Is Diary Really that Bad for Us?
Dairy is one of those foods (like cholesterol and saturated fat) that has been villainized for being inflammatory over the last few decades. Although that might be true for some, is it really fair to say that dairy is inflammatory for all? Let me add here that we’re going to be focusing on the health properties of dairy today – not the environmental impact or animal-welfare aspects.
Based on the findings of this 2017 study – Dairy products & Inflammation: A Review of the Clinical Evidence.
The study analyzed 52 human studies on dairy and inflammation and assigned inflammatory scores based on the changes in biomarkers measured.
So is Dairy Really Inflammatory? After crunching all of the data, the overall report indicated that dairy had anti-inflammatory activity for almost everyone!
Fermented dairy was the most anti-inflammatory. This is consistent with mounds of research showing that fermented dairy supports healthy gut flora that create anti-inflammatory metabolites.
Who benefited the most from dairy?
- Healthy individuals
- Those with metabolic disease (obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease)
Who benefited the least?
- People with dairy allergies (note: a true allergy NOT lactose intolerance) An estimated 68% of the world populations is lactose intolerant. If this is you, you may do just fine tolerating fermented dairy and/or dairy coming from A2 cows. See Below!
Guide to Choosing the BEST DAIRY
BEST CHOICE: Lectin-Free, Grass-Fed, and Raw (unpasteurized)
- This dairy will be found either locally at farmer markets or at gourmet cheese counters.
- LECTIN-FREE: Remember the parameter for lectin-free dairy: either the dairy comes from animals other than cows like goats, sheep, water buffalo, and camels, OR it comes from A2 cow breeds (Asian breeds, Jersey, Guernsey, Limousin, and Charolais). A2 cow breeds will not typically be on the dairy label. Therefore, your best bet is to research local farms, or only buy dairy from countries that exclusively use A2 breeds (France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Switzerland). Do not buy cow dairy from any other country. That said, you can buy sheep, goat, water buffalo, and camel milk from any country as all of those animals only produce A2 dairy.
- GRASS-FED: The animal (whether goat, sheep, cow, etc.) should only be consuming grass and wild herbs. Sheep are always exclusively fed grass, so sheep dairy is as good as it gets. When a ruminant animal eats its natural diet of grass, it produces omega 3 fatty acids within the dairy. It also makes the animal healthier and less likely to need antibiotics. As omega 3s are anti-inflammatory for us, it is a win-win! Corn and soy-fed dairy does the opposite: it makes the animal unhealthy, and it produces an omega 6 fatty acid profile in the milk. Further, the lectins from the corn and the soy used to feed the ruminant go into its milk supply, adding to our toxic load. Best to stick to grass-fed dairy.
- RAW: Raw dairy is unpasteurized. It has all of its natural probiotics and enzymes intact, leading to a more nutrient dense and health promoting food for us. If you would like to learn more about raw dairy products and their health benefits, please visit https://www.realmilk.com/
- FULL-FAT: The vitamins many of us are deficient in are found in the fat of dairy products (vitamin D, K2, and the animal form of vitamin A). Do not eat any reduced fat dairy on this diet.
SECOND BEST CHOICE: Lectin-Free, Grass-Fed, and Full Fat
- This will be most of your sheep cheese and all of your Southern European cheeses.
THIRD BEST CHOICE: Lectin-Free and Full Fat
- This will be most goat cheeses, as goats will eat any food the farmer gives them. This is a perfectly acceptable cheese for the diet, so just because it came last, don’t rule it out.
FAIL: All other dairy. This includes dairy at restaurants (unless it is sheep or goat), and most of the big names in the dairy industry (Horizon, Organic Valley, Tillamook, Kraft, etc.).
Remember that A1 milk comes from the following breeds:
- Holstein Friesian (this is the black and white cow found on Kerrygold labels)
- British Shorthorn