and learnt about milk, I've realized it can have its place in a wholefood nutrient dense diet. Raw milk kefir and yoghurt, organic butter and ghee have become a staple at our house. Find out about local raw milk suppliers and check your body's response too. The dairy debate ultimately is a different answer for each individual.
For those in New Plymouth I have a $20 Dolly Milk card and a glass bottle so you can try out raw milk for yourself. All you have to do is Like Revitalizeme Laura Warren, Share the Post to your facebook page and put your name in the comments.
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Raw Milk: What the Scientific Literature Really Says (1.1MB PDF) by the Weston A. Price Foundation, October 30, 2008