Did you know that dairy-free does not need to be a life sentence? Read on to learn why!
People all over America are going dairy-free. Children, adults, teens, and even tweens have gone “DF” by adopting a dairy-free diet. Which means exactly what you think it means: eliminating dairy from the diet. Most people who go down this path do away with all dairy, though this is rarely necessary. (Learn why in my next post, “Dairy-Free? You Can Eat Butter and Why You Should.”)
Folks who do dairy-free exclude milk and everything made from it—that means butter, ghee (clarified butter), cream, yogurt, “sour cream,” crème fraîche, kefir, and cheese. And they think they need to give up on all of these products FOREVER.
Why Go Dairy-Free?
People have different reasons for going dairy-free. Some do not consume any animal products. Others go DF because of dairy allergies or sensitivities, or dairy intolerance. If you have a diagnosed allergy to dairy, your body will have an allergic reaction to one of the proteins in milk, casein or whey (usually casein), if you consume it.
If you have a dairy sensitivity, it can lead to a sinus congestion or runny nose. Consuming cheese may turn your ears bright red, or you may experience a flare of eczema or a skin rash. If you have a sensitivity or intolerance to dairy, your body is most likely reacting to the milk sugar, which is called lactose. This is why people will say they are “lactose intolerant.”
If you are lactose intolerant, you will usually experience discomfort in the digestive tract after consuming dairy products. Symptoms can include bloating, a distended abdomen, cramping, ache, constipation, or diarrhea. But there can also be more serious issues. If you are lactose intolerant, it means your digestive systems cannot digest lactose. Unfortunately, this undigested lactose feeds pathogenic bacteria that breed and release toxins into your bloodstream. These toxins can lead to a whole host of brain function issues: brain fog, depression, ADD, ADHD…and the alphabet soup of brain disorders goes on.
All Dairy Is Not Created Equal
Something interesting happens when some people switch from pasteurized milk to fresh, raw milk from grass-fed cows. Their symptoms go away. Why? Because when milk is pasteurized, everything that makes it easy to digest—and everything else that makes it benefit the digestive tract—is destroyed. Many studies show that the very act of pasteurizing milk is what causes the allergies so many people have to it! For example, children who drink raw milk are 50 percent less likely to develop allergies and 41 percent less likely to develop asthma as compared to children who do not drink raw milk. You can learn more about raw milk, including where to it in your area, at Campaign for Real Milk. But whatever dairy you consume, make sure it is grass-fed as well as raw. If you cannot yet find raw milk near you, opt for organic, grass-fed, whole milk products with no fillers.
Lactose Intolerance Can Be an Easy Fix
If you are lactose intolerant but would like to eat dairy products, there is an easy fix—just consume cultured dairy products. These include cultured yogurt, crème fraîche, kefir, and cheese products that are cultured long enough to predigest the lactose before you eat it. Unfortunately, most commercially available cultured dairy products are not cultured long enough to be free of lactose, which is why you should make your own. It is easy to do, and you can learn how in the second volume of my Cooking Techniques series on culturing dairy.
Dairy-Free Does Not Mean Forever!
Most people think that if they go dairy-free, it has to be forever. But it does not have to be a life sentence! Most dairy allergies and sensitivities can be cleared. An allergy or sensitivity to a food is a flag on the play—a sign post or a signal pointing to a leaky, damaged gut. Once you heal and seal the gut, the allergy or sensitivity will go away
Healing takes some effort and time, but you can heal the underlying cause of your food sensitivities or allergies. The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) nutritional protocol is designed to heal and seal the gut, which clears the symptoms of a leaky gut. So if you are dairy-free because you have a dairy allergy or sensitivity, or because you are dairy intolerant, no need to be. Just heal your gut to enjoy delicious, nutritious dairy products again! I can see grass-fed butter on that sourdough bread right now.
Gut healing begins with meat stock. Learn everything you need to know about making your own meat stock in my book, Cooking Techniques for the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet, Part I: Meat Stock and Bone Broth.
Image from iStock/RossHelen