The Real Scoop on Dairy

One of the dietary components within a recent fat loss challenge I created was to “test” for food intolerances. I had a number of clients report that eating dairy caused discomfort and sluggishness. Why is that?

Dairy and Intolerance

The proteins in dairy are some of the main offenders for allergies and inflammation. For many people, the reaction is subtle and chronic, but for others, it can trigger an autoimmune flare-up.

In either case, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause without isolating it. To do this, experiment with your own dairy tolerance test (like we did in the challenge). To do this, you need to completely eliminate ALL dairy from your diet for three weeks, and then reintroduce it to see how you feel. Test out different dairy options each day, like yogurt, cheese, milk, etc. If they cause any sort of ill-reaction, it’s best to drop it from your diet.

If you find that you are sensitive, there’s still hope: Many people who are lactose sensitive can still eat butter with no problems because it has very little protein or lactose. If you’re extra sensitive, ghee (clarified butter) is pure butterfat, and usually still a safe option for those extra-sensitive to dairy.

Recommended Dairy Options

Other than butter and ghee, the only dairy I can recommend to most people is full-fat, raw milk, cream, kefir, and yogurt from grass-fed cows. Dairy proteins impact some people more than others, and if you find you tolerate them, these can be a great addition to your diet. Again, it must meet all the requirements to be #tfapproved: raw , grass-fed and full-fat.

Raw, unpasteurized dairy: Pasteurization creates inflammatory proteins, oxidizes fats, kills off beneficial bacteria, and reduces the availability of calcium. The process of pasteurization makes digestion more difficult by denaturing casein (milk’s primary protein) and lactase, the enzyme you need to digest milk sugars. Buying raw matters less for butter and ghee, since they have very few milk proteins. The truth is that raw milk is nutritionally superior and easier to digest than pasteurized dairy.

Grass-fed dairy: When dairy cows eat grains, they become sick, malnourished, and weak. They produce milk with less nutrients and traces of the hormones and antibiotics used to keep them alive. Toxins from their feed also accumulate within the protein in milk.

By comparison, dairy from grass-fed cows have healthier fats, a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, and fewer toxins. Not only can you support a better farming system, but you get more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and vitamins K, D, and A.

Full-fat dairy: To reap the nutritional benefits of dairy, be sure to go full-fat. The saturated fats in dairy are natural and prevent overeating by telling your body when you’re full, and also help slow the release of sugars from your meal. You’ll also avoid all the synthetic vitamins and other chemical compounds that manufacturers add in for taste and texture (to replace the naturally-occurring fat).

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Summary

Here’s the deal: most supermarkets don’t carry dairy that fulfill all the criteria above. You will likely find whole milk, but it’s not raw and it’s not from grass-fed cows. Avoid it.

This is why I tend to recommend milk alternatives for most people. Commercially available diary products aren’t up-to-par and create more nutritional problems than solutions. Buying direct from a farm is best. Although, it’s not always the most convenient.

Not to worry.

Start simple this week with these steps:

  1. Change your milk to a milk alternative. There’s so many options out there nowadays.
  2. Use Kerrygold grass-fed butter. You can even find this at a bulk food retailer (e.g., Costco, Sam’s Club) to mitigate cost.
  3. Start a diary elimination diet to test for intolerance.

3 thoughts on “The Real Scoop on Dairy

    1. You can find a variety of milk alternatives in most supermarkets like, almond milk, cashew milk, pea milk, coconut milk, etc. These are often right next to the regular milk in the refrigerated dairy section.

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