Do You Eat Dairy and Is It Healthy for You? The answer to that question frequently causes considerable debate in the wellness community.
Some people only believe that raw, full-fat dairy is a superfood. Even now, some people maintain that drinking cow’s milk is only appropriate for calves and not for humans.
Then there are individuals who are lactose intolerant, for whom this controversy may not be as important. (Actually, the majority of people on Earth—roughly 75% of them—are lactose intolerant.
- 1 What Is Lactose Intolerance?
- 2 Is Dairy Healthy For You?
- 3 what To Look For In Healthy Dairy
What is Dairy?
It may be good to begin by defining what we mean by dairy: we are referring to both the typical glass of cow’s milk and to any other foods manufactured from cow’s milk (cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, etc.). Around the world, people drink milk and products derived from milk from various animals, including goats, sheep, water buffalo, and even camels. However, in this article, we’ll concentrate on cow’s milk and products since they are the most extensively available and consumed in the United States.
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So, how did we get here and why did we initially start drinking milk from other animals?
A Brief History: Why Humans Drink Milk
Of course, mammals make milk to sustain and feed their young. Other female mammals also produce milk after giving birth, much like humans do, as a way for nature to feed young animals that are unable to hunt or graze on their own.
What Is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Our body has to make an enzyme called lactase in order to digest this sugar. When a human is born, this enzyme naturally begins to be produced; but, by the time we reach the age of five, nature assumes that we no longer require it because we have ceased nursing.
The ability to produce lactase (and thus the capacity to absorb the milk sugar lactose) currently persists into adulthood in some populations, however, that have long coexisted with and consumed the milk of domesticated animals.
While the majority of adults worldwide are lactose intolerant (remember, this is the inherent human condition), populations derived from ancestors who kept domesticated animals that produced milk had substantially lower rates of lactose intolerance.
This is how the common American health myth, “Drink lots of milk, it’s good for you,” persists despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans are lactose intolerant.
(Of course, the dairy industry would rather you weren’t aware of this since it’s in their best interest to sell you as much milk and milk-related items as you can, even if you have to take enzyme supplements to digest them.)
How to Eat Dairy and Is It Healthy for You
Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance:
If you have lactose intolerance, you are probably familiar with its symptoms. But to clarify what’s going on biologically, lactose intolerance is a condition in which the body is unable to generate the enzyme lactase, which is required to break down the lactose found in milk and other dairy products (like cheese, ice cream, etc.). Most of the time, when you were younger, your body did generate this enzyme, but you eventually outgrew it.
Let’s take a little step back and ask if lactose intolerance was a problem for all early people.
No, in fact, this is how some of our favorite dairy products got their start. Adult humans probably still couldn’t digest lactose in the early domestication period since they had naturally stopped generating the lactase enzyme. Therefore, early dairy consumption was frequently in the form of curd, cheese, or other items that have lower lactose levels and are therefore simpler to digest.
Is Dairy Healthy For You?
What does this mean for the health of humans who consume dairy? This relies on a number of things, chief among them your own genetics (do you still manufacture lactase? ), the method of production of the dairy you’re consuming, and how much of it you’re consuming.
Here are some suggestions for selecting or consuming dairy products:
Choose Organic Dairy
It’s advisable to choose organic alternatives when buying animal goods, especially those that contain fat.
The main issue here with animal products like dairy is that toxins bio-accumulate in fat and they bio-magnify up the food chain, which is something we’ve already addressed in more detail. Therefore, if a cow consumes a particular number of toxins while grazing (ideally, but we’ll get to that later), the milk it produces will include several times that quantity. In other words, you ingest more poisons in the cow’s milk per calorie than it did in whatever it was eating.
So it’s best to avoid artificial hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, and milk that contains residue from chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Grass-Fed Dairy Is More Nutritious
Cows typically consume grass. They grazed on lush meadows for the first several millennia after becoming domesticated, eating all day.
The cow’s diet can be altered, though, and this has an effect. According to studies, dairy that is raised on grass has higher amounts of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids than dairy that is raised on grains, which has higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids (not the sort you want more of) and lower levels of vitamin D. Grass and soy consumption contribute to cows’ stomach issues.
Avoid Synthetic Growth Hormones
Let’s be clear: taking synthetic growth hormones is not a good idea, even if the word doesn’t put you off.
This has received a lot of reaction, and as a result, many dairy producers have pledged to stop using it. It is also illegal in Canada, the EU, and other nations.
Why do we not wish to drink milk from cows treated with rbGH, legalities aside?
It has detrimental effects on human health in addition to various concerns for the health of the cow. It promotes growth since it is a growth hormone. That implies that it may also aid in promoting the development of cancer cells.
Fat-Free Dairy Isn’t Actually Better For You
Milk has naturally occurring fat in it. Whole milk, as we know it from the grocery store, is milk’s natural state. Whole milk has a fat content of about 3.25%. Skim or fat-free milk is, of course, milk with essentially all of the fat removed. And 1% and 2% milk are versions with some, but not all, of the fat, removed.
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The Difference Between Pasteurized & Raw Milk
On the one hand, this is a modern development that might save lives (more on that in a moment). Consequently, raw milk has advantages over pasteurized milk but is still not without disadvantages..
Consider Animal Welfare
It’s also important to note the unethical practice of many industrial operations that include impregnating a cow for milk production and taking her calf away soon after birth (typically for killing to sell veal). Small dairy farms are more likely to treat their cows humanely and permit a more natural interaction between mother cow and calf, however, this varies from farm to farm.
what To Look For In Healthy Dairy
- Select organic, grass-fed dairy; antibiotics, GMOs, or chemical pesticide residues).
- Choose whole, 2%, or 1% fat milk to assist your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the beverage.
- Consume fresh raw milk that you only get from reliable, high-quality sources.