Dairy is defined as food produced from the milk of mammals.
Most commonly, humans consume products from cow’s milk.
The two questions to
address in this forum are:
‘Is Dairy good for us?’
‘Is Dairy Paleo?’
Before even getting in to the specifics, detriments,
benefits, and confusion surrounding dairy, let me ask you these questions:
- Can you name another animal on the planet that ingests
another species’ milk?
- Why are humans the
only species to ingest milk after they have been weaned?
That being said, dairy really is a gray area for we humans.
Since we are smarter than the rest of the animal kingdom, (sometimes), and have
the ability to think and reason, (some of us), and have opposing thumbs ;-) ,
there has to be an objective debate about this white juice.
Milk offers all three of our main nutrients: Protein, Fat,
and Carbohydrates, beneficial vitamins, and enzymes. But, then there’s what we
do to it: Pasteurization, Homogenization, add synthetic vitamins, and colors,
to increase shelf life, creaminess, tastiness, and decrease the chances of some
scary disease like Listeria. Other forms, like Raw Milk, maintain their enzymes
and vitamins but are much more fragile and can be risky in the harvesting,
handling, or transportation department. Fermented Products like yogurt, kefir,
and sour cream offset some of the detriments for Lactose intolerant/sensitive types, and then there’s
butter, cream, ghee, and cheese. Then there is the types of feed, injections of growth
hormone, and the conditions commercially raised animals are subjected to. How do they affect
the final product? What about Organic? Grass-Fed?
Complicated. So, what’s a person looking to stay Paleo to do?
- Eat or
- Some not All?
- Occasional consumption?
A huge topic, right? Better grab a coffee.
Did Paleolithic Man Drink Milk?
That’s the big question. Is Dairy really Paleo or Primal?
Certainly, if a caveman was lucky enough to score a mammoth he would have eaten
every bit of it. Milk, mammary glands, and all. And, being mammals ourselves,
humans survive on breast milk during the first years of our life. We do have
the ability to break down and digest the components of milk for beneficial nutrients,
but for a certain amount of time only, usually just the first 4 years of life.
Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet states:
“After weaning, the
consumption of milk and milk products of other mammals would have been nearly
impossible before the domestication of livestock because of the inherent
difficulties in capturing and milking wild mammals and are therefore relative
newcomers to the hominin diet.” –Cordain
And Dr. Michael Eades States:
“In Paleolithic times, and before, man didn’t drink milk
beyond infancy. In fact, after infancy humans developed lactose intolerance,
the inability to break down milk sugar. As a consequence, drinking milk would
cause GI problems due to this lack of ability to break down and absorb
BUT, adding to the confusion, check out this article from the NY Times:
“A surprisingly recent instance of human
evolution has been detected among the peoples of East Africa. It is the ability
to digest milk in adulthood, conferred by genetic changes that occurred as
recently as 3,000 years ago, a team of geneticists has found. Throughout most
of human history, the ability to digest lactose, the principal sugar of milk,
has been switched off after weaning because there is no further need for the
lactase enzyme that breaks the sugar apart. But when cattle were first
domesticated 9,000 years ago and people later started to consume their milk as
well as their meat, natural selection would have favored anyone with a mutation
that kept the lactase gene switched on.” http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/10/science/10cnd-evolve.html?
What’s In Milk?
Milk is about 88% water per 100 grams (3.5oz) and offers:
Protein: 3.2gm Carbohydrate: 4.8gm Fat: 3.9gm
Total Nutrition Info click HERE
Convention Milk Grades and Composition
Regular milk bought at your supermarket is basically colored
water with synthetic chemicals and vitamins added to make it look appealing. It is not healthy despite what the dairy counsel and milk mustache'd athletes tell you.
After being sloshed around with the milk of who knows how many thousands of
other cows down the highway, it is boiled, spun, filtered, and stripped of
pretty much anything beneficial and natural. Fat levels are marketed: whole,
you are going to drink milk, this would be the choice. Some live close
enough to a farm that sells its milk, or are able to meet up with
a farmer once a week that delivers raw milk. It is unprocessed and full
original enzymes, proteins, and vitamins. It is illegal in Canada to
milk and becoming that way in the U.S.A. and the problem is safety. A
really nasty diseases like E. Coli, Listeria, and Salmonella can come
if the milk is not handled carefully.
Organic, Hormone-Free, Antibiotic-Free
things happen in the commercial production of milk and beef. You’ve
probably heard of the movies, (Food Inc.), and books, (The Omnivores
by M. Pollan), that go behind the scenes to show you the horrors of the
feedlot. No one can argue about the conditions, diseases, and
let alone the feed, (primarily grains) that cows, (ruminant species), cannot digest anyway.
They are fed for a quick, fattening, and early slaughter, surviving on antibiotics, without any
regard for the health of the animal AND the end product consumers
These guys have a little more to say on it:
not going to preach, but I will tell you that by purchasing commercially
raised beef and milk, you
are supporting these practices. What I will preach and tell you is that
and Pastured is much better for you. Sometimes. In many cases Organic
and Free-Range mean nothing. The best choice is to do your research
online and find purveyors of quality meats and make your own choices.
There are many convenient options to order
Grass-Fed Beef, Wild Salmon, and Pastured Chicken, right to your door.
healthier with better nutrients.
OK, back to Dairy.
process heats milk to destroy potential viable
pathogens, namely Listeria, Salmonella, and E,Coli, that can make us
ill. It increases shelf life, but at the same time destroys the
enzymes, vitamins, bacteria, and antimicrobial properties milk is known
Unpasteurized or Raw Milk solves this problem, but it too can be risky.
the slightest contact with contaminated equipment, infection of the cow,
unsanitary conditions, or incautious transportation of the product can
render the milk dangerous and toxic.
processed milk may be potentially more harmful if pasteurized, because of the
reduction of SIgA, an immunoglobulin that binds dangerous Lectins.”
1991;59(3):121-5 Davin JC et al
This process is used to prevent the natural separation of
cream from the rest of the milk and evenly mix and distribute milk from
hundreds of cows, herds, and dairies to produce a more consistent raw milk
prior to processing. Homogenization process pumps milk at high pressures
through very narrow tubes breaking up the fat globules into smaller sizes so it
no longer separates. A greater number of smaller particles possess more
total surface area than a smaller number of larger ones, and the
original fat globule membranes cannot completely cover them. The exposed fat
globules are vulnerable to certain enzymes present in milk, which
could break down the fats and produce rancid flavors. To prevent
this, the enzymes are inactivated by pasteurizing the milk immediately before
or during homogenization. This then allows the sale of non-separating milk at
any fat specification.
So, along with Pasteurization, Homogenization too
denatures the structure of the milk, destroys proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
Bovine Growth Hormone Supplementation
I have a big problem with how cows are raised and housed for
the production of milk and meat. I know that in order to stay in business and
make a profit one has to keep up with demand, but the fattening up of cows
using growth hormone, feeding them corn, (which ruminants should not eat), makes
them sick, and they are given antibiotics to keep them alive until they reach
slaughter weight, and herding them into feedlots with upwards of 45,000 other
cows all muddling around in their poop, passing on disease, is disgusting.
Although Dairy Farms may not be as hideous, the majority of commercial ones are
still in the business of over-crowding and over-medicating, to produce as much
milk from the cow as possible with little regard for its health.
on GH given to cows: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovine_somatotropin
Do you really need Milk?
What are you using it for? If it’s to bathe your breakfast
cereal grains then you need to read this article on Grains and stop. Cereal is
just junk with oatmeal and granola not far behind. The typical American
‘Continental Breakfast’ is nothing more than grains (sugar), orange juice
(sugar), and toast (sugar), with jam (more sugar). Giving up your cereal in
favor of a more healthy breakfast equally balanced with protein, fat, and good
carbohydrate is not that big of deal. And, you’ll feel a whole lot better
throughout the entire morning.
Lactose is a sugar found in milk that is formed from
Galactose and Glucose. It is broken down by the enzyme Lactase that is released
in the small intestine. After about the age of four most humans develop the
inability to digest lactose effectively due to the decreased production of
Lactase. But, recent research indicates that different cultures do indeed
produce Lactase into adulthood thus have the ability, have adapted to digest
milk better than others. Gene expression is being altered. So again, it’s a
gray area. If you are lactose intolerant, you probably know it by the way you
feel after a glass of milk. An achy gut, cramps, diarrhea, and bloating is hard
People have been fermenting foods for thousands of years and
Paleo Man obviously lived in a world without sterilization and handi-wipes.
Foods are fermented by the addition of bacteria and/or yeasts, which initiates
a chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol. It renders many previously
inedible and un-Paleo-like foods edible, somewhat nutritious…and tasty!
Health-wise, Antinutrients like lectins,
gluten, and phytates in grains, for example, can be greatly reduced by
In dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and kefir, the fermentation
process breaks down the lactose, (the sugar in milk), thus mitigating
a potentially problematic sugar that wreaks havoc on the gut. It also decreases
the carb content and can cut the official carb count of yogurt cut in half.
Probiotics … Good Bacteria
Fermented foods bring helpful Probiotics, beneficial
bacteria, to our gut, which help to restore the balance of our intestinal flora
to improve digestion and help repair the damage we create from improper eating
“People who ate
traditional, whole foods Primal diets and exposed themselves to bacteria on a
regular basis. Fermented foods merely address a severe deficit in the modern
gut; they don’t introduce anything new to human physiology.” –M. Sisson
Introducing fermented foods into our diet can help
normalize things and get our guts in good shape.
Food fermentation has been said to serve five main purposes:
- Enrichment of the diet
through development of a diversity of flavors, aromas, and textures in
- Preservation of substantial
amounts of food through lactic acid, alcohol, acetic acid and alkaline
- Biological enrichment of food
substrates with protein, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and
- Elimination of Antinutrients
- A decrease in cooking times
and fuel requirements
K. H., Ed. (1995). Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods. New York, Marcel
Coconut is fantastic containing great fat and Lauric Acid. I
have at least a half a cup a day in my shake and love to add it to curry dishes
I concoct and smell the entire house up with! Read about the benefits HERE.
I am not a fan of Soy in any form. It is the most pesticide
sprayed and heavily processed crop that we have. There are some health benefits
to fermented soy such as tempeh, but as far as the milk goes, it is mostly
water with some squished soybeans added for protein, sugar, and synthetic
vitamins such as calcium and B12 added to make the nutrition information look
good. The second ingredient in Silk Soy Milk is sugar. It contains phytic acid,
which inhibits the absorption of nutrients so it can hardly be thought of as a
‘health food’. It’s probably fine once in a while for those who are not
sensitive to plant estrogens and who don’t like dairy milk, but I wouldn’t go
out of my way to include it in the diet. You have better choices.
Pretty much the same as Soy, mostly water and sugar. Save
Sheep’s Milk is higher in Fat, (6.0g), and Protein,
(5.4g), and Carb, (5.1) owing to the fact that it is a denser milk with water
contributing only 83% per 100g.
“Goat Dairy is another option, with more fat (that’s
never homogenized, even when pasteurized), less casein, less lactose, and fewer
digestive issues. Structurally and nutritionally, goat milk is one of the
closer corollaries to human breast milk, making it arguably more suitable for
human consumption than cow’s milk.” –M.Sisson
Cheese is made by the separation of whey and casein. It is
produced by the coagulation of casein, then adding starter bacteria to convert
the milk sugars into lactic acid. Cheese ends up being pretty much fat and
protein after the majority of the lactose is used up the fermentation process.
Cow’s milk is ideal for cheese making because it contains high levels of
casein, which is required to provide an adequate coagulum. Cheese is valued for
its portability, long life, and high content of fat, protein, calcium, and
Hundreds of types of cheeses are produced and vary in
texture, flavor, and nutrient profile. Most cheeses: 25-30% fat, cheddar and
blue being the highest, dry cheeses like mozzarella and swiss being on the low
Manchego: 28% F 28% P
Mozzarella: 24% 22%
Swiss: 32% F32% P
Cheddar 38% F 28% P
Parma: 30% F 18% P
Feta: 24% F 15% P
Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has separated
and curdled. Milk is approximately 80% Casein and 20% Whey. It can be used to
make cheese such as ricotta, and most popularly Whey Protein Powder to be used
as a supplement. Coming in mainly three forms: Isolate, Hydrolysate, and
Concentrate, it is nearly lactose free and provides a convenient, inexpensive,
and excellent source of protein supplementation.
Butter & Cream are usually not heavily processed,
pretty much lactose and casein free, and provide a good source of saturated
fat. AND, I don’t think there’s a person on the planet who doesn’t love the
taste of either once and a while.
Butter is made by churning cream and is around 80%
fat. It consists of butterfat, water, and milk proteins. A WAY better choice
than margarine or other fake spreads.
Cream, (the ½ & ½ type), is about 12% fat, 4%
carb, and 3% protein.
In the end, dairy should be limited, maybe as a treat once
in a while, some cheese with your wine, or a little cream in your coffee.
Knowing the facts behind the production of commercial milk obviously makes it a
product worth avoiding. Knowing the inability of most humans to break down
Lactose makes it harmful for gut health. And, knowing that milk is what it is
in the first place: a food for an infant (not adult) mammal tells you there are