Stop Eating Dairy (at least for a while)



I, like you, often search online for new Paleo recipes. What I’m constantly and surprisingly met with are “Paleo” recipes that include dairy. Now, I know the Paleo/Primal movement is growing and evolving, so changes will occur. And what seems to be happening is a meshing of the Paleo diet tennets set forth by Loren Cordain and the philosophies of Mark Sisson of, PLUS your own addictions. And by addictions I mean cheese, cream, and butter.

Nowhere in Cordain’s books does he promote, or even condone, the consumption of dairy. In fact, he believes that dairy is pretty awful for us and he’s tight with Pedro Bastos, the (anti-)dairy Paleo researcher from Portugal. Cordain, who by the way owns the rights to the term “Paleo Diet,” believes dairy can cause anything from acne to cancer to insulin resistance.

In Sisson’s opinion, you should eat ghee and butter whenever you want and consume heavy cream, cheese, and yogurt in moderation. He is very serious about raw and grass-fed sources of dairy, though. And fermentation when possible.

My question is this: when did it become okay for people who write books and blogs entitled “Paleo something or other” to publish recipes that are chockablock (yes, that’s a word) with dairy? Dairy is not Paleo, people. Of course, neither is vinegar, so I guess I should stand down on this one since some of our “Paleo” recipes call for that.

The point is that dairy actually REALLY does cause problems for a lot of people, and everyone with their books and blogs is confusing Paleo eaters by telling them to never give it up. Yes, we all love cheese. I adore cheese. I love milk and all things made from it. If I could eat dairy without significant ailments, I probably would indulge sometimes. But in my opinion, every single person needs to cut it out of their diet for the first month or so of going Paleo/Primal to find out if they have a problem with it. I can’t stress this enough.

There are people who are having major digestive problems, not losing weight, feeling fatigued, having skin problems or a myriad other symptoms because they refuse to give up their dairy (or they don’t even know they should). It’s not like everyone is heeding the advice to get their dairy from grass-fed cows either. Most grocery stores don’t even sell grass-fed milk products. So that means that you may as well be on the Atkins diet, which you know I’m not such a huge fan of.

Conventional dairy is gross, to be quite honest. It’s full of pus from the cows’ infected teats. It has to be pasteurized because there’s so much bacteria in it, rendering its nutrients less available to us and its sugars less digestible. It’s also homogenized, which means the allergenic proteins can get stuck in the fat globules, which means that even if you’re eating the butter/ghee or cream, there might be some unwanted protein in there. Some say that up to 80% of the world’s population is at least a little bit lactose intolerant after early childhood, and it’s because we weren’t evolutionarily brought up to suck on animals’ teats after we’re weaned. There’s a reason dairy doesn’t agree with people.

The conventional milk in the United States oftentimes comes from cows who are pregnant. FYI, you’re not supposed to get a cow pregnant when she’s nursing her baby because a nursing cow should have time to recuperate before she gets pregnant again. Small, ethical farms won’t do that to their animals – it’s abusive.

Anyway, there’s a ton of extra hormones in the milk that you’re drinking from that pregnant cow, like estrogen. Extra estrogen causes things like allergies, terrible eczema in children and adults, endometriosis, early puberty (anyone notice their kids developing breasts early these days?), early onset of menstruation, heinous menstrual cramps, decreased sex drive, acne, infertility, prostate cancer, man boobs, osteoporosis, here’s a list for you.

Healthy, indigenous cultures who have dairy in their diets ferment the stuff. They know it’s hard to digest otherwise, and they certainly aren’t drinking homogenized or pasteurized milk fortified with sythetic, sometimes harmful “nutrients.” Modern Western people neither ferment their dairy nor get it from grass-fed sources. The reason for the grass-fed push is that the grass imparts a fantastic nutrient profile to the milk, and it means the cow was eating what it was supposed to, so she was a healthy animal (so her teats are not full of bacteria and pus). It also means the dairy farm is more ethical than not.

So think about this for yourself. There’s more information about dairy in our ebook we just published, too, in case you want more details. Give dairy up for a month and then try it again. See if it makes your skin itch, your face break out, your digestion go wonky, or your head hurt. Watch your menstrual cycle to see if it responds negatively to dairy. Does it make you tired? All these things are impossible to notice unless you take it out of your diet and see how you feel without it. It’s irresponsible for us in the Paleo/Primal world to just dismiss this issue just because dairy is delicious and we don’t feel like giving it up.

Don’t think just because it’s grass-fed, whole-fat dairy from raw milk that it’s without issue. I just got brave a couple weeks ago and put grass-fed ghee into my otherwise dairyless diet. I LOVE ghee. It’s amazing, but my skin got red and itchy after a day and I broke out with zits all over. I have scabs on my abdomen from itching so much. The only thing that changed about my diet was the ghee.

Think it over. And tell us, what have your experiences with dairy been?

Dr. Loren Cordain, the author of The Paleo Diet and several other Paleo books, weighed in on this blog post via email on 12/8/11. Here’s what he had to say(thanks for the support, Dr. Cordain!):

Hi Neely,

I am definitely on board with you. Dairy should not be part of a regular Paleo diet except on rare occasions as per the 85:15 rule I have laid out in my first book. In my next book (The Paleo Answer, available at Amazon on Dec 20), I have devoted an entire chapter to the health hazards of dairy consumption. You have my OK to post these comments wherever you like.

Best wishes,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor
Department of Health and Exercise Science
Colorado State University

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