Wednesday 30 October 2013

Dairy do's and don'ts

So apparently my last blog was s*#t-house. I know this because I had a conversation wih my best friend that went like this:

Her: You haven’t done a blog in a while
Me: I did one last week!
Her: On coconut? That wasn’t a blog.
Me: So it wasn’t good?
Her: How many comments did you get?
Me: (staring squinty-eyed seeing where she is heading with this one. Less than usual, for the record)
Her: I’m just saying it wasn’t your best

Harsh but fair. You see when you have been friends for 17 years, there is no bulls#*tting or beating around the bush.

Wow! I have already sworn twice. And it’s only the beginning! Hold onto your seats friends – this one is going to be a doozy! Just kidding, I promise* not to swear any more.


So I proceeded to ask what I should write about.

“Are solariums beneficial?”

She has been asking me to write about this for a while now. She wants me to say yes. I’m still a little wary.

“Dairy! Talk about dairy!”

Then we had a conversation about how dairy can cause skin problems for us both. Next, we proceeded to devour a square of dark chocolate covered with a thick dollop of raw cream….And so the story begins….


Image via Pixie Market, pinterest

 Well, in a nut-shell. It depends. It depends on the product, and it depends on YOU. Everyone is different. What is right for your friend, might not be right for you. What works for you now, might not work for you next year. Let’s take a few steps back.

Is dairy “paleo”?

Well, no according to most. HOWEVER some traditional tribes do rely on dairy for a large proportion of their diet, such as the Maasai from Africa. And they are some pretty healthy people. Trust me – I’ve met them. I’ve seen them jump. And man – can they jump! Check it out:

Check out that jump! Image link HERE

Is dairy healthy? 

It depends. Are you getting frustrated yet with all this indecisiveness? Keep your panties on. I’ll explain myself.

The dairy that most of us consume is pasteurized, homogenized cow’s milk from animals that may have been fed on grain (rather than grass) and kept in less than optimal cow-friendly conditions (i.e. not grazing peacefully on roaming pastures). Herein lies the basis of the vegan argument against grain. But as you know, I’m no vegan. 

Nutritionally, here are the problems with the milk we consume:

1. Homogenisation – squeezes all of the fat globules through tiny little holes to make them smaller and evenly dispersed throughout the liquid. They say this makes the milk “creamier”. I say this damages the fat molecules in the milk and makes it harder for our bodies to digest.

2. Pasteurisation – heats the milk at high temperature in order to kill off all of the bacteria. They say this makes the milk “safer to drink”. I say “you morons – you’re killing the good with the bad!”. You see, real, unprocessed milk is loaded with beneficial bacteria that can aid digestion, immune function and overall health. Pasteurisation also destroys the enzymes naturally present in the milk that help us to digest the sugars, namely lactase, which helps us digest lactose. Interestingly, many people who are “lactose intolerant” report being able to tolerate raw dairy products.

If you want to learn more about the processing of milk, you can watch this incredibly boring video, which has some awesome 80's music at the end. 

3. Grain-feeding – cows eat grass. They say “it is cheaper and provides more energy-dense calories”. I say “f#*k you”. Sorry. But this really bothers me, for a few reasons:

1.    A) Cows eat grass! They have 4 stomachs, designed specifically to digest grass. Not soy. Not corn. Grass! When fed grain, they get fatter faster. This disrupts the fatty acid profile, leading to a high proportion of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and a lower proportion of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Did you know that grass-fed beef is an excellent source of omega-3, second to wild salmon? No? Well there you go. OK back on track – feeding grains to cows can lead to a disruption in their gut bacteria, promoting bad bacteria, rather than good. If your cow eats grain, you probably want to pasteurise its milk.
2.    B) Feeding cows grains requires large amounts of land to grow grains. Hello vegan argument slipping back in. Rolling pastures and forests are being cleared to make way for the growing of these grains. This means less space for grass and trees and rivers and a multitude of creatures that make up an ecosystem. One big argument against milk/meat production from cows is that they contribute to global warming by producing methane gas. What do you think trees and grass do? They sequester carbon and improve global warming! Do you see how this could all work if we just let nature do its thing?
3.    C) As these cows are not eating their normal diet, they are more likely to get sick. Sick cows often need treatment – with antibiotics, and just like in humans, antibiotics really mess with your gut health. Moral – you can’t get health from a sick animal!

I strongly encourage you to watch this short TED talk by Allan Savory, explaining how we can help heal the planet with hooved animals (e.g. cows). If the video doesn't show up below, go HERE

Alrighty then, now that we have established most of the down-sides (there are more) of your run-of-the-mill store-bought milk, let’s talk about when dairy can be healthy. This is why I don’t write blog posts very often – they just get too long!

Raw milk. Are you scared? First off, if you’re concerned about the health risks associated with raw milk, I suggest you check out Chris Kresser’s blog series HERE. Second, I am not telling you to drink raw cows milk, as that would be illegal. Note you should NOT drink raw cows milk.**

This is me winking at you, via this awkward shot of Robert Pattinson.
Image by Nona Adams via pinterest

Raw dairy, from well-raised, well-fed and well-treated cows can be an incredibly nutrient-dense food. That’s why the Masaai can jump so high (this may or may not be true). Here’s just a few reasons why raw milk trumps crappy-processed milk every time:

11. It is rich in beneficial bacteria, which promote healthy digestion, strong immune function and happy hormones. Health (and disease) begins in the gut. Pretty sure some dude named Hippocrates said that a few years back.
22. It contains enzymes intact. As I mentioned above – raw milk has lactase, which helps digest lactose, the predominant sugar in milk
33. It is a great source of vitamins A, D and K2, all important for bone health. I know what you’re thinking – “what about calcium?” Yes, raw dairy is a great source of calcium and is more bioavailable (easier for us to “use”) than the calcium in processed dairy
44. It is loaded with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which studies are showing may potentially play a beneficial role in many chronic diseases, as well as improving body composition. Side note: it’s more abundant in the meat than the milk
55. Colostrum. Sometimes referred to as the “magic milk”, this is also produced by humans  and is full of immunoglobulins, antibodies, prebiotics, probiotics, growth factors and sugars that help with immunity.
66. It is a great source of bioavailable protein and is loaded with healthy fats

On the subject of calcium, if you’re having your milk (raw or processed) with cereal or coffee, you probably aren’t going to absorb much of this vital mineral, as there are components in these foods (tannins, phytates, lectins etc) that inhibit absorption. Your best bet is to throw it into a smoothie, drink it straight, or make yoghurt/kefir with it.

Right, so we have covered a lot (but not as much as I would have liked to). Moral to the story – dairy can be good and bad. If you can tolerate cows milk and want to try raw milk, I strongly encourage you to know where it is coming from. Ideally, you want it straight from the source, so try and hunt down a local farmer who will let you milk his cow in the wee hours of the morning. If you don’t tolerate cows milk, try goat/sheep. I’m no good with cows milk, so I stick with raw goat milk, which is easier to obtain too. If you’re allergic to milk, perhaps stay clear, but you probably already knew that. But remember, I'm not telling you that you should drink raw milk anyway, as it is illegal.**

Oh, one last thing – full fat all the way! The fat is important to absorb the vitamins, minerals and protein. It also slows down absorption and helps improve satiety, which may aid in weight management. 

Phew. Any questions feel free to comment below! And apologies again for the persistent swearing. I’m working on it. Much love to all! x

**UPDATE: When I say raw milk is "illegal", I mean it is illegal to sell (at least in Australia, but I believe the situation is similar in the US and other countries). It is not illegal for you to drink it (i.e. it is not quite in the same department as cocaine....yet). 

Links to where I pulled some of this mumbo-jumbo from (the rest is from my own noggin):


  1. Very enjoyable and informative post, Kate. I thought I should get in with a comment so you keep more blogs coming our way ;) Chantel

  2. Hi, can you post your references please Kate. Would like to know more. Thanks

    1. Hi David,

      Sorry for the late reply - see links above for the references. Let me know if you have any questions!

  3. Great post!

    One correction - raw cow's milk is legal to drink everywhere in America. Not sure if you meant to say it's illegal to drink in some other country, but you might want to correct that as lots of people could be misled.

    It is illegal to sell in some states so you must work to find it, but legal to drink in every state.

    1. Thanks Charlotte,

      I am in Australia, but you are correct - it is the same situation here. Legal to drink, illegal to sell/promote. Thanks for the correction!

  4. wow cannot believe it is illegal. What a Nanny state we live in. I would like to try raw dairy products but have literally never seen it anywhere. We do not have a cow. Or access to a milking one. Instead we drink organic full fat milk without added sugar as much as possible. And almond milk.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Yes it is sometimes hard to come by if you don't know a farmer. Organic full fat milk is your best choice of the pasteurised variety.

  5. This is really very useful post. Sometimes we don't know about facts of Dairy.

  6. Dear KATE! I think you're DARLING. I like the wit and affection in your writing, and I like the content you share as well. I found your blog from LinkedIn, in the wellness professionals group, and I'm glad I decided to take a spin here. I'm not 100% paleo, but I value what I have learned from the W.A.P. approach. I would possibly be concerned about your kombucha mixed with vodka drink -- we can later discuss why... but I'm SUPER into fermented foods, and just recently have a way to export mine from the U.S. (Finally!) I invite you to be one of the few, but growing number of members of our online Longevity Community. You can put up a personal and professional profile... with all your links, etc.

  7. I said "few members" but I meant "few international members" so far, because here in the U.S. we are several hundred... a wee more than a few.

  8. Sorry, here's the link I forgot to include to go with one of my previous comments:

    Thanks again, Kate, for a very uplifting read!

    1. Hi Tracy,

      Thanks so much for reaching out! I am very glad you enjoyed my blog! The Longevity Community looks fantastic! Do I just go to "sign up" via the link you provided?