To drink milk,
or not to drink milk, is a question that isn't easily answered.
There are a lot of conflicting theories about dairy products, depending
on where you’re looking for your information.
- Dairy producers
will tell you that milk is good for you. They’ll also tell
you about all the good things they’ve done to it to make
it better – like pasteurising it (so you don’t get
food poisoning), homogenising it (so it’s creamy all the
way through), taking the fat out (so it's not creamy at all, to
save you from getting fat) and adding extra calcium (for prevention
of osteoporosis). They may not tell you that by pasteurising it,
they have destroyed the enzyme that enables you to absorb calcium,
so all that calcium is useless.
sites will tell you milk is food for baby cows, but is toxic poison
for people. They may not talk about areas of poverty where having
a cow and being able to rely on fresh, clean milk means the difference
between life and death.
- Others will
tell you that raw or cultured milk is good, but pasteurised or
homogenised is bad. They may not always be aware that some people
are so ill suited to drinking milk, that even the best quality
raw milk must be avoided.
As you can see,
the truth is a little more complicated. Let's look at all aspects
of the question, so you can make the best choice for you. There
are two main things you need to take into account – the quality
of the milk, and your individual tolerance to it.
|May 2006: I recently did an interview on
Raglan Community Radio, discussing some aspects of my Dairy
article. It can be downloaded
here. (Right click to download). It's a 22MB file, so
will take a while to download on a dial-up connection.
are the characteristics of good quality milk?
There are various
aspects to take into account:
- Type of
- Organic vs.
- A1 vs A2
- Type of cows
- Fat content
- Raw vs. pasteurised
of the milk depends on the quality of the feed. It is vital for
cows to be raised on pasture, eating grass or hay, with room to
roam about, and somewhere clean to rest and sleep.
NZ readers are
probably wondering why that needs to be spelt out, as that is how
all cows are raised in New Zealand. But that’s not the case
in all countries. In the US, for example, many cows are kept in
confinement, unable to find a clean place to stand or lie down,
never see the sky or breathe fresh air, and eat grains (or worse,
according to Fast
Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser!).
Cows are designed
to eat grass and are not meant to be fed on grain. Products from
cows fed grass contain much higher levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic
acid - a fat with cancer fighting properties), Omega-3 fats, beta-carotene,
vitamin A, and vitamin E than those those fed grains. For more details,
As well as feeding
cows inappropriately, factory farming methods may include:
the animals in spaces too small for them,
- feeding of
growth hormones such as rBGH (made by Monsanto), which causes
mastitis, a painful udder infection,
- and routine
feeding of antibiotics to prevent illness.
Meatrix video shows this more graphically than I can, so check
it out here.
(But remember to come back here for the rest of the article. Factory
farming is the just the beginning of the milk story.)
For decades, vegetarians and
vegans have been shunning meat and/or dairy products for animal
cruelty reasons. But to do that may be sacrificing your health unnecessarily.
Now also online is The
Meatrix II which begins to highlight some of the alternatives,
such as supporting small, local farms, eating free range eggs and
pasture raised dairy. [In NZ, cows and sheep are generally pasture
raised, but pigs and chickens are often confined. So it's important
for many reasons to buy free range eggs and organic, free range
chicken and pork.]
vs. non organic
grass that is eaten by cows make their way into the milk supply.
A healthy person’s liver can neutralise and eliminate such
toxins. But we’re exposed to lots of toxins in our modern
world. At some point your liver will get overloaded and be unable
to do it’s job properly. So it makes sense to eat organic
when you can (without stressing about it if you can't). This applies
to all foods, not just dairy.
Pesticides are usually herbicides (about 65% in NZ), fungicides
(20%) or insecticides (10%). In NZ, some of the residues that may
be in non-organic milk include DDT and organophosphates.
DDT has been used in NZ since the 1950s. It was banned in the US
in 1972, but not until 1987 in Australia and 1989 in New Zealand.
It was used in livestock farming here till the end of the 70's and
even longer in orchards and home gardens. DDT remains in the soil
for long periods of time, and residues are still being found in
milk and other products today, with Canterbury being particularly
affected. There is a level of DDT that is considered "safe"
and milk can be sold containing up to that level. Consider that
commercial milk comes from a variety of sources, and while some
are low in DDT, some could be quite high. When the milk is all mixed
together, the average level is below the cut-off point. But what
would be the ethics of selling milk known to be high in DDT, by
combining it with safer milk, if such a thing is happening?
In 2000, the Safe
Food campaign found that NZ children were exposed to five times
the pesticide residues that US children were. This is mostly from
and fungicides. Although the Ministry of Health felt that this was
not a problem, the Safe Food campaign felt it was a major health
issue and so do I!
of the milk is whether the beta-casein component of the protein
is A1 type or A2 type. Although it's not conclusive at this stage,
done at Lincoln University, in New Zealand, has shown correlations
between A1 milk and diseases such as heart disease and Type 1 diabetes.
These diseases have no such correlations with A2 milk.
all milk was A2. About 5000 years ago there was a mutation
in Europe and the A1 genes spread through cow herds. These days:
- Goats and sheep milk is equivalent to A2 milk, as is human milk.
- Heirloom breeds tend to have more A2, newer breeds - A1.
- Different countries have a different mix between the two. For
example, Iceland is mainly A2, where Finland is more A1. the level
of heart disease is higher in Finland.
- Masai and other African cattle only produce A2 milk, which is
significant when you consider that the Masai are very healthy
on a diet of mainly meat, blood and fermented milk, with little
There is some A2 milk and cream available in New Zealand, try your
Friesian cows are commonly used for producing dairy as they have
a higher milk yield. But more isn’t necessarily better. To
achieve this, they are bred to have higher levels of growth hormone,
which is undesirable for feeding to children, unless they have growth
prefer milk from Jersey or Guernsey cows (such as the one pictured),
which has these characteristics:
- It is usually
predominantly A2 milk
- Lower production
of milk per cow, which means the available vitamins are more concentrated
in the milk
- A higher
quantity of cream, so rich in the fat soluble factors
seems to have a superior taste
to your next question – but surely more cream and thus more
saturated fat is bad for me?
- Many people
are now purchasing low fat dairy products
under the mistaken belief that saturated fats, especially dairy
fats, are bad for you. In fact, traditional societies ate large
amounts of saturated fat and enjoyed excellent health. When they
started eating “western” food, their health declined
- Animal fat
is a good source of valuable vitamins such as A & D, which
are needed to assimilate calcium and protein. Many people believe
that betacarotene, found in plants, is the same as Vitamin A.
Beta-carotene can be converted to Vitamin A by most people, but
some people are unable to make the conversion or make it poorly,
especially infants & children (those who need it most) and
people with hypothyroid or diabetes. Fat is also needed to make
the conversion, so conversion can also be hindered by a low fat
- Fat, and vitamin A, are needed for the proper utilisation of
protein. Problems with too much protein are usually because lean
protein is being eaten, without the needed fat. Tribes studied
by Weston Price,
when on their native diets, knew to avoid lean meat, as it made
them ill, and would eventually kill them.
- It is widely
and inaccurately repeated that eating fat
makes you obese. Certainly
some fats are very unhealthy, but saturated fats and cholesterol
are needed by the body for building materials. It is mainly excess
carbohydrates (eg bread, pasta, sugar) that get stored as fat.
- The main
increase in heart disease has been since we started adopting low
fat diets. Many studies have shown that those people who eat most
saturated fats have the least heart disease.
- We are just
starting to learn about the role of certain fatty acids (such
as CLA - conjugated linoleic acid) and how they are vital to our
well being. For example, CLA isomer 9-11 (the isomer found in
milk) is being linked to and credited for its ability to fight
and prevent cancer cell growth. Our bodies cannot make these fatty
acids. CLA is only produced in ruminant animals and is only available
in any significant quantity in 100% grass fed ruminates.
- In Nutrition
& Physical Degeneration, Weston
Price talks about the health benefits of butter. In his studies,
he found a substance he called Activator X. At first he thought
it was Vitamin D, but found it had some different properties.
It is especially important in mineral utilisation, including building
tooth strength. The best source of it is butter from cows that
are consuming the fast growing spring grass.
is a process that breaks down butterfat globules so they don't rise
to the top of the milk. But by doing so the structure of the fat
There is a big
increase in surface area of the fat globules. The original fat globule
membrane is lost and a new one is formed that incorporates a much
greater portion of casein and whey proteins. Lipid scientist Mary
Enig thinks this may be one of the reasons modern processed milk
is a common allergen.
have hypothesised that these changes may account for the increases
in heart disease, but that hasn't been proven.
At this stage,
we just don't know how damaging the homogenization process is, and
can't be sure it's benign. So whether you choose raw or pasteurized
milk, avoiding homogenised milk is probably prudent.
We're told that
milk has to be pasteurised to kill pathogens and prevent disease.
- The practice
of heating milk to kill germs was instituted in the 1920s to combat
diseases caused by poor animal nutrition and dirty production
methods. But times have changed and modern production methods
make pasteurisation unnecessary for public protection. Pasteurising
kills harmful bacteria, but also destroys enzymes (including the
one needed for utilising calcium), diminishes vitamin content,
denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12, and vitamin
B6, kills beneficial bacteria and promotes pathogens. It is also
associated with allergies, diabetes, increased tooth decay, colic
in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis,
heart disease and cancer.
- You may have
heard stories of people getting sick from raw milk, due to pathogens
such as campylobacter, salmonella, e.coli and listeria. It can
happen, but is very rare in good quality, organic, grass fed,
raw milk. That is due to the natural disease-fighting enzymes
present in raw milk from healthy animals, some of which specifically
target salmonella and listeria, for example. In California,
one organic farm who produce raw, grass fed milk, deliberately
contaminated a batch of their milk (for testing purposes only!)
with millions of pathogens. Within a few days, they had nearly
all been neutralised. If pasteurised milk is exposed to pathogens,
on the other hand, it is far more dangerous, as there is nothing
to combat them. Nearly all cases of food poisoning are from eating
foods other than raw milk (generally foods that most people eat
with no concern), or from contact with non-food contaminants.
Often an illness is initially attributed to raw milk, but is then
traced to something else.
- There is
a small danger that people with very compromised immune systems
may occasionally contract a disease. But this is a much smaller
risk than that of developing a chronic illness due to the consumption
of pasteurized milk. And to offset it further, raw milk has potential
to build up the immune system of such people.
- A byproduct
of killing bacteria by pasteurisation is the formation of histamines.
This may be one reason that so many people have asthma or allergies
from drinking milk. Raw milk doesn't contain histamines, and many
asthmatics find that while drinking it regularly, they have no
or few asthma attacks.
raw milk was successfully used as a treatment for many illnesses,
including chronic diseases such as asthma.
- Calves fed
pasteurised milk do poorly and many die before maturity. Similar
effects have been observed with other animals. Early last century,
a scientist called Pottenger
conducted a series of feeding experiments on cats, over a 7 year
period. Those he fed on raw meat and raw milk thrived. Those fed
cooked meat or pasteurised milk quickly developed many diseases,
by the 2nd generation had stunted growth and high kitten mortality
rates, and by the 3rd were unable to reproduce.
benefits of switching from pasteurised to raw milk include:
If you want
to read more about raw milk, go to: www.realmilk.com
or get hold of The
Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid.
One reason that the big milk producers want to pasteurise the milk
is that it will keep longer. With raw milk, after a few days it
will sour naturally. It is still nutritious, but turns to a different
form. So with raw milk, you can always tell how fresh it is.
Pasteurised milk may already be several days old by the time it
reaches the supermarket. There is no way for you to tell how fresh
it is. You can tell when it's gone off though
- it turns putrid and undrinkable!
of what to look for
So if you’re
just looking at the quality of the milk, the best milk to buy is
- A2 milk,
or from Jersey cows, goats or sheep
If you can’t
get all of these, make sure it is at least pasture raised, non-homogenised
and full cream; and organic, if possible. In NZ, last time I checked,
there were three brands available commercially that had a non-homogenised
whole milk in their range - MeadowFresh, Naturalea Organic and Ecofarm
to find raw milk
It's not always easy to find raw milk, especially of a
quality you'd want to drink. In the US, each state has it's
own laws - raw milk is freely available in California and
Organic Pastures milk is of excellent quality, but in some
States, it's completely banned.
In NZ, it is theoretically legal to sell up to 5 litres
of raw milk at a time to each customer at the farm. But
in practice, the farmer may be required to comply with a
number of other bureaucratic measures first. Up to a point,
it's good that there is a requirement for some hygiene and
safety measures. But to me, it's bureaucracy gone mad, when
farmers comply with one standard (at substantial cost),
only to have the rules changed on them and be threatened
with prosecution if they don't then comply with the next
new, replacement regulation. This is making it difficult
for farmers to be able to afford to supply us with good
quality raw milk.
Many people have come to the conclusion that large dairy
processors are influencing government regulations in order
to protect their monopoly. In NZ for example, a giant processor
who would rather avoid paying farmers a fair price for their
milk, could use their substantial power to attempt to ensure
that farmers stay entrapped in the monopoly, earning in
the region of 25c a litre for milk that retails for nearly
$2. The over zealous enforcement of food regulations by
government bureaucracies protects the interests of this
huge export earning company, while denying the NZ public
the freedom to choose their own food, and NZ farmers the
right to choose how they sell their produce. Similar restrictive
patterns also apply to farmers producing many other foods.
If you find a farmer who is able to supply you with raw
milk, you may want to check out the farm yourself and make
sure you're happy with their procedures. Look for:
- Plenty of clean pasture
- Clean, healthy looking cows - not too fat or thin
- A farmer who is happy to answer questions about his
testing routine, and who would be happy for you to run
your own tests
- A farmer who is happy for you to talk to his other customers
- And of course, great tasting milk!
There is a way
to restore some quality to milk that isn’t as good as you
would like, and that’s by culturing (fermenting). Culturing
creates beneficial bacteria and yeasts which help maintain digestive
health. So even if you feel great on milk, consider trying some
ferments for additional health benefits. Traditionally, most cultures
who ate dairy products ate them in fermented form, as one of those
below or as cheese.
- The cultured
dairy you’re probably most familiar with is yoghurt (or
yogurt). But I’m not talking about the type of yoghurt that
has sugar, flavourings and skim milk powder added. I’m talking
about natural yoghurt, preferably full fat, with live cultures,
and no additives, made from the milk of grass fed cows. In NZ,
a couple of examples are Bio Farm Organic Acidophilus and Cyclops
European style (with the green lid). The beneficial bacteria in
yoghurt typically include Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus.
You have maybe heard that yoghurt with these live bacteria, or
a supplement containing them, is good for replenishing the good
bacteria in your gut after taking antibiotics.
- You can also
make your own yoghurt, using a good quality bought yoghurt as
a starter, or part of a previous batch.
- Another very
popular type of fermented milk is kefir. It is generally thinner
in consistency than yoghurt, a bit tangier, and yeastier in flavour.
It is easier than yoghurt to make at home, but you do need starter
"grains". The good news is that once you have your kefir
grains, they grow with each batch you make. So after a while you
have enough to share with friends. This means you can usually
get hold of some free, or just for the cost of postage. If you're
in NZ, email
me for a contact near you. If you're overseas, check out the
in Life website. Click here
to download instructions for making your own kefir. Kefir
is believed to come from the Northern Caucasus Mountains, and
has been used in what was formerly the USSR, and surrounding areas,
for 3 centuries. A great website with loads of information on
kefir is Dom's
"kefir in-site". His site has a full list of the
beneficial compounds typically found in kefir - Lactobacillus
acidophilus plus many others. (You may also see mail order
kefir kits for making kefir from a powdered starter. The product
you make from this starter is just as beneficial, but doesn't
reproduce. So if you can get them, grains are a better bet in
the long term.)
- Also available
is Caspian Sea yoghurt or viili. I'd heard about it before, but
only just got hold of some myself. It's even easier to make at
home - you just mix part of the last batch with your milk (about
10% starter), mix well, cover with something that will let in
the air and leave on the bench for 12-24 hours. It is thicker
and "gloopier" than either yoghurt or kefir with a mild
flavour. The beneficial bacteria are Lactococcus lactis subsp.
cremoris FC and Acetobacter orientaris FA, working together. Viili
originated in the Caspian Sea (so in the same area as kefir),
and was taken to Japan by a scientist working there who observed
how good it was for digestive health. It has been used widely
in Japan since then. If you're in NZ, email
me for a contact near you.
if I want to make goats milk yoghurt, kefir or viili?
make an acidophilus type yoghurt: Buy an organic
goat yoghurt and use that as a starter to make their own goat
milk yoghurt, using the same traditional recipe as you would
for cows milk.
make caspian sea yoghurt (viili): First you'll
need to get hold of a starter. Chances are you won't be able
to get goats milk, you will have to adapt a cows milk starter.
The first batch you make will be 10% cows milk, 90% goats
milk. Use this as your second starter, and (unless there is
someone else in the house who tolerates dairy) throw the rest
away. Your second batch will be 1% cow, 99% goat. By the third
batch it will be 99.9% goat and so on, until you only have
minute amounts of cows milk left. So when you can start using
it will depend on what your level of sensitivity to cows milk
is. If you're sensitive to homeopathic quantities, you may
never be able to have it.
make kefir: If you can't get "grains"
that have already been adapted to goat, get some that have
been used for cows milk and rinse them really well. Then use
them in the goats milk. It may not be possible to remove every
trace of milk from the grains, so you might want to throw
the first couple of batches away. Again, if you're sensitive
to homeopathic quantities, you may never be able to have it.
In that case, you could get a powdered starter from Wilderness
milk a suitable food for humans?
When thinking about whether a food might be suitable for humans,
a good rule of thumb is often to ask "Would (or could) my ancestors
have eaten this?"
Our ancestors originally ate what they could hunt or gather - wild
game, berries and fruit, greens and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Later when they were able to domesticate animals, dairy products
and eggs were added. Grains and legumes weren't commonly eaten till
humans settled in one place, instead of being nomadic, and were
able to regularly grow crops.
Goats and sheep were domesticated around 9000 BC, and cows around
7000 BC. So not a huge amount of time, in evolutionary terms. Some
of us have adapted to thrive on dairy,
and some don’t do well even on the best milk around.
We've already talked about the drawbacks of bad quality milk, now
let's look at possible drawbacks of good quality milk. The main
problem is that nature designed milk as a food for baby cows:
- Calves have very different digestive systems to either baby
or adult humans.
- The milk protein is different from the protein in human milk,
as is the type of fat. Goat and sheep milk are much closer to
human milk in composition than cows milk.
- And remember that no other species continues to drink milk beyond
There are two problems caused by this.
- One is that we don't have the right digestive system to digest
cows milk. So many people are unable to properly digest dairy
products, and undigested food leads to a variety of health issues.
This is one of the reasons for so many dairy allergies and intolerances.
(Another, of course, is the appalling quality of most commercial
milk, as discussed earlier.)
- The other is that even if we are able to digest it, it is a
high calorie food designed for fattening up growing juveniles.
So in practical terms, often people may feel really good on good
quality raw milk, but may find that that they put on weight. So
the milk is nourishing them - too well!
But we are evolving organisms, and SOME people, through need or
longer hereditary exposure have learned to be nourished by milk.
There is too much evidence of people regaining their health after
drinking good quality raw milk to discount the possibility.
People who do
well on milk could include:
- Some people
have ancestors who relied on milk for their protein and fat source,
such as those from India or the Swiss Alps. These people are likely
to actually need milk products.
- Some people
from the Middle East would have ancestors who drank goat or sheep
milk, and would do well on goat milk, but maybe not so well on
- Some people
can quite happily drink any kind of milk with no apparent ill
effects, but don’t really need it.
Others who may not necessarily be as well suited genetically, but
who may need the nutrients due to lifestyle choice or circumstance,
could be those who are unable to get adequate protein, animal fat
and fat soluble vitamins from their diets:
- Vegetarians, especially
those who don't eat fish. As well as protein and fat soluble vitamins,
animal products are the only source of Vitamin B12.
- People with limited financial resources may not be able to afford
meat regularly. Dairy products and eggs will help supply the necessary
- Adelle Davis, in her classic book from the 60's Let's
have Healthy Children, recommends raw or cultured, full
cream milk for all children. This would especially apply to those
infants who are unable to be breastfed, or children who are undernourished
due to poverty. For those who can't tolerate cows milk, she recommends
yoghurt or goat milk.
- In many third world countries, dairy products are vital for
An anecdote - When the US was first settled, it was a very
hard life, and many people had to return to England, as they couldn't
support themselves on the land. It wasn't until they were able to
keep cows and drink the milk, that enough people were able to stay
and remain in health.
you fall into one of these categories, you have lots of
variety. Once you choose the best quality milk you can find,
and get it home, there different ways you can use it:
As is, in smoothies or with cereal
into yoghurt or kefir, so that it has less lactose and
more beneficial acids
off the cream and either use it fresh, sour it, or make
it into crème fraiche or butter
it into cheeses
homemade ice cream, from cream, egg yolks, and natural
sweeteners and flavours
you’re lucky, you’ll be able to buy not only
raw, organic milk, but ready made raw butter, cream, and
ways you use your dairy produce will depend on your taste,
lifestyle and individual tolerances.
There are probably
not many people who actually NEED dairy, but as with grains, most
of us have come to like and want it. It can be a very convenient
food, but isn't always necessary. So we need to weigh up our habits
and wants against our body's need, consider the pros and cons and
make our own decisions. Only you can figure out whether dairy products
are beneficial, neutral or harmful for you, and make your choices
accordingly. After all, all manner of rubbish that we never evolved
to eat is sold under the guise of food in every supermarket.
levels of tolerance
If you don't
do well on milk, let’s look at the possible reasons. The first
to consider is that your problem is with processed milk. This could
be for several of the reasons discussed above under pasteurisation
- like not enough enzymes, or production of histamines.
So check that
out first. Get hold of some good quality, raw, grass fed milk and
try it out. For many people, that is the only change you need to
make. Once the issue of quality has been addressed, there is no
longer a problem.
Or even better,
get your good quality milk and culture it, and see how that is for
But if that doesn't help, and you really do have a problem, there
are several possible reasons, which can be broadly broken down into
- An allergy
to some component of dairy, eg. :
- An inability
to digest some part of the dairy, eg:
to digest complex carbohydrates
to digest dairy fats
- Just being
generally unsuited to milk metabolically
can I tell what kind of intolerance I have?
There is no hard and fast rule, you may have to do some
experimenting, but here are some indications.
If your problem is digestive - it is probably:
- lactose intolerance, or
- an inability to digest complex carbs, or
- an inability to digest dairy fat, or fat in general
If your problem is respiratory - it is most likely to be:
- a dairy allergy, most commonly to casein
If you can drink low fat milk with no problems, but full
fat milk makes you clog up, it is likely to be:
- a problem digesting or assimilating dairy fat, or
- an allergy specifically to the fat component of dairy
If you feel great when you include good quality raw dairy
in your diet, but seem to put on weight, it could be:
- a dairy allergy, most commonly to casein
- or just that dairy is too high in calories for your
If you don't have any particular symptoms, but just don't
feel that great on it, it is probably:
- causing an adverse shift in your metabolic balance ie.
you're just not well adapted to it metabolically, and
other foods suit you better
here about true allergies, where there is an Ig reaction of some
kind. (See the gluten intolerance page
for more details about the differences).
The most common is to casein, which is in all forms of dairy, and
is unaffected by fermenting. Some people are affected specifically
by the A1 casein, and can tolerate A2. But otherwise, your dairy
choices are restricted to possibly butter or ghee.
If it's the whey you're reactive to, you may be able to tolerate
Some people react to phenolics
(chemical compounds in dairy) . As far as I've been able to find
out, phenolics are not a problem if the milk is raw.
This is not
actually an allergy. Instead it is an inability to produce the enzyme
lactase, which is needed to digest lactose. People who can’t
digest lactose can sometimes drink:
- Goat or
sheep milk, which have less lactose
- Lactose free
milk, although this has been processed so has other drawbacks
milk, which has less lactose
Or you can
supplement with a capsule of lactase enzyme each time you eat dairy
Inability to digest complex carbohydrates
the Vicious Cycle, a book by Elaine Gottschall, explains
why some people are unable to digest complex carbohydrates, and
outlines a diet (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) that excludes the
offending carbs. People with a wide range of complaints including
colitis, Crohn's disease and autism have had success with this diet.
If you're gluten and dairy intolerant, and still having problems
once those foods are excluded, it may be worth trying the SCD for
Inability to digest fats
There are several possible reasons for being unable to digest fats:
- An inability to digest fats can, ironically, arise from a lack
of fat in your diet. Your body loses the need, and the ability,
to digest them. A digestive enzyme supplement can be useful temporarily,
when increasing the fat in your diet, to help make the adjustment.
- If you've had your gall bladder removed, your body has nowhere
to store bile between the time it's produced in the liver, and
the time you need it. You may need to permanently take a bile
supplement with meals.
- Your system may just have a need for less fat than some other
people. See the comments on metabolic typing below.
Not suited metabolically
We all have different metabolic
needs. The various types of metabolic typing have different
recommendations on dairy. For example:
- Wolcott recommends
full fat dairy for Protein types, and low fat for Carbo types
- McFerran doesn't recommend
dairy for anyone
- D'adamo only recommends
dairy for B blood types, and suggests other types strictly limit
If you just don't feel as good as you could, on dairy, and can't
track down any specific intolerance, keep it to a minimum. But still
use butter or ghee, as they are easily digested fats for most people.
to do if you can't have dairy at all
Back in Hunter
Gatherer times, our ancestors didn't eat dairy products or grains.
But we've got used to them being such a huge part of our modern
diet that we don't know what to do without them. On other pages,
we've talked about gluten intolerance and
what to do about it. For
some people, it's easier to give up wheat & gluten, than it
is to give up dairy.
Garden of Eating" by Rachel Albert-Matesz and
Don Matesz is an excellent cookbook full of delicious recipes for
a Hunter Gatherer diet. It's high in fruits and vegetables, nuts
and seeds, meat and fish, and without grains or dairy, and is a
For those of
you concerned about getting enough calcium, check out the calcium
page to see other foods that you can get it from.
In the meantime,
here's some ideas for substitutions.
- Some people
who can't take cow's milk, can drink goat or sheep milk. Or you
may find you can tolerate A2 milk.
I consider the best substitute to be coconut milk. It tastes good,
the fat is another good saturated fat,
with easy to assimilate medium chain fatty acids, and it can replace
milk quite easily in many (though not all) recipes - it makes
delicious custard for example. The most nutritious is that made
at home from fresh coconuts. But this is time consuming, so many
people use bought coconut cream or milk. Many brands have gums
added to stop the cream from separating, but often people with
other food sensitivities also react to gums. So look for a brand
that has no additives and hasn't been homogenised. Here in NZ,
I use Palm Island brand. If you're in the US, you might be able
to find it in glass bottles, which is generally better than tinned.
milks can work for some people. Homemade is best, as shop bought
ones usually have added sugar. To make your own:
from almonds, walnuts, macadamias, pecans, brazils (you
can also use cashews, but they can only be soaked for 4 hours
- If the
nuts are large, like brazils, chop roughly
1 cup nuts in 4 cups water overnight
- Use as
is, or flavour with vanilla essence, or add a little natural
- Some people
like rice milk, but for most people it is way too high in sugars,
carbs and additives
- The most
well known substitute, which many people believe to be the healthiest,
is soy milk. But I would advise you to avoid it as soy foods are
not the health benefit they have been advertised as being - read
more about that here.
Cream / Sour cream
- Undiluted coconut cream is really the only substitute I can
recommend for cream needed to complement a sweet dish. For a pouring
cream, use as is.
- For a whipping cream, open your tin of coconut cream, put into
the fridge in a glass container. When it is thoroughly chilled
and separated, scrape the thick cream off the top and beat in
a food processor. It won't come out quite as thick as whipped
cream, but should hold together. (But as with any new recipe,
practice this on the family, before trying it for guests!)
- For a savoury dip, think Middle Eastern dips like hummus or
Baba ganoush. Or try well mashed or beaten avocado as a base.
- Beat together some tahini with an equal
quantity of warm water that has had a pinch of sea salt dissolved
in it. Beat till fluffy, and refrigerate for about 4 hours till
thick. Use as is as a sour cream substitute on baked potatoes
for example, or add extra flavourings such as lemon juice or garlic
and make a dip or pouring sauce. (You can make nut butters fluffier
like this too).
- Butter is
the most necessary of the dairy products, as it is in the fat
that all the most beneficial nutrients are found. Some
people who have trouble with other dairy products can eat butter
with no ill effects. So try that first. You may even like to try
making your own, from good quality raw cream. Here's
how to make butter.
- If that's
no go, next is to try ghee, also called clarified butter. Homemade
is best as you can control the quality yourself, and it's fairly
easy to make. Here's
how to make ghee. In some places, you can also buy butter
oil, which is similar. All of the critical nutrients are concentrated
in the butter oil or ghee. Butter oil is more concentrated, and
hasn't been heated, so also contains Wulzen factor, also known
as anti-stiffness factor.
- If even ghee
causes a reaction, you still have some options, depending on what
need you want to fulfill.
- To spread
on bread, so your toast or sandwich isn't dry and unappetising,
try extra virgin olive oil, nut butters, avocado, hummus or
- For baking,
try coconut oil or palm oil for sweet and palm oil or olive
oil for savoury.
- On the Yahoo GFCFNN (gluten free, casein free, native nutrition)
board, many people experienced some new health problems, often
hormonal, when they cut out dairy. Although
there isn't a complete substitute for the health benefits
of butter, bacon fat or lard seemed to be best for alleviating
- If you feel
good on the coconut milk, try coconut ice cream. It's a bit icier
than dairy ice cream, but still delicious. Click on this
link and scroll down for an ice cream recipe from Bruce Fife's
Lovers Cookbook" and some other coconut recipes.
- If you don't
need to be on a carb controlled diet, fruit sorbets can hit the
spot on a hot day.
- Or for a
quick sorbet, zizz together in the food processor: a chopped frozen
banana, some coconut oil, some vanilla essence, a pinch of sea
salt, and some natural sweetener
such as honey or maple syrup. Eat straight away. You can also
add extras such as cocoa, carob or pecans for different flavours.
This is probably the trickiest and nothing really works. The best
that the amazing people on the GFCFNN board can come up with is:
- Corn polenta, maybe with chopped up sausage and herbs, or
- Lardo - which is made by burying lard or other animal fat in
Whatever you do, though, avoid soy cheese,
for all the usual reasons soy is undesirable.
If you're in Wellington, NZ, and think you may have allergies
to gluten, casein or other foods, contact
me for a free 15 minute consultation to go through your options.
This page is also posted online here with pictures:
Do your own analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of dairy products,
as only you know your own level of tolerance and need. But as a
rough rule of thumb, here's what I'd suggest:
- Avoid processed milk if you possibly can
- If you're currently using it and feel fine:
- Consider trying out raw milk if you can get it
- Otherwise, make your own kefir, or stick to fermented dairy
like cheese or yoghurt
- If you're currently using it and think it may be causing problems:
- Stop dairy completely for a while and see how you feel
- If there's an improvement, see if you can have raw dairy,
or fermented dairy without the problems recurring
- If you're not using dairy as you react badly to processed dairy:
- You may want to try out raw dairy to see if you can tolerate
- If you're not able to tolerate any dairy at all, look for other
ways to get the nutrients recommended by Weston Price.