Why miss out on all that traditional creamy goodness
Why miss out on all that traditional creamy goodness
Dairy is an interesting category; surprisingly it's chock full of issues and counter intuitive choices. Many folks avoid dairy altogether but the creamy joys of dairy can be had, along with the health benefits, if you are willing to jump through a few hoops.
Your quick hit food list is here. Scroll further down for the full scoop...
Yogurt - from grass fed animals, choose goat over cow if you have a choice. Seek out full fat only, plain with no added sugar or "fruit" preserves. Just add your own fresh fruit instead.
Kefir - A traditional European dairy product now available in grocery stores here. It's like yogurt but it contains a greater variety of gut healthy cultures and its pourable, wonderful on fresh fruit. Choose plain to skip the added sugar.
Butter - if it's from grass fed cows it's a good fat that can be used in moderation. Real butter adds awesome flavor to everything from veggies to popcorn. Gotta be from grass fed cows though. Kerry brand is widely sold in the USA.
Cheese - European style cheese made from raw milk from grass fed animals is a wonderful accent to many dishes. Not a meal or even a snack though so don't go crazy.
Cream / Half n Half - grass fed is the gold standard. makes coffee a delight and whipped cream turns sliced fruit into dessert.
Organic Low Fat Yogurt - this will do in a pinch, at the hotel breakfast buffet for instance. Organic means the cows were fed an unnatural all grain diet but at least it was organic grain. Not as good as grass fed. Low fat is not optimal either. Choose plain to avoid the fruit jelly / added sugar.
Organic Cream or Half n Half - Same as above. Cows were fed grain but at least it wasn't laiden with lots of chemicals.
Ice Cream - they say it exists - ice cream from grass fed cows, high fat / low or no sugar, made just like the old days. Make it yourself and do small portions with lots of fresh berries.
Whey Protein Powder - touted as a excellent protein with some good human health studies behind it. Like all processed food though the devil is in the details.
Does it come from grass fed animals and is cold processed / undenatured? or is it cheap CAFO milk that's "spray dried" with heat which is linked to oxidation. Caution and research...
Milk - skip 2% milk and especially skim. It's a long long way from fresh raw milk and that was meant for baby cows anyway. See more by scrolling down a bit.
Fake cheese - American "cheese", nacho sauce, Velveeta, etc - it's processed crap to be avoided.
Powdered milk - Highly processed often using high heat spray drying which changes its chemical make up and not for the better.
Soy "milk" - not a dairy product, highly processed, questionable nutritional value, lots of additives, etc.
Fake Cream / Creamers - cheap industrial oils plus sugar. Nope.
Cool Whip - a fake food made with synthetic ingredients. Buy grass fed cream, add a pinch of Stevia and make your own delicious nutritious whipped cream.
Mooo, Baaa, Yummmmm
Mooo, Baaa, Yummmmm
To Dairy or Not, that is the question...
These days many folks are dropping dairy altogether. And that's ok because contrary to decades of marketing and intense lobbying - dairy is an optional food category and not a requirement.
But if you love the creamy goodness and beautiful flavors dairy offers fear not - there are plenty of healthy options.
Yogurt, kefir, butter, cream and cheese. Always grass fed and always full fat. The short answer on dairy is to just stick with those and skip the rest and you'll likely be a happy camper.
Is Dairy Right for You?
How well you tolerate dairy in part comes down to your ethnic heritage. If your family tree emanates from a cooler part of the globe, like northern europe where they have been herding / consuming dairy for 10,000 years, that's long enough for you to be genetically adapted to consuming it.
Your dairy tolerance will also be affected by the type of dairy and how it was processed. A good example is yogurt and kefir. Kefir a healthier version of yogurt with 3 times the healthy "good bacteria" are well tolerated by most people. Those good bugs have eaten much of the lactose and added lots of vitamins and nutrients in exchange. that's a big win for us eaters.
Liquid milk (2% / skim / whole) is quite a different story. Pasteurized, homogenized, fractionalized - it's highly been processed and is missing many natural components that would help us digest it if they were still there.
Do a Self Check - The Elimination Diet
If you are wondering if dairy is right for you - do a simple test. Stop eating all dairy of any kind for 3-4 weeks. Then pay attention. Do your sinuses clear up, fewer headaches, less acne, stomach feel better? Then reintroduce it and note any changes in how you feel. Did some of that stuff return within hours?
For some it's a big shift and obvious that for them dairy is indeed an issue. For others, likely healthy folks with northern EU heritage there will be no shift at all.
Regardless, if you eat dairy, eat real dairy, stuff you know is grass fed, full fat, no hormones, no antibiotics.
We all need calcium but contrary to the ad campaigns, it turns out there are many better choices for calcium than dairy. Leafy greens are a good example - high in calcium and so many other critical nutrients, low in calories, high in flavor. The calcium in milk by contrast is not very bioavailable. If you are chasing calcium look beyond dairy.
There is a reason why most all traditional herding societies fermented their dairy creating yogurt, kefir, etc - it adds lots of happy bacteria to your gut, it partially breaks down lactose and pre digests the casein thus greatly improving dairy's nutritional profile and people's ability to tolerate it. It also bumps up the nutrition while adding flavor.
Why Grass Fed?
Excellent question! Why the stern admonishment to eat only full fat / grass fed dairy?
Cows have always eaten grass. As soon as they were weaned it's all they eat their whole natural life. Like all rumens they are highly adapted to it. Grass fed cows are healthy cows.
The Fat is Where It's At
All the nutrition from eating fresh green grass - beta carotene, CLA, ALA - it all gets concentrated in the milk fats. To get that nutrition you want full fat dairy, from grass fed animals. This applies to goats too, their milk, cheese, kefir and yogurt are delicious and nutritious too.
Feed lot cows are fed GMO grains, grains laden with chemicals like pesticide, herbicides, fungicides etc. They are also forced to eat other stuff which we will not even go into here. Grains open a cow's digestive track to increased risk of e coli and thus antibiotics are routine. Growth hormones like BGH are also proscribed.
Thus feedlot cows produce milk that contains many chemicals and farless nutrition - not a good deal for us eaters. Feed lot animals also produce much more methane and smelly sewage lagoons too, not nice.
Grass Fed cows meanwhile are happily walking from pasture to pasture benefitting from the sunshine and fresh air, fertilizing the green fields as they go. Now that's where we want our dairy to come from.
Yummy Yogurt Facts
Believe it or not there is a National Yogurt Assoc and they have created a "Live and Active Cultures" seal of approval. When you see that phrase on container of yogurt you can rest assured you are getting lots of good bacteria
Kefir – 10 different probiotics = 589.68 billion probiotics per 8oz. serving (average)
Yogurt – 4 different probiotics = 340.2 billion probiotics per 6oz cup (average)