Hard line paleo enthusiasts will say that dairy has no place in a healthy diet. Today though, there are many people doing their personal variation of paleo diets that suit their health goals and lifestyles, and for some that may or may not include forms of dairy like raw milk. Here we will explore what is behind the idea that dairy should be shunned, and what exactly raw milk is and whether or not it may be a good fit for you.
Dairy is one of those foods that seems to pendulate as to whether or not it is a healthy food. There are a handful of main points to discuss as to why you may want to avoid dairy as part of a healthy diet.
Cow’s milk is one of the top foods that cause allergic reactions in people, and a large part of the population also have an intolerance to the milk sugar lactose. Food allergies and intolerances cause gastrointestinal distress, inflammation , skin problems, and a myriad of other health issues. Given the extensive use of milk and milk powders in many processed foods, even for those that do not have an allergy to milk many still may be negatively affected due to an intolerance.
Unnecessary for Bone Health
If the media were the authority on all things health, you would think that you must consume dairy in order to have healthy bones. We have all seen the “Got Milk?” and other dairy council ads promoting milk for strong bones. Truth is, that many areas of the world such as Asia and Africa have some of the lowest rates of dairy consumption and also some of the lowest rates of osteoporosis. Bone health is not just about calcium; getting sufficient vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium as well as resistance training are all necessary for good, strong bones.
There are a wide variety of non-dairy calcium rich foods including bone broth , Bok Choy, sardines, and soy beans, most of which also contain a high amount of the other nutrients needed for bone health.
Often, dairy cows are given growth hormone in order to increase their milk production. There have been some links to drinking conventional milk and increase in insulin-like growth hormone (IGF-1). This is important because elevated levels of IGF-1 increase the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.
So what if you really, really, really just can’t or don’t want to give up drinking milk? This leads us to raw milk. What exactly is raw milk? Raw milk is milk that comes from pastured cows, that contains all of its natural fat and is unprocessed in any way; it is completely raw and unhomogenized.
Conventional milk you pick up at the grocery store has gone through a homogenization process that kills the pathogens and breaks up all the fat in the cream so that they suspend evenly in milk instead of separating and rising to the surface.
What Are the Benefits?
The problem that is seen with conventional, homogenized milk is that the very process meant to make milk safer actually eliminates beneficial bacteria that help prevent against allergies and aid in digestion, 2 reasons why many avoid dairy.
Because raw milk comes from cows that graze on grass it has a better nutrient profile including a higher levels of essential fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. Many people also report that it just tastes great, obviously this is individual opinion, but it could be because the fat profile is better, it creates a better taste.
Is Raw Milk For Me?
First things first, you need to find out if purchasing or obtaining raw milk is legal in your state. Laws vary and you can learn about laws where you live here .
Secondly, whether or not raw milk is part of your paleo diet is completely an individual decision. If you want to find out, the first step is to eliminate all dairy, we are talking milk, yogurt, butter, ice cream, cheese, and whey protein for 2-3 weeks.
Next, experiment with introducing raw milk into your diet and closely note any symptoms such as bloating, gas, skin breakouts, constipation, diarrhea, or change in energy levels over the next 48-72 hours to decide how well you tolerate it.
When it comes down to it, let your body and personal preferences be your guide. If you feel like you tolerate raw milk well, then it may be something that can fit in your regular diet, or even just as a treat. Most importantly though is to minimize any potential risk that is associated with drinking raw milk so if you wish to try it, be sure to find a safe source and know your farmers.