Tuesday, 9 December 2008

To dairy or not to dairy?

This question is one that tends to divide not only CR and Paleo eaters, but even Paleo eaters amongst themselves. This blog is not intended to have the intensely scientific bent that some CR?Paleo blogs have--for example, I do not plan on citing studies.

From a purely personal standpoint, I struggle with the dairy issue. On the one hand, I truly love most dairy products, especially cheese. For a long time I used low fat cottage cheese, greek yogurt (2%) and fat free ricotta as central protein sources in my diet. From the CR perspective, this is ok. From the Paleo perspective, dairy is suspect to begin with, and pasteurized low fat or fat free dairy is especially so. 

Our ancestors indisputably did not eat low fat or fat free dairy products. I also do not believe saturated fat found in dairy is a great dietary evil. But I do like that I can eat those products in a decent volume and get a good amount of protein for a small calorie expenditure. As I have tried more actively to balance CR and Paleo, I have moved away from many dairy products because they not give me enough bang for my nutritional buck. But I do miss them.

And I refuse to cut all dairy out. I think it is unnecessary. I love making myself a cheese plate after dinner (this week: tarantaise, st. nectaire, and rambol) with a little bit of prosciutto or salami. I have half and half in my coffee. I occasionally have a misto from Starbucks, with 2%, heavy on the coffee. 

Am I sabotaging my body? Maybe. It's debatable. I am not lactose intolerant, and small amounts of dairy do not bother me. But at the same time, I feel a bit strange eating low fat dairy and pasteurized milk, knowing all the processing that has gone into them. So the internal struggle continues :)


April said...

I'm coming to your house for the cheese plate! Sounds excellent!


Dana Seilhan said...

I know this is an old post but you don't have a lot of posts in your blog and this post speaks to something I've been thinking about for a while.

Back in Paleolithic times there were lots of large land mammals carrying large amounts of fat. Any animal with carnivorous tendencies, even if it is not a pure carnivore, gravitates toward dietary fat. Human beings are no exception.

Well, most of the large land mammals are gone. The sorta-large ones remaining tend toward the lean, if they are not too endangered to hunt.

So I view dairy as a source of the fat that we need and would not be getting enough of otherwise.

The dentist Weston Price documented many traditional communities that lived on animal foods, including dairy, and they were very healthy, right down to having better bone structure than their industrially fed counterparts.

As to the lactose question, if you eat fermented dairy that almost completely sidesteps the issue. The process of fermentation involves the conversion of lactose to lactic acid, and also leaves the casein and butterfat partially digested and easier for human beings to assimilate.

I still get the pasteurized (regular, not ultra) milk at the regular grocery store, because organic is ultra-pasteurized and I can't afford a herdshare to get raw, and I tend to turn it into kefir. I am also experimenting with yogurt. Otherwise I favor heavy cream and aged cheeses. I find I feel a lot better on those than drinking whole milk anyway.