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DAIRY

 

 

I can’t tell you how many people I know that swear they could probably give up much of anything else in their diet but “not the cheese!”  {I’m not asking you to give it up.  If you do, that’s your choice, but that’s not my intent in this discussion.}  Still, discussing dairy is important in helping you line out your family's health so it’s worth the space its being given.

 

Dairy has long been consumed and enjoyed by man.  It has indeed surely been a key factor in the survival of entire communities of people throughout history as long, cold seasons decrease the accessibility of wholesome fresh produce.  Dairy has long provided man with energy, vitamins, minerals, and proteins.  Fermented dairy also provides the added benefit of boosting immunity by increasing the presence of intestinal flora, good bacteria in the gut.  In the scope of history, dairy has been a means of survival and symbol of prosperity.

 

As I know we’ve reiterated throughout our health talks, the health effects of the food are related to the quality.  Much of the dairy consumed today is not like the dairy consumed in days long past.  Today, most milk is pasteurized and usually homogenized as well.  These processes denature the proteins in the milk, decreases nutrient bioavailability and creates more of an immune and inflammatory response. These products also make the body very acidic.  Some dairy is also high in fat yet skim varieties can be the worst for people who already struggle with blood sugar issues, causing the fastest blood sugar spikes.

 

Our society consumes very large amounts of dairy.  Yet, it is said that 60 percent of adults can’t even digest milk.  Children handle and potentially stand to benefit from it more so than adults.  Milk allergies are incredibly common and are higher in those whose ancestry is of darker skin color and warmer climates.  The end result is more immunological response and, in turn, a chronic state of inflammation in the body.

 

There is much misinformation about the actual necessity of dairy in the human diet. We’re told we need calcium for bone health yet despite the fact that our country consumes very large quantities of dairy products, still, it is said that almost 57 million American adults have either low bone mass or osteoporosis according to the latest National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) figures.   I’m sorry, but something just isn’t adding up.  The truth is, it takes more than calcium to build strong bones and consuming copious amounts of dairy may very well be negating your efforts.  Foods, such as kale, also contain calcium, with many other added health benefits.

 

Milk is central to our development; it is universally accepted and understood that a mother’s milk is unequivocally what God planned for the growth of their babies across all species. It provides the best balance of fats, proteins, vitamins, hormones, and enzymes for development.  Once a baby is finished nursing, the milk dries up.  The body recognizes that milk-production is no longer needed and is therefore halted.  It will generally continue as long as it is needed (such as seen in nomadic eskimos who are said to nurse their young up to ten years of age) but does not continue beyond the demand.

 

We are the only species on the planet that thinks it “necessary” to consume milk beyond infancy or to consume the milk of another species. While we can consume it and it may be useful, even necessary for survival where other food is scarce, I, personally, find it hard to believe it to be an “essential” food group when considering the broader scope of human health.  I say this not to say you have to abstain from it.  The perspective is merely being offered to prompt consideration regarding the information we’ve been bombarded with through articles and cleverly devised marketing schemes.

 

If you wish to consume dairy it should be as close to its natural state as possible.  You get bonus points if it is fermented and purchased with live cultures (yogurt/kefier/raw cheese). Raw dairy can be hard to find as the “powers that be” enforce many regulations against it, claiming it is dangerous to consume raw dairy despite the fact that milk had been most always consumed raw throughout the history of man up until the 1800’s.  {I have to wonder if more of the “health risks” they insist they’re protecting us from aren’t more related to conventional dairy farming practices than the inherent nature of cow’s or milk.}  Still, it is out there for purchase.  Raw cheese is especially easy to acquire from stores like Whole Foods.  Though it is a bit more costly, the difference in the impact it can have on your growing kids' health is well worth it.  So long as you serve in single portions, it will go further than you think.

 

Know What You're Getting

Even if you can’t get your milk or dairy products raw, the family will benefit most greatly by getting it organic or as clean as possible. I say this because while cartons and jugs of milk tout added vitamins and omega’s, they are also often heavily laden with other not-so-appealing factors. For example, rather than being milked by hand, cows today are milk by machinery.  These machines can be very hard on the cow’s utters, especially as the cows are being way overworked.  This can result in sores on the udders for which they give the cow’s antibiotics.  These matters lend a combination of puss and antibiotics to your kids' milk.  In addition to this, in order to keep up with demand, cows are often given hormones to boost milk production to upwards to ten times their normal rate of production.  These hormones end up in your milk and enables them to literally milk a cow to death in as little as four years!  When looking at the amount of hormonal disruptions we see plaguing our society and how young it seems some of our children are entering puberty, I cannot help but ponder how detrimental these factors are to our health and that of our future generations.

 

Quick-Pick Tips

  • When buying dairy products, such as cheese, sour cream or yogurt, see the ingredients list, looking for as few and simple ingredients as possible.
  • If buying cheese, opt for block over shredded (which generally contains wood pulp to keep it from stick back together).
  • Look for live cultures and avoid products loaded with sugars, dyes, preservatives and other flavorings.

 

Substitutes

With all the points surrounding the consumption of cow's milk and related dairy products, many turn to goat's milk.  Goat's milk is said to have a nutritional profile closer to that of a mother's breast milk (so much so that it has been said to have been used for preemies and other newborns, when mother's milk has been unavailable or lacking).  It is also said to be much easier to digest and is especially better for the lactose intolerant.

 

I personally do not consume dairy (or animal milk of any kind) as it doesn’t always agree with me.  I figure those post-consumption discomforts are a good indicator that it’s probably better for me personally to not consume it.  I like to use some substitutes though I find it essential to be mindful when purchasing these as well.  Non-organic soy products are usually GMO and laden with chemicals.  Some almond milks include ingredients, such as carrageenan, flavorings and/or sugars that may be less than healthful.  Non-dairy cheeses often contain hydrogenated oils, canola or other add-ins in effort to achieve texture, appeal and other cheese-like similarities, while making the product more harmful than the food you’re attempting to avoid.

 

If you’re going to eliminate dairy for your health, be sure you’re not substituting it with something that’s actually worse for you.  Best yet – make your own substitutes!  They’re easier than you think and can be chock full of nutritional goodness!  Almond milk is as simple as blending and straining soaked almonds.  Coconut yogurt is so stinkin’ delicious and super easy to make!

 

And, yes, you can make dairy-free cheese substitutes that even the kids will love!

 

 

 

 

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