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Dairy – Is it good for you or not?

It seems the 20 years of the “Got Milk” campaign has really got us believing that milk is so good for our health and bones.  But is Dairy really good or not?

Now a days there are all kinds of nut milks on the market. Is it a fad, is everyone allergic or lactose intolerant? 

There are some cultures that can tolerate lactose (milk sugar) – but many do not. There is also casein (one of the proteins found in milk – the other is whey) which is another issue for some and is slow to digest – it takes around 7 hours to digest. 

Dairy was not even consumed until after the agricultural revolution. Here in the U.S. parents usually switch their babies to cow’s milk after age 1. We are the only species that drinks another animal’s milk which if you think about it – it’s kind of weird! Babies produce lots of lactase which is an enzyme that helps absorb our mother’s milk.  After weaning, they stop producing as much lactase which is why some become lactose intolerant. Like I said, certain populations tolerate it better(1).

Dairy in general is inflammatory, mucus producing and is growth producing. 

It has been linked to ear infections in children, tumor growth, joint inflammation, increases insulin, as well as respiratory and cardiovascular issues.  

Dairy sometimes produce vague symptoms. And, by vague I mean you are not having an acute reaction to it.  It shows up in different ways – usually inflammation of some sort. If you are lactose intolerant, you’d probably have an acute reaction usually within an hour or so – such as stomach pain, diarrhea, gas or bloating.

If you are drinking conventional dairy you are likely adding hormones and antibiotics that causes issues in your gut and disrupts your endocrine system. Furthermore, most milk here in the U.S. is produced from A-1 cows which is part of the problem. And before I totally go off in another direction on A1 vs. A2 cows because that in itself is a whole other story. I’ll just give you the short version. Regular milk mostly here in the U.S. contains A1 beta-casein, which is partly broken down to beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7) in the stomach. BCM-7 has been linked with several adverse health effects. In Europe, they have A-2 cows and it seems they do not have the problems we do with dairy. 

Raw, full-fat, organic grass-fed dairy on another hand is said to be extremely beneficial to our health. New York is one of 26 states where it can be bought with restrictions although where I live I have not come across where you can buy raw milk. California for example is much more readily available and even sold in stores because it’s legal. Pasteurization in conventional milk kills any nutrients that are valuable to our bodies which is why raw milk is the better option.  Raw milk contain live bacteria which is what makes it beneficial. If you do find raw milk in your area, make sure you are aware of the farmer’s practices so to be sure it is safe.  The FDA will demonize raw milk, however, I don’t have confidence in an agency that is paid by the US treasury as well as receives pay checks from drug companies. They are far from protecting us from dangerous foods on the market.

Organic, raw, grass-fed fermented diary in the form of kefir or yogurt has beneficial nutrients and in some cases healing to your body. Be sure to make sure the yogurt you are buying is not filled with sugar and other fillers.

What about Calcium?

There really is not a high amount of calcium in milk and there are much better sources. There is actually more calcium in leafy greens then there is in dairy.  Nuts and seeds are another excellent source of calcium besides it also has fat which helps absorption. Many people are under the assumption drinking low-  or no-fat milk is good but it leads to low absorption of calcium. Sardines is another excellent source of calcium. Dairy is acidic and vegetables are alkaline so another plus for eating vegetables over dairy for calcium. Plus, because dairy is acidic your body naturally aims to neutralize the body and will take calcium from your bones. Much contrary to many beliefs about dairy for preventing osteoporosis.  Studies show vitamin D is better for your bones than calcium.

What’s the Verdict?

For me, I don’t drink milk or eat yogurt. But I do eat grass-fed butter, ghee (which his actually dairy free anyhow but I mention it as a butter alternative as it also has a lot of healing properties) and occasionally eat cheese. When I do eat cheese, my joints are inflamed and my face breaks out – so I always regret it. It has caused me more harm than good so I stay away for the most part. 
Now, that’s not to say you will have the same issues. Some tolerate dairy well but I’d source your dairy from grass-fed/organic cows at the very least.  And, if you are able to source raw dairy from a reputable farmer that would be your best source to reap the beneficial nutrients.
Cows that are raised on pasture and eat grass have a different nutrient profile than cows that are eating grain. Grass-fed/finished cows have more more Omega-3 fatty acids and up to 500% more Conjugated Linoleic Acid.  The omega-3 to 6 ratio in grass-fed cows is perfect.  Grain-fed/conventional raised cows omega-6 ratio to omega-3 ratio is about 20 to 1.  Their much higher ratio in omega-6 makes it very inflammatory to our bodies.  Not to mention all the antibiotics they are fed to keep them from getting sick due to eating grain.  All this is present in dairy just as much as in the meat.
Dairy sometimes has vague adverse symptoms and the best way to see if you have a sensitivity is to do an elimination diet for at least 7-9 days then reintroduce it for 3 days and see how your body reacts.
Here is a website I found very informative about milk facts from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences – Cornell University.
How well do you tolerate dairy?  What’s your take on it?  I’d love for you to share in the comments.  
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