Dairy is such a controversial topic in the health and nutrition world. Some say avoid it entirely (we’re the only mammals who drink another mammals breast milk long into adulthood, after all, right?), while others say drink ALL the milk (dairy is the only way we will get sufficient nutrients such as Vitamin D and Calcium, right??). So what’s the deal??
Well, I’m here to share my personal opinion on dairy and you can take it or leave it!
First, I’ll give a little run down of some of the milk we know and love, then at the end I’ll give you MY tips on how to approach this topic, from my perspective.
THE CONVENTIONAL COW
First, let’s address the conventional, usually low-fat or fat-free milk that many Americans buy from the grocery store. Where does it come from? Cows obviously! Kind of. It does come from cows. But often times these cows unfortunately have not been cared for as well as we would hope. You know the saying “you are what you eat?” Well this is applicable in more ways than we sometimes realize. Cows in the generations of our grandparents and great grandparents roamed free on pastures and ate fresh grass from the earth. They produced about 2-3 gallons of milk a day. Many of the cows today are fed very differently, as well as selected differently and pumped full of unnatural hormones, causing them to produce 3-4 times as much milk as they naturally do. All imI’saying, is it’s important to be aware of the sourcing and how the cows in which we are getting our milk are raised.
The conventional milk we are accustomed to is also pasteurized. Pasteurization is a heating process that is designed to kill and eliminate all potential pathogenic organisms. This process began in the 1860s. People were getting sick from drinking raw milk. Unfortunately, what they didn’t know then but we now DO know is that they just didn’t have the proper storage and testing abilities that we do now. Pasteurizing, or heating to a point that kills pathogens sounds like a good idea, but the unfortunate part is that this heating also denatures, or kills, many of the enzymes in the milk. These enzymes are actually needed in order for our bodies to assimilate (or make use of) all bodybuilding factors, including calcium. In simpler terms, we get much more nutrition from milk the less processed it is.
We are taught that pasteurization is crucial and that it’s a means of protecting us from disease, but with modern machines and sterilization methods, it’s no longer necessary as it used to be. As stated in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, “all outbreaks of salmonella from contaminated milk in recent decades – and there have been many – have occurred in pasteurized milk.” She also states that “raw milk contains lactic-acid-producing bacteria that protect against pathogens.”
It’s common for people in the U.S. to be “lactose intolerant.” This means that they don’t tolerate dairy. They might experience a range of symptoms including stomach cramping, congestion, breakouts, or other similar symptoms. But consider for a moment the effect the hormones, additives, the cow’s nutrition and lifestyle, and the all around lack of proper nutrients the conventional milk may be having on you, rather than the fact that it’s dairy. Many of the cows today are fed soy, grains, and a multitude of other products that they simply weren’t designed to eat and digest. They are having negative reactions to it, so it isn’t surprising that we might have negative reactions to their milk. Something to think consider.
THEN WHAT DO WE DO??
Okay, I know this sounds like a lot of information. And it is! But there are a few simple things to remember and apply in order to consume the healthiest options for you and your family, and keep you as nourished as possible.
- See if your state offers raw milk options. Check and see if it is even an option near you to purchase raw milk. If so, go try it! It’s far more creamy and delicious than the processed version. Try for yourself!
- If raw milk isn’t accessible to you, go for the whole version. Go for the whole milk, raw cheeses, full fat yogurt and sour cream. Of course pace yourself, but the whole versions of these sources will benefit you by providing you the most possible nutrients, as well as healthy fats that your body needs to thrive. Listen to this: the fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. Milk is known to have A, D, and K, but when the FAT is removed from the milk, how are we supposed to absorb those vitamins? Milk is perfectly packaged, like eggs and certain vegetables and many other perfect foods, and we don’t need to alter it to make it better for us.
- Perhaps you actually are intolerant to dairy. All this being said, some people really do have an intolerance to dairy products and just don’t handle and digest it as well as other things. Pay attention to how you feel after consuming raw or whole milk products. If they don’t settle well, stay away from them for a period time and consider re-introducing them in the future to see how you react at a future time.
- Do your own research! These are my opinions on dairy after MUCH study and research. You are a very capable and smart human! If you have differing views, that okay! If you have questions, dig deeper and find your own answers and form an opinion of your own.
Fun fact: I have an obsession with cows. I think I get it from my Mama, she loves cows too. We used to have such a fascination as we passed them in fields on road trips (they’re almost ALWAYS facing the same way!). My kitchen is decorated with cows. My mother-in-law brings me a cow trinket for my kitchen often when she visits. So naturally I had to take a picture with this cow when we were at Cornbelly’s last fall.
Did you learn something from this post?? Let me know in the comments! I want to hear your thoughts!