Dairy

I’ve been reading through a few various sources.  The Paleo Solution and It Starts With Food, to name 2 of them.  I highly recommend these 2 books if you want to dig a little deeper into the whole Paleo thing.  Don’t just take my word for it. I just encourage you to research this more on your own. Do a little digging yourself.  Become educated on how, why, and what you eat.

Dairy (cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk. water buffalo milk). It consists of protein, carbohydrate (lactose), fat, and calcium. It is meant for growth.  We have all heard that dairy is a major part of a well-balanced diet.  You need to drink your milk in order to have strong bones, and so on and so forth.  So why does Paleo kick out the dairy? 

First of all, you need a plethora of vitamins and minerals for bone growth, not just calcium.  Calcium, in addition to, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K, magnesium, and phosphorus.  They’re all important, not just the calcium.  Other sources of calcium include, but are not limited to, fish and green leafy vegetables. 

Secondly, dairy has the ability to cause inflammation in the gut.  This can affect digestion as well as cause a more systemic immune response. Studies are being done on how dairy has been linked to asthma, lupus, allergies, arthritis, psoriasis, and other immune disorders. Dairy has also been known to exacerbate the symptoms of celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine).  Another aspect of the inflammatory response has to do with amino acids (what make up protein).  Animal milk contains lactose, which is a simple sugar.  In order to digest lactose, our bodies produce an enzyme called lactase.  When we are babies, we have an overabundance of lactase in our bodies, but as we grow older, those lactase levels decrease significantly.  Thus, as we age, milk is not able to be broken down properly through digestion, leaving undigested amino acids floating around.  These amino acids also have the potential to affect the immune response.  An overactive immune system is no good.  These reactions clearly are not the case with every individual.  Just making you aware that dairy does have the potential to cause some pretty undesirable results.

Thirdly, dairy insulin levels.  Insulin is normally produced in the body.  nbd.  However, with milk, the protein and carbohydrate (lactose) combo is responsible for a significant increase in insulin release.  Lots and lots and lots of insulin. When the insulin levels spike, the body has some difficulty in releasing some of the energy already stored as fat.  The body then decides that it needs more energy, thus stimulating hunger.  Fat stores then begin to grow, but the body still thinks it needs more energy (food).  Basically, your body keeps telling you to eat and eat and eat.  Skim milk, 1%, 2%, whole milk…all affect insulin similarly.  Cream and butter do not affect insulin levels in that way (they are full fats).  In short, insulin spikes should be avoided.  This keeps your body regulated as well as gives you a more desirable body composition. 

My suggestion, strict paleo for 30 days, then figure out if you want/need to modify.  Try 30 days without the dairy, then if need be, consider reintroducing it.  I have fairly severe allergies.  Taking dairy out for the 30 days was a good test on whether or not I have a dairy allergy.  Upon reintroducing dairy into my diet, the test was negative.  I am not allergic to the dairy.  If you have allergies, a 30 day Paleo challenge is a great test to see if you have food allergies.  If you have frequent gut aches, maybe they are from dairy?  It’s only 30 days.  Try dairy-free.  

For me, I choose not to have milk.  I stick to unsweetened coconut milk.  Almond milk is also quite delicious.  I would recommend the unsweetened.  With the flavored non-dairy milks, you will typically find evaporated cane juice/sugar.  While this is a natural sugar, it’s still sugar.  This should be consumed sparingly.  I also allow myself to have cheese, maybe 1-3 servings a week.  As mentioned earlier, it’s the milk that causes the insulin spikes, not the cheese.  When I do eat cheese, I stick to the good stuff.  Cheddar, gouda, blue, feta, swiss.  Toss out those Kraft singles.  You won’t be needing those anymore.  Also, I’m not afraid of butter.  It’s a good fat.  Throw out the margarine.  Get rid of that garbage.  Toss out the tub with 20 blended ingredients and keep the stick that only has 1 or 2 ingredients. I also use heavy whipping cream.  Again, it’s the fat.  I use it in my coffee, soups, scrambled eggs…what have you.  Don’t be afraid of this stuff.   It’s good for you.

Cheese, wine, dark chocolate.  The Paleo purists say no, but for me, I say in moderation.

In the end, it’s all about you. Do your research.  Know what strict Paleo looks like then figure how it applies to you.  Do you do strict Paleo?  Do you modify?  How do you modify?  Talk to 10 people who eat Paleo, and I just about guarantee they will all modify their Paleo diet a little differently.  Figure out what it looks like for you.

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