What’s the deal with dairy, and what role should it play in your diet? The answer really depends on your individual makeup. Many studies have linked consumption of pasteurized milk with lactose intolerance, allergies, asthma, frequent ear infections, gastro-intestinal problems, diabetes, auto-immune disease, attention deficit disorder, and constipation.
What about cheese, you ask? Hard cheeses can also cause excess mucus production and can exacerbate yeast infections, because they are naturally high in mold. Cheese is basically a fat with a little bit of protein, so nutritionally speaking it should be used in moderation. The best cheeses for you are organic cottage and ricotta cheeses, goat cheese, feta cheese, sheep’s-milk cheese, buffalo-milk cheese, and any raw, unpasteurized cheeses you can find. Goat, sheep, and buffalo-milk cheese are usually better tolerated in people who have allergies or sensitivities to cow’s milk. And unpasteurized cheeses are richer in calcium than the more processed brands, since the pasteurization process makes it very difficult for calcium to be absorbed.
So if I’m not advocating a lot of cheese or milk, what’s left in the dairy family? Yogurt, of course! Yogurt is rich in probiotics, which are the “good” bacteria present in our intestinal tracts. Healthy people normally have about four pounds of beneficial bacteria in their intestinal tract, and yogurt helps keep that balance intact. Yogurt is low in lactose and very easy to digest, making it no surprise that yogurt has been around for billions of years. Now, here’s the catch: to get the most benefit, you must buy the plain kind and sweeten it yourself. And make sure it has fat in it; fat-free dairy products register as a carb in the body and raise insulin levels.
If you can’t tolerate milk products, ask yourself if it’s the animal you are allergic to, or the pasteurization process. Raw milk is actually easier to digest than pasteurized milk, because it is rich in probiotics and maintain the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Raw milk also contains phosphatase enzymes that help the body absorb calcium. Raw milk from pasture-fed cows will also help keep you lean since it is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which naturally helps the body burn fat. And, raw milk contains protein, trace minerals, and every known fat and water-soluble vitamin.
Once pasteurization goes down, it’s a whole different story. The beneficial bacteria are destroyed, the calcium can no longer be absorbed, and the raw enzymes die off. (To source raw milk near you, go to www.realmilk.com).
Our family is pretty much dairy free; we use almond or coconut milk in oats and heavy whipping cream in coffee. And every now and then, we enjoy a gooey slice of pizza.
Don’t Drink Your Milk, Frank Oski, MD, 1983
The Real Truth About Vitamins and Minerals, Judith DeCava