Dairy, much like gluten, has been deemed by the health food culture as a “bad food.” Some studies have linked dairy products to just about everything from food intolerances to weight concerns, fatigue, mood instability and more.
Others put forth compelling research that links dairy to numerous health benefits and tout it as an essential food for optimal health.
With both camps citing conflicting studies, the truth about dairy is confusing to say the least.
Don’t miss this report where I shed much-needed light on a very perplexing issue and reveal an amazingly simple solution to the problem of pasteurization and homogenization. It’s been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years, and now it’s available in every grocery store.
In this week’s article, take The Dairy Test and find out if you are truly unable to digest dairy and why!
The Dairy Test
- Buy organic heavy whipping cream and organic skim milk.
- Dilute the whipping cream with water and use it on your favorite cereal and note how it makes you feel.
- One the next day, try drinking half a glass of skim milk and note the results.
Whipping cream is devoid of casein and lactose, which causes most dairy digestion issues. If you feel bad from the cereal with diluted heavy whipping cream, it indicates a likely issue with your ability to digest fats. Whipping cream is 100% fat. This kind of fat digestion problem may lie in your liver, your gallbladder, or bile flow.
Skim milk is low in fat but loaded with casein and lactose. A problem here may very well be indicative of a lactose or casein issue. To solve this we must strengthen the digestive acid in the stomach where these are broken down.
Read the rest of this article to fully understand the dairy query!
Dairy Is Not Required
It should be clear that there are many cultures around the world that do not eat dairy products. Most of preindustrial Africa and Asia, with the exception on India and Hindu cultures, rarely consumed milk. That being said, Northern European cultures have been healthily eating dairy for thousands of years.
Even though dairy has been healthily ingested and even used as medicine for thousands of years, it is not required to eat dairy products in order to be healthy and properly nourished. Raw milk, as nature intended, is a very good source of fat soluble vitamins and protein that Northern Europeans, Indians (of India) and many other cultures used. Below I describe how traditional cultures solved many of today’s dairy problems thousands of years ago with Ayurvedic principles.
DNA evidence extracted from Neolithic skeletons indicates that in 5500 BC, people in Northern Europe, as all other peoples of the time, were also lactose intolerant (2)! Earthenware vessels found in England and dated to 4500 BC contain milk byproducts, indicating milk was used in some form, although perhaps not drunk directly (3).
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance:
The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance usually begin 30 minutes after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose. Common signs and symptoms include nausea, sinus congestion, abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, and loose bowels.
Conclusion #2. Lactose Intolerant People Can Eat Some Dairy
In the process of making cheese, and particularly cottage cheese, the lactose is converted to lactic acid, which is easy to digest. If you determined that you have lactose intolerance, you should still be able to eat cheese (4).
Skim milk still has lactose, so it is not a choice for lactose intolerant folks.
Cream, butter and yogurt have very small amounts of lactose and are usually okay.
Isn’t Dairy a Needed Source of Calcium for Building Bones?
No! While calcium, vitamins and other minerals are abundant in certain types of milk, calcium is far more abundant in leafy green veggies. There are many dairy free cultures around the world that have incredible bone density without consuming milk products (5).
Excellent Sources of Calcium:
- Fresh, dark-green vegetables like spinach, kale, turnips, and collard greens
- Sesame seeds and almonds
- Wild salmon and sardines
The biggest factor regarding calcium absorption is getting adequate amounts of vitamin D3. Vitamin D is required to carry the dietary calcium out of the gut and into the bloodstream. We primarily absorb our vitamin D from the sun or with supplementation. The cream portion of milk is a good supply of vitamin D3, along with the other essential fat soluble vitamins A, E and K. Unfortunately these vitamins are broken down in the pasteurization and homogenization process. As a result, milk is fortified with synthetic vitamins A, D2 (not vitamin D3) and calcium.
More importantly, 78 percent of Americans are vitamin D3 deficient.
It is the chronic deficiency of vitamin D3 that causes calcium deficiencies, which in turn may be linked to bone density issues.
Conclusion #3: If You Want Strong Bones, Get Your Vitamin D3
While raw milk is a better source of fat soluble vitamins and calcium than conventionally pasteurized milk, it still does not deliver enough vitamin D3 to reach the benefits that vitamin D3 optimization provides. Vitamin D3 supplementation in the winter and regular midday sun exposure in the summer is strongly recommended for optimal health and strong bones.
Should I Just Drink Skim Milk To Be Safe?
No! Skim milk is made from skimming off the cream that normally rises to the surface, which makes it nonfat and thus completely lacking in essential fat soluble vitamins A, D3, E and K. Lacking in these nutrients, skim milk still has the proteins and lactose that can cause indigestion.
Milk is 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein. The proteins in milk are the most common culprit when it comes to indigestion and allergies. Casein in particular is very hard to digest. Mother’s milk has four times the amount of easy-to-digest whey protein and one-half the amount of hard-to-digest casein protein than cow’s milk. So it seems we were never meant to digest lots of casein. Since both of these proteins are water soluble they remain in the skim milk, making it a richer source of protein – but much harder to digest.
While it is common to think that skim milk is better than whole milk for lactose intolerance, skim milk does retain lactose, so in reality it may not be any easier to digest.
Mother’s milk also has five times the linoleic acid as cow’s milk, which is a critical fat for building the nervous system and intelligence (6). Skimming milk takes the small amount of linoleic acid out of the milk, along with the needed fats, so it will lack the support whole milk provides for the nervous system.
Conclusion #4: Skim Milk Is Hard to Digest and Lacks Nutrients
Skimming the fat off milk creates a higher protein, higher mineral beverage that is more difficult to digest. The fats in whole milk – which are lacking in skim milk – build and balance the nervous system and act as carriers to deliver the calcium and fat soluble vitamins A, D3, E and K directly into the cells.
Skim milk though, is in some ways a less toxic option…see why below!
This is a hotly debated topic and may be the most confusing. Pasteurization is a process that heats milk in order to kill foodborne bacteria, microbes and pathogens. While pasteurization has saved countless lives when dairy farms were less than sanitary, today many take issue with this process.
By killing the bad bugs, the good bugs are also killed, along with the enzymes so desperately needed to break down the hard-to-digest proteins and fats, and deliver the vitamins and minerals. Raw milk advocates, such as the Weston Price Foundation, link pasteurization to sinus congestion, heart health concerns, circulation, cholesterol issues and more.
There are three kinds of pasteurization that you might see written on a label:
- Heats milk to 275 degrees for a couple of seconds.
- Shelf life of 2-3 months.
- Kills everything.
- Traditional process: Heats milk to 160 degrees for 15-20 seconds.
- Shelf life of 2-3 weeks.
- Preserves some good bacteria.
- TRY TO AVOID
- Heats milk to 135 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Shelf life of 7-10 days. It’s still alive!
- Preserves good bacteria and many enzymes.
- BEST Commercial Choice.
Vat-Pasteurization is becoming a more popular option. It provides a guaranteed bacteria-free product while preserving many of the enzymes and good bacteria because the heat is relatively low.
Organic Valley just released a whole milk product that is vat-pasteurized and non-homogenized. Kalona Farms in Iowa, which also distributes nationally, offers a variety of vat-pasteurized, non-homogenized products found at Whole Foods and other markets.
Ayurvedic Theory – Nature’s Way
According to Ayurveda, heating the milk slowly to just when it starts to boil (for how long?) will kill the bacteria and pathogens, but leave the good bacteria and the enzymes. Heating the milk too fast at high temperatures for just a second or two during conventional “Flash” pasteurization will of course kill the bacteria, but also partially breaks down the hard to digest protein chains (7).
Conclusion #5: Avoid Pasteurization and Boil Your Milk
Bringing already pasteurized milk to a boil will finish the job of breaking down the proteins and make them easier to digest. If you buy pasteurized milk, bring it slowly to a boil, let it cool and drink. Avoid Ultra-Pasteurization. Look for Vat-Pasteurized – or better yet, choose raw products. For best digestibility, bring raw products to a boil as well.
Always Buy Organic Dairy Products
One of the problems with non-organic dairy is that the chemicals, hormones and toxins in our world are generally fat soluble. Milk is high on the food chain, and toxins are therefore passed through the feed into the milk and carried in the fatty portion of the milk. The only way to avoid the overwhelming amounts of antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides in milk is to buy organic – where these fat soluble chemicals are not present.
Conclusion #6: Choose Organic (or Skim Milk if there is no other option)
If you have to drink non-organic milk, choose skim milk. Yes, though it is harder to digest, it is basically devoid of fat and will not carry the hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that whole or low fat milk would. Skim milk is the only relatively safe non-organic option.
From the Ayurvedic perspective and the perspective of many researchers, the homogenization process renders the fat in milk indigestible. The fat (cream) molecules are squeezed through a small filter in order to make them homogenous – or the same as the other molecules in the milk. This homogenous fat is a foreign molecule to the body. Often this molecule will pass undigested through weakened small intestinal linings, and create foreign sludge, which sticks to channel walls in the lymph and blood stream (8).
Some researchers believe this process allows a toxic enzyme called xanthine oxidase to enter into the blood stream and cause damage to the arterial wall. This arterial free radical damage causes scar tissue to form. Dietary fats can accumulate on the scars and change arterial flow (9).
Conclusion #7: Choose Organic Whipping Cream When Non-Homogenized is Not Available
Since almost all commercial milk is homogenized, there are only a few strategies to avoid homogenized dairy products. And, yes, even skim milk is homogenized. The small amount of residual fat remaining after the skimming process is then homogenized into the rest of the milk.
The best choice for milk is organic raw milk. The only other non-homogenized milk product is heavy whipping cream. In the production of heavy whipping cream, the cream is skimmed off the milk and never homogenized. Additionally, whipping cream will not whip when ultra-pasteurized, so as a rule whipping cream is always pasteurized at lower temperatures, which also spares enzymes and good bacteria. Choose organic, because the fat in cream is a carrier for fat soluble toxins.
Organic Valley sells organic whipping cream that is non-homogenized and vat-pasteurized. This is the best of both worlds. You can add water to dilute the cream to the desired consistency. Cream is also where the easy-to-digest constituents are found. It is where the linoleic acid, vitamins A, D, E and K, minerals and other healthy fats are found. Cream is almost devoid of lactose and the hard-to-digest proteins, which makes it much easier to digest.
Ayurvedic Theory – Nature’s Way
Traditionally, milk was never consumed in big glasses as it is in the west. Because milk is high in hard-to-digest proteins and lactose, it was traditionally allowed to separate from the cream. The cream was eaten in the raw form and saved for cooking, and the skim milk was made into cheese or yogurt. The culturing process made the proteins and lactose easier to digest. When milk was called for, cream was simply diluted with water to the desired consistency. Cream provided the fats, vitamins and some minerals directly and cheese provided a high protein, high mineral product that was easy to digest.
Solution: Organic whipping cream and organic cottage cheese are available almost everywhere these days. Whether you are lactose intolerant or have trouble digesting fats, one of these options will work for you.
What a simple solution to such a complicated problem!!!
If you choose to drink milk on a regular basis, the best choice is organic raw milk. I still suggest that you bring it to a boil before drinking it and that you always drink it warm or at room temperature, never cold. Then you will have an easy-to-digest, non-congesting and extremely nutritious beverage.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to get raw milk. It is mostly sold through local farm shares. Go to RealMilk.com to find a farm share in your area.
Final Conclusion: The Real Question is Why Are You Allergic to Dairy?
As I have written and lectured about this for many years, dairy is a hard-to-digest food. That is why Ayurvedic medicine suggested separating the cream, which is easy to digest, from the protein rich skim, which is difficult to digest.
While eating the healthiest form of dairy makes total sense, just changing the diet is never enough. If you have difficulty digesting something like gluten or dairy, evaluate the strength and integrity of the digestive process. For this, I refer you to my archived Health Reports LINK where I have spent much time educating folks on how to reset natural digestive and detoxification pathways. If you don’t digest dairy well, you do not have to eat it! Just be sure it is not a sign of a weakened digestive system. If so, let’s fix it!
1. J. Bayless, Lactose and Milk Intolerance: Clinical Impressions, N Engl J Med, 292 (1975)
2. Early man “couldn’t stomach milk, 27 February 2007, news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on 21 July 2009.
3. Stone Age Man Drank Milk”. London: Independent.co.uk. 2003-01-28. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/stone-age-man-drank-milk-scientists-find-605237.html. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
4. McDougall. The McDougall Plan, New Century Books p. 50
5.Walker, Osteoporosis and Calcium Deficiency, Am J Clin Nutr 16, 1965
6. M. Crawford, Essential Fatty Acids Requirements in Infancy,Am J Clin Nutr 31 (1978)
7.Ballentine, Diet and Nutrition. Honesdale, Himalayan Institute.. 1978, p.129 Oster, K., 8. Oster, J., and Ross, D. “Immune Response to Bovine Xanthine Oxidase in Atherosclerotic Patients.” American Laboratory, August, 1974, 41-47
8. Oster, K., and Ross, D. “The Presence of Ectopic Xanthine Oxidase in Atherosclerotic Plaques and Myocardial Tissues.” Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, 1973.
* Please Note: We cannot effectively or legally answer personal health questions here, for further assistance please consider a personalized Ayurvedic Consultation.