Dairy products are produced from milk and are a source of simple carbohydrates. There are healthy dairy choices and unhealthy dairy choices. Let’s learn the difference between the two. Most milk products, organic and conventional, have the potential to create mucus and inflammation.
Lactase and Casein
Some people have a low tolerance for milk because they lack intestinal lactase, an enzyme that digests lactose (milk sugar). In addition, some people are allergic to a milk protein called casein, which is one of the more difficult proteins for the body to digest. If you are one of these people, dairy is an unhealthy decision for you because it may cause inflammation, diarrhea, headaches, and a whole host of other symptoms, which can lead to disease.
If you are uncertain how your body does with dairy, pay attention to your body when you consume it and ask yourself the following questions: Does your heart rate go up when you consume it? Does it make you feel gassy or bloated? Do you get pain or cramps in your lower belly? Does it cause diarrhea? Do you break out in a rash? Do you feel anxious after you have consumed it? How to Tell if You are Sensitive to Dairy
Paying close attention to your body when you eat certain foods will give you much insight into how your body does with that food. If you do well with dairy, you may use these healthful foods in small amounts, and they can be very Good Decisions.
Butter and cream contain very little lactose and casein, and may be tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant. Fat also slows the passage of lactose through your digestive system, giving you more time to digest it. Those who are extremely intolerant of milk protein may consume ghee, a clarified butter in which the milk solids have been removed.
Dairy Consumption Controversy
Among nutritional therapists, there’s some controversy over dairy consumption. Some say dairy is good, and some say to avoid it. The decision to include dairy in your diet is not black or white because there are many factors to consider. A primary consideration, of course, is whether you are sensitive or allergic to it.
Everyone is different—what may work for one person may not work for you. The appropriateness of dairy consumption depends on each individual. Some dairy products can be consumed in moderation if your body does well with them.
Different Types of Dairy
Much depends on the type of milk, where it came from, how it was processed, and what has been added to it, in determining whether or not it will be problematic or mucus producing. A visit to a naturopathic physician or other health care professional may help you rule out whether or not dairy may be appropriate for you.
The reason I say small amounts is because dairy can be a source of “hidden sugars.” For instance, one small six-ounce container of yogurt can have up to 30 or more grams of simple carbohydrates. That’s equivalent to 7.5 cubes of sugar!
Many brands of yogurt contain artificial flavoring, coloring, and other synthetic ingredients. Read your food labels and, instead of looking at the nutrition facts, look at the ingredient list. Often you will find ingredients such as modified cornstarch, high fructose corn syrup, carrageenan, artificial colors, and so-called “natural flavors” that are anything but natural. If you see an unfamiliar ingredient on the list, or anything you can’t identify, avoid the product altogether until you can do your research.
Recommended Dairy Products
Nancy’s or Stonyfield’s plain yogurt brands are healthful yogurts. No sugar is added, and these yogurts contain six different strains of probiotic bacteria instead of just one. Some kefir and clabber brands offer ten or more strands of probiotic bacteria that live and grow in your intestinal system, which are very beneficial for your health. Probiotics are often used to prevent or treat intestinal disorders, stimulate your immune system, and produce antimicrobial substances.
Don’t fall for the “low fat” dairy items touted over the last thirty or more years. They may be low in fat, but they are usually higher in sugar or contain artificial sugar, flavoring, and other ingredients to compensate for the flavorful fat that has been removed. You will learn in my book that not all fats are the monsters they have been portrayed to be.
Organic whole milk and plain yogurt can be used to create delicious, healthy dishes, and are full of protein, quality fat, and minerals that are good for bones and vibrant healthy skin. Plain, whole-milk yogurt can be sweetened with fresh berries and other fruit. This yogurt is much better for you than already-sweetened, artificially-flavored, or non-fat varieties. While low-fat products tend to be higher in sugar, whole milk products tend to be higher in protein and quality fat, which provide more nutrients.
An additional benefit of whole milk products is they are more satiating and taste much better. When you milk a cow, a thick layer of cream will form on the top of the milk. In this cream are fat-soluble vitamins, proteins, and fatty acids that are good for the immune system. When this layer of cream is removed to make a non-fat product, what you have left is basically sugar water. Another factor to consider with dairy is how the cow is treated.
Conventional Dairy Products
Conventional dairy cows are fed an unnatural diet of genetically modified corn, antibiotics, growth hormones, and chicken and pig slaughter byproducts. These substances make their way into the milk and dairy products that end up on your table and in your body when you eat them.
Unfortunately, the majority of conventional dairy products come from cows on feedlots that are fed a number of unnatural things that do end up in the milk, so this is one product where I really encourage you to choose organic; this ensures that your milk is free of traces of these substances.
People who have penicillin allergies will sometimes react to meat or dairy products because of the amount of antibiotics in them. If you choose to consume dairy, choose local raw milk or grass-fed organic products made from the milk of cows that have not been fed genetically-modified corn, antibiotics, or growth hormones, but rather good old-fashioned grass. These milk products tend to be richer in Omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which boost your immune system and the taste is far superior.
Historically, many societies depended on the raw milk of cattle, sheep, goats, and camels for protein and fat. The practice of fermenting (souring milk) is used in all traditional groups that keep herds. The fermenting process utilizes enzymes for partially breaking down lactose and pre-digest casein. The end products, such as yogurt, kefir, and clabber, can often be tolerated by adults who cannot drink fresh milk.
I am a proponent of raw milk products because they contain life-giving enzymes, probiotics, proteins, and fats that our ancestors enjoyed as nature intended, untampered with by man. I know what you’re thinking. “Really? Raw, you say?” Yes! It’s very good for you, and it’s delicious. In many states, you can buy raw milk on the farm and in stores. In some cases, you may have to purchase a small share in a cow to receive regular deliveries. Thanks to the Internet, we have access to many healthy foods. Do an Internet search by typing “raw milk” and the name of the area you live in to find many options and locations for you to obtain raw milk.
I have enjoyed raw milk products since 2002 and have never been sick or had any health issues as a result of doing so. My health has only improved. I highly recommend that you try raw milk, and do your own research into this healthy food.
Of course, as with every food, there is a risk. You can get E. coli from spinach, listeria from cantaloupe, and salmonella from chicken or eggs. If we live in fear, we don’t live at all. You must make your own choice and follow what feels right to you. How the farm handles raw milk appears to be what determines your risk, so visiting a farm and finding out how it handles its raw milk may put your mind more at ease. If you are hesitant to try raw milk, Organic Valley offers GrassMilk, a non-homogenized artisanal milk that has not been homogenized and is minimally pasteurized. It still has the cream on top just like the old days, and all you have to do is shake and pour. This is one of the tastiest pasteurized milk products I have tried.
Butter and Cream Contrary to what most people believe, butter and cream are not unhealthy. Organic, grass-fed cream contains nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as protein and healthy fats that boost the immune system. The fat-soluble vitamins A and D in butter and cream are vital to health because they act as catalysts for mineral absorption and protein utilization. Adding a bit of butter, yogurt, or cream to your grains or vegetables enhances mineral absorption and delivers some phenomenal nutrients. Additionally, whole fat products are satiating and won’t leave you feeling hungry.
Dairy products are marketed for their high protein content, but it’s important to know that some contain more carbohydrates than protein. For example, butter, cream, and cheese do not have high amounts of carbohydrates; they are higher in fats and proteins. Other products, like milk and yogurt, do contain significant amounts of simple carbohydrates that can raise blood sugar levels rapidly.
Good Decisions recommends dairy only for those who tolerate and do well with dairy. If you lack intestinal lactase, are allergic to casein, or experience pain, gas, mucus, inflammation, diarrhea, headaches, or other symptoms, dairy is best avoided. If you are uncertain as to how your body does with dairy, avoid it for a week or two while you are on the 30 Day No Sugar Challenge and see how your body feels. Many people feel better when they do not consume dairy products, while others love it and tolerate dairy well.
All-Star Dairy Products Include:
• Organic or raw whole fat milk or buttermilk
• Organic or raw plain whole milk yogurt, kefir, or clabber
• Organic or raw cheese
• Organic or raw half-and-half, heavy cream, and butter
These products are the most nutritious and contain high levels of protein, quality fat, enzymes, and probiotics.