In Defense of Dairy

I’ve heard it all- all the reasons dairy is apparently horrible for you:

Not only is it labelled “pus” (thank you, Skinny Bitch book), but it is filled with hormones, spikes insulin, casein is addictive, everyone is lactose intolerant, its a neolithic food, we are adults and don’t need milk, and even the most mainstream and fat-phobic reason: it is loaded with saturated FAT!

Lots of groups like to give their reasons why milk and dairy are health wreckers, but I am here to argue in Milk’s defense.

Note: If you can’t already tell, science is not my main currency. If you want people who actually research science and try to explain it to you, I recommend also reading more of Matt Stone and Danny Roddy. But I deal in experience and feelings. I let other people’s research inform my feelings and decisions, but my main goal is to bust food phobias. Science helps me do that, so I will try to link to the evidence that may enlighten your scientific minds better than I can.

Lactose Intolerance

Many people are lactose intolerant, or “lactose intolerant”. I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant at 2 years old and grew up drinking rice milk and soy cheese. (blerggg) But I would sneak real cheese at school. In fact, my schtick in the cafeteria was that I would go to the salad bar and just fill up a whole bowl of shredded cheese and eat it with my hands. Delicious. I was a Fuck It Dieter long before I was a dieter.

But I found I could tolerate cheese no problem, and also that it was my favorite food. But milk, which I rarely tried, and never really liked anyway, made me feel bloated. Lots of the extreme diets I went on argued against dairy, and because of my “lactose intolerance” I believed them even more.

Its Not the Milk’s Fault

I read recently that lactose intolerance is not the milk’s fault, it is our fault. They argue that the difficulty digesting it is due to impaired gut function and low thyroid function. And that in many cases, slowly adding it back in can help our bodies adjust to digesting it.

Not only did Ray Peat and Danny Roddy convince me to give milk another go, but also the Weston A. Price Foundation’s support of (Raw) Dairy consumption. Not only that, but the restrictive GAPS diet I tried (and failed) even supports dairy consumption.

While WAPF and other Real Food enthusiasts insist that milk should be raw, Ray Peat seems to think that even pasteurized milk can be beneficial.

So I began drinking some. First a glass of pasteurized milk -which did leave me bloated. But, I was at my parents home in PA at the time where Raw Milk is easier to get, so the next day I had some raw milk and felt fine.

!

I kept on drinking raw milk for a few days. When I ran out, I decided to have another glass of pasteurized milk. And I felt fine. I felt fine! I cured a life long case of lactose intolerance.

Then I started in on the ice cream.

While I would say that raw milk is probably best I think it is amazing that it alone cured my inability to drink pasteurized milk. I am now back living in NY, where raw milk is far more difficult to get, so I drink pasteurized grass-fed milk sometimes. And I eat ice cream a lot.

So… Is Milk a Beneficial and/or Essential Part of the Diet?

I don’t know. I don’t know and I don’t even think I care.

I am in the business of busting food myths and food phobias.

I wanted to show myself that I could. And give myself the option to drink milk and eat ice cream if that’s what I crave. I already tolerated cream in my coffee and allthecheese. I wanted the freedom and the option to go even further. Plus I had a feeling that it could be great.

I am trying to tell you, dear reader, that if you are scared of milk: no need. And if you are lactose intolerant or even allergic to milk, it is not the milk. It may just be your body’s state, and if it is worth it to you to acclimate to drinking milk, you probably can.

How are we supposed to eat what we crave when we are afraid of food that might be good for us?!

Milk’s Benefits in Simple Terms

Milk is loaded with protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin K2, and B2 and B12 vitamins. As well as grassfed milk having conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)- an amazing-for-you-fat. These are all vitamins that are not quite abundant in other foods, and definitely not abundant in plant foods.

Milk is easy to consume and the nutrients are easy to absorb.

I think the best thing about milk and cheese and ice cream though, is that it is one of the highest foods in saturated fat, which is a good thing. It supports healthy cell, hormone and brain function, as well as being anti-inflammatory.

Remember, my goal is to take away unnecessary food phobias to allow our cravings to be King. Don’t listen to those ladies who wrote Skinny Bitch. Just because they have a book doesn’t make them right.

And just because I have a blog doesn’t make me right.

Listen to Yourself.

and Fuck It!

13 comments

  1. At one of the natural grocery stores near me, you can get low pasteurized, NON-homogonized grass fed organic milk from a local farm (basically, flash heated just enough to kill e. coli and pass regulation). Holy cow (snerk), it is delicious.
    My favorite stress and insomnia buster is to take whole milk and run steam through it (or even just heat it up and wisk it) and add some raw honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg. A local coffee shop does this and calls it “Oma’s Milche” (grandmother’s milk) and it is delicious, soothing, and calming.

    I love milk and milk products myself. Especially cheese. Warm whole milk with a dash of honey is my favorite sore throat treatment.
    My husband also loves milk, but in his late 20s, he developed an allergy to bovine casein (so, it’s like lactose intolerance except lactaid doesn’t work). He works around with rice milk products, tofu cheeses, and (his favorite) goat milk products. we are lucky enough he can get most any type of butter or cheese you’d find in cow product in goat (I’ve been told goat milk is very close to human milk, and prior to the popularity of soy and other alt. milks was the go-to milk for lactose intolerant persons).

    • Caroline says:

      Ooooh, I should search for low pasteurized. I also have heard lots of great stuff about goat dairy. I should have mentioned that in my post! I LOVE goat and sheeps cheese. The milk and yogurt I haven’t been able to develop a taste for yet… I think that a legit casein allergy is more different to work around than “lactose intolerance”. Real allergies are tricky buggers. Not quite sure how to address them yet on this site. Since, all of MY “intolerances” have been mostly made up fears that I have been told I had, and believed, and no actual allergies. I have always wonder whether I should go get tested for food allergies, but I have heard those tests are not always accurate and can depend on the time and day and what is in your system. So I figure, why add in another stressor at this point!

      • Some folks like the low pasteurized dairy, some don’t- a lot of people find the grass undertaste offputting. (the goat milk- i can cook with but find drinking it just tastes too much like goat smells. but the mr. loves smokey, heavy dairies so he’s good drinking it).
        I have a couple of food allergies, but they were determined through trial and error as opposed to testing-
        pork makes me swollen + itchy and fake sugars, well, let’s just say it’s super unpleasant and once warranted repainting a friend’s bathroom (and can be surprisingly difficult to avoid).

  2. Kait says:

    This is perfect timing, thank you!

    I have a legitimate allergy to the protein in cow milk but fortunately, goat milk protein is different enough that my body accepts it. I love goat yogurt, it’s sooooo good to me… I crave the earthy wanginess of it frequently. In my opinion it is a very healthy food and a great way to get some protein when you don’t feel like having meat all the time…plus the probiotics are awesome.

    During several of my brainwashings I gave up dairy and I missed goat yogurt so much. I denied myself this food that I loved and I thought about it more than a person should think about a food. Seriously, there were times when shopping that I would look at it, then tell myself not to buy it, then think about it the rest of the day…yeah, I was that f-d up!

    Now, if I find myself thinking about a food for more than a passing moment, fuck it, I eat it. Tonight for dinner it was goat yogurt, 2 giant cups…yummmm!!! One other neurosis that this dinner did not include was the obsessive need to eat fruits or vegetables every time I eat. Fuck it, I just had the yogurt and that was enough because dairy is pretty all around satisfying 🙂

    I am curious about the raw dairy and allergies…”normal” cow dairy gives me a big red itchy ring around my lips, I wonder if introducing a small amount of raw would help my body to not do this? I’m afraid to try because the rash is so bad. But I want to try, ice cream would be so lovely. Cow yogurt would be awesome. Maybe I’ll give it a go and see what happens, fuck it, right?!

    • Caroline says:

      I agree about yogurt, (except I eat cow). I should try goat! I think yogurt is almost the perfect food! It is the #1 thing I missed being dairy free and “paleo”. Trust that yogurt craving 🙂

      I wish I knew more about allergies and healing them. I think there are definitely ways, but a lot of the ways I have heard tend to be restrictive, which I don’t recommend obviously! I have heard that there are different kinds of COWS (A1 and A2) and that they can affect us differently and the kind we normally get in America is the “harder kind” to handle (don’t quote me on that, I am paraphrasing something I heard long ago). I also wonder if raw dairy could be ok for you. But I would def start out slow.

      Let me know if you experiment!

      • A1 and A2 are two kinds of casein found in milk. A2 is the natural one, A1 is a recent mutation (in the past thousand years or so), in cows but not in goats.

        A1 breaks down in your body into a protein that some people have trouble with, and that may, or may not, be linked to certain diseases. But certainly people with casein allergy may be allergic to A1 and not to A2.

        Goat’s milk is not A1 so may be okay for people allergic to cow’s milk.

        Most American milk comes from Holstein cows, and they are mostly A1. Indian/African breeds are all A2. Jersey and Guernsey are more A2 than A1.

        You can send a couple of tail hairs from your cow to have her tested for about $25. I know, you probably don’t have your own cow–what to do?

        Goat’s milk I guess. I live about an hour from a raw grass fed dairy which keeps Jersey cows, and their milk is delicious and probably mostly A2. I guess you just have to find or make a source. You don’t need much room to keep a couple of goats.

  3. Tom says:

    “I wanted to show myself that I could.”

    I love this advice. I found myself getting wrapped up in “what is the BEST way for me to consume X or Y” and putting off just eating/drinking the damn thing.

    I think that once the body has tried each and every food type, it is in a better position to tell you if and when you need it again in the future.

    Small serving sizes have been good for me. It seems less daunting (although more expensive) to buy a single packet/carton of something then go back and buy more if I need.

    Thank you for the great post again Caroline! 🙂

    • Caroline says:

      Haha, yes in the beginning I started buying the MINI haagen daaz ice creams! I agree about the body needing to know whats out there before it can crave the right things!

  4. Carolyn Z says:

    I love milk! I was so disappointed to learn that milk was on the “no no” list. I was never good at paying attention to that list anyway. It confused me – how something so seemingly rotten for human health tastes so delicious and is ridiculously satisfying. My daughter, who has suffered with IBS for a long time (although it’s getting better over the last two years), knows, intuitively, that dairy products are soothing and healing for her tummy. She knows what she knows. Thank you for this article. I am always in defense of milk. (But I do stick with organic. I’m also for full fat, all the way around.)
    ~ Carolyn

  5. Miro Durica says:

    I have not so good experience with fake cheese or pasteriozed cheese from supermarket. I have feeling that it is a culprit of my problems with hard stool. what do you think ? all other in particular raw products are beneficial for me. But there is a little problem to get qualite cheese.

  6. Emma says:

    The dairy industry is inherently cruel. Baby calves are taken away from their mothers at less than a day old and the male ones are slaughtered within a few months simply because they are not biologically able to make a profit for farmers. Caring about your own mental and physical health is fine but wanting to do so doesn’t give you the right to take away someone else’s freedom.

    • Caroline says:

      I agree with you. Humane and high quality dairy is always preferred. Caring about that side is not disordered, it is empathetic and caring.

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