In Defense of Dairy...
Today, I’d like to talk about one of the most taboo topics in the health space today. Dairy. Should
we drink it? Are we meant to drink it? Does it even have nutritional value? All things I will cover in this article.
Before I go spouting off crazy claims on this incredibly controversial food group, allow me to
introduce myself. My name is Miriam Schauer, certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP). This is basically a fancy word for a Nutritionist, but to be real with you guys, I think NTP just sounds cooler. I have been self taught up until about a year ago when I finally decided to go to school and get certified so that I could work with people and share my knowledge, and hopefully change lives for the better. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff. The good stuff being dairy, that is.
Dairy actually fits into my own personal health journey as well. I used to struggle immensely with
acne. When I say struggle, I mean it. It was rough. Cheekbones, jawline, forehead, chin, you name it, I had acne there. When I got to the point of desperation that I actually researched my diet and if that could have an effect, the number one thing that was shown in every health and nutrition article was dairy. “Dairy is inflammatory” they would say. “We are the only species who drinks another mammal’s milk” they scream. I thought, “hmmm. Yes that makes sense.” So—dairy was out.
To my benefit, it worked! For a time. My acne cleared up, to a certain extent, and as a result my
self esteem skyrocketed. Finally, no more acne. Dairy is the worst, they were right.
Fast forward two months, my acne returned. I wouldn’t say worse than before, but it came back,
nonetheless. I was so confused. I was doing everything right, or so I thought.
So there I was, back to square one. Not knowing where to go from here. This sent me on a
hopeless quest looking for any other answers, leading me to give up meat, gluten, eggs, the list goes on—but I’m not here to talk about all that today, so that will be a story for another time.
Now, my diet looks like a lot of animal proteins, eggs, and—you guessed it—dairy. I drink raw
milk, straight from the cow to jar, and I put a raw egg yolk in my coffee. Yeah, I’m pretty much insane, I get it.
So what is the deal with dairy? Well, let's first address the number one argument I see in defense
of those who don’t drink milk. One that I even used to make myself. To say that we are “the only other species that drinks milk from another mammal" would perhaps be true, but it is also true that we are the only species who can drive a car or file our taxes. We are undoubtedly the most “sophisticated” of species, so that would make this argument, in my opinion, null and void. It’s also worth pointing out that if you were to put a bowl of cow’s milk out for, say, a cat, you would find that they would in fact drink it. So... just something to think about.
Moving on—let’s cover the basics of dairy and our digestive system. In order for our bodies to
successfully digest and utilize the benefits of dairy, we need to be producing what’s called a “lactase enzyme”. This very important enzyme is what helps us break down lactose, which is the sugar in dairy. Here’s the catch—our bodies stop producing this enzyme when we are in a chronically stressed state, or we aren’t consuming dairy regularly. This is why a lot of people end up developing “lactose intolerance” later in life.
Our body’s number one priority at all times is keeping us alive. When we find ourselves in a
chronically stressed state for an extended period of time, our bodies will stop producing the lactase
enzyme because it doesn’t see it as essential for our survival. Crazy stuff.
Another thing to point out is that most of the dairy that’s on the market today is very poor in
quality. It’s taken from cows that are fed GMO corn and soy, which will wreak havoc on your hormones, and most of the time the cows are kept in an incredibly unsanitary environment. Then to top it off, you’ll see on almost all milk cartons, “fortified with Vitamin A and D”. Sounds like a great thing, right? Wrong. These are not real vitamins. They are a synthetic form of the vitamin, which does not get utilized the same within the body. In fact, synthetic Vitamin D actually depletes Vitamin A, and Vitamin D can’t function properly in the body without Vitamin A. So whether or not you think synthetic D would be beneficial, it would be pointless to take, considering it’s depleting the one thing it needs to actually be utilized. This does not go for whole food supplements like Cod Liver Oil.
The other thing with conventional dairy is that it is pasteurized. I know this can be a touchy
subject as well, but it’s important to note that when dairy is pasteurized, all of the beneficial vitamins, minerals and enzymes are destroyed, including the lactase enzyme. So if you do drink pasteurized milk, it’s even more important to consume it in a “rest and digest” state.
So what can we do? Look for a milk that isn’t fortified with any Vitamins. Some brands that come
to mind are Kalona Supernatural, and some Organic Valley milks. Better yet—look for a raw milk supplier near you. You can find a farm near you at realmilk.com, or perhaps talk to some Farmer’s Market vendors and see who they might know. Raw milk contains a plethora of nutrients, including the lactase enzyme, so if you are lactose intolerant, you may do well on raw milk.
Some of the main benefits of raw milk would be the following:
- Lot of bio-available protein.
- Easy to digest sugars (fuel for your metabolism).
- Rich in fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) which are crucial for our cells and fertility.
- High in quality saturated fats which help repair the gut.
- Contains a small amount of naturally occurring progesterone, critical for hormone
- Great source of calcium.
All this to say, it’s important to clear with the farm that the cows are primarily grass fed, the
cows are kept in a sanitary environment, don’t even be afraid to ask if they drink the milk themselves! Request a farm tour, whatever you need to do to have peace of mind. I have been drinking raw milk for over a year and have had a great experience. A healthy pregnancy and birth, clear skin, toned muscles, the list goes on. I do a lot of other things to achieve this, but I accredit much of it to raw dairy products. I would highly encourage looking into the work of Dr. Weston A. Price if you feel wary about this concept. I’ll include some links at the bottom for anyone wanting to learn more about him and his work.
If you are someone who has cut out dairy for weeks, months, even years, that’s okay! You can still
incorporate dairy into your diet. It just needs to be done carefully. I would suggest starting with some hard cheese, preferable parmesan reggiano. This is a fairly easy to digest form of dairy, making it a gentle way to reintroduce it into your diet. Eventually, your body will start to produce the lactase enzyme again.
Another thing you can try is intaking a small amount of milk each day, slowly working your way
up to the amount that you are looking to consume on a daily basis. Say you want to get in one glass of milk a day, start with one tablespoon of milk per day for a week, then do two tablespoons for a week, and so on, until you reach a full glass. Bio-individuality is important to remember here. Don’t be afraid to adjust this sort of protocol to your own body. If you intake two tablespoons and it makes you feel ill, bump it back down to one tablespoon awhile longer. Listen to your body’s cues and adjust what you’re doing accordingly.
If any of this resonated with you, feel free to check out my instagram (@sincerelymir) where I
share more about the benefits of dairy and other things. I’m also taking 1:1 clients. You can go ahead and email me at email@example.com or fill out the contact form found on www.sincerelymir.com if you are interested in working together.
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