To dairy or not dairy? That is the question. Some people say “yay,” others say “nay.”
In recent years, full fat grass-fed dairy has made a comeback within the wellness world as an exception to the “no dairy” hype of days of old.
Although conventional AND fat-free dairy is typically correlated with “poor gut health” due to lactose (milk sugar) and lactose intolerance, FULL-FAT, grass-fed, raw dairy sources reportedly do NOT have as many “negative side effects” as conventional sources. Moreover, some dairy foods are actually “gut healing” probiotic rich foods, including kefir and yogurt.
Why is grass-fed, raw dairy easier to digest than other dairy?! A few reasons:
1. Grass-Fed=Healthier Animals.
Raw milk comes from cows that graze on grass. Some evidence suggests that milk from these cows is likely to have higher levels of fat-soluble vitamins and other nutrients. Cows fed fresh green forage, especially those grazing grass, have been shown to have higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and essential fatty acids in their milk. Conventional milk on the other hand typically comes from unhealthy factory farm cattle. Conventional cows are often fed an unnatural diet, not allowed free movement or sunlight, and treated with antibiotics and hormones, making their milk MORE allergenic and LESS friendly to your body.
2. Non-Pasteurized (Not Heated).
Pasteurization is what makes dairy a “processed food.” The process of heating dairy reduces and destroys many of the natural nutritional properties of milk, making it less absorbable and digestible. While pasteurized milk does retain some level of nutritional value, it seems that unpasteurized milk is superior in vitamin and mineral content overall.
3. It’s REAL.
Your body KNOWS how to digest REAL foods, and most people who consume raw, grass-fed dairy, compared to conventional dairy, report increased tolerance. In fact, the Weston A. Price Foundation conducted an informal survey of over 700 families, and determined that over eighty percent of those diagnosed with lactose intolerance no longer suffer from symptoms after switching to raw milk.
4. MORE A-2 Proteins.
Casein protein (dairy protein) is composed of two forms of protein—A1 and A2. Many individuals diagnosed with lactose intolerance are UNABLE to digest A1, a protein most often found in milk from many of the Holstein-breed of cows used for our conventional dairy products (i.e. Yoplait yogurt, generic brand milk). However, A2 protein (typically found in goats, sheep, humans, humanely-raised cows, about 65-percent of Jersey cows, and a few other varieties) is NOT the traditional cow milk and noted to be easier to digest.
5. Natural Probiotic Composition (i.e. Healthy Bacteria).
Raw, grass-fed dairy sources contain bacteria (probiotic) properties associated with a healthier overall gut microbiome and balance—especially kefir and yogurt, which are prepared as fermented foods.
So should you DO the dairy?
Be the experiment. Visit a farmer’s market to try a real, grass-fed source of yogurt or milk if you can find it, make your own yogurt at home (from grass-fed raw milk or coconut milk), or try grass-fed goat’s milk and sheep’s milk products instead.
If you have OTHER underlying gut issues that are still being addressed, you may find dairy still does not agree with you, but others may be pleasantly surprised.
Every BODY is different. Do you.