Is ALL Dairy Bad?

by Suz on July 27, 2012 · 13 comments

in Paleo

I have always viewed dairy as a collective dietary no-no. Since I initially went Paleo and my asthma vanished, I’ve been resolute that dairy is problematic – and something I should avoid.

Recently however, I’ve been reading a lot about hard (i.e. cheese) and soft (i.e. milk) dairy. It seems that many people find they can tolerate hard dairy with no issues – yet need to strictly avoid soft dairy.

paleo diet dairy raw asthma

What’s Wrong With Dairy?

Milk has high levels of the sugar lactose, which appears to be at the root of many of the issues with dairy. Many people are lactose intolerant, so unable to produce the enzyme lactase to break down these milk sugars. The alpha- and beta-casein found in milk also appears to be problematic as do the components casomorphin and butyrophillin.

Raw dairy is significantly better. During Pasturisation the very enzyme – lactase – needed to digest lactose is killed. Conventional wisdom at it’s finest….

The most common issues I read about in relation to dairy are digestive issues. I’m fairly convinced however that dairy is the culprit behind the Asthma that I no longer have. However, it’s hard to be certain. And if dairy is the culprit, is it the lactose, the casein – or something else entirely?

It seems that the further away dairy is from milk, the lower the levels of lactose – and therefore the more tolerable it appears to be. Fermented dairy – such as a home fermented yoghurt is apparently almost dairy free, so perhaps that might be tolerable too? Even if the dairy is almost lactose free, it still isn’t without problems, since the high level of carbohydrates is very insulin promoting.

One of my main concerns with dairy is the growth factors it contains, like IGF-1. Raw dairy seems to have much lower levels, but it appears Pasteurised dairy could have very high levels. IGF-1 is great for helping a calf to grow quickly; but it’s perhaps not so great if it encourages our cells to grow faster (hence the concern about dairy and cancer cells).

Should I Avoid Dairy?

I think the only way to identify whether dairy is problematic issue is to go for 30 days without any type of dairy, then slowly introduce back in raw dairy only. I’m keen to further experiment by consuming only raw hard dairy to see if this has any effect, before trying raw soft dairy too.

I’d love to hear what you think about dairy and how it impacts you. Do you find you can tolerate different forms of dairy, or must you avoid all trace? Finally, if your asthma has also improved or vanished since you went Paleo, I’d be very interested to hear specifically what you think made this happen.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Mele July 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I went 2 months without dairy. I did have coconut milk for cooking and for making kefir.
I wouldn’t say my asthma was better. I did feel that I had Phlegm that just wouldn’t move. For the last 2 weeks I have introduced a bit of cows milk keir (1/4 glass a day), to see how my body processes the protien from cows milk. I have put on weight and been rather bloated but I don’t have the heavy feeling in my chest.

I am switching to goats milk kefir to see if that makes a difference. If not I will go back to coconut milk.

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Suz September 12, 2012 at 10:53 am

Will be very interested to hear the effects of introducing Goats milk Mele, that’s something I’ve not really tried before. Do you notice anything you can do diet wise that has any impact on your asthma (whether in a good or bad way?)

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Lois July 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I recently resolved my intolerances to dairy (and gluten), and my facial Rosacea, by taking digestive enzymes – specifically one containing DDP IV (peptidase) enzyme in a product called TriEnza. I could hardly eat any dairy without getting nasty red pustules on my nose and cheeks. No fun having teenage acne at age 63!! Since I have been taking these I have clearer skin than I’ve had in 15 years, my problematic runny nose has cleared up and my digestion (bloating & reflux) is a thing of the past.

I have also tested this out by eating yoghurt again without the usual skin flare-up. I learned about this enzymes that breaks down gluten and casein (proteins) on a website for children with Autism. They were able to go off their gluten/casein free diets when taking this.

Still, since I discovered Co Yo yoghurt (yum!) and other delicious things made with coconut milk I’m pretty happy to mostly by-pass the dairy stuff, but nice to know I don’t need to be so strict about it.

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Mele July 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

@ Lois. Co Yo yoghurt with dates is my treat!! Oh and I love their ice cream as well. I dont have it often as the ice cream has tapioca in it.

I recently found Loving Earth Choclates, no dairy, soy or sugar. I have to say it is really good.

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Suz September 12, 2012 at 10:55 am

That’s fantastic you’ve managed to resolve your intollerances. I’m going to have to research those enzymes, very interesting indeed.

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Bim July 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I went milk free last October as part of an overall healthy eating kick. I noticed within a couple of weeks I could breathe much better. My asthma was quite mild but the thing I noticed the most was my sinuses were clear. I had always had difficulty breathing through my nose, to the point I didn’t realise how bad it was until it was clear and felt so good. I still eat a couple of spoonfuls of greek yoghurt a few times a week, and cheese probably once a week. After a month I tried milk again and instantly felt the blocked nose. For the first winter ever in my life I have made it so far without any sign of illness or asthma. I agree, even if you aren’t sure whether it affects you or not, give it up for 30 days, then see what happens when you reintroduce it. For me it was 100% worth it.

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Suz September 12, 2012 at 10:56 am

That’s wonderful you felt so much better Bim. It’s definitely worth trying a 30 day period of strict Paleo, what’s the harm?!

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Sarah July 28, 2012 at 12:28 am

I struggled with asthma for years – it was the worst when we lived overseas in pollution-ridden Seoul, ROK. After we moved back to the States, I switched over to raw dairy and my allergies and asthma disappeared almost instantly (I had horrible seasonal allergies)! I was moving to a more traditional foods diet (a la WAPF), but that was my first big change. I’ve been gluten-free for a couple years now, and am just now moving to a more grain-free Paleo diet and have been on/off with the dairy. Sometimes I think dairy makes me feel bloated, other times I don’t notice any change at all, so I’m thinking I’ll just do the 30 day challenge to see if anything changes. I do love coconut milk, at least, but there’s really no substitute for cheese!

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Suz September 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

Will be interested to hear how you get on Sarah! That’s true, there are enviromental factors like pollution that can have a huge impact on asthma. I wonder if you lived there again now, on your Paleo diet, if you’d suffer with asthma and allergies?

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Glimpse August 2, 2012 at 2:47 am

“since the high level of carbohydrates is very insulin promoting.”

Actually the culprit is the amino acid composition of dairy proteins (leucine is highly insulinogenic).

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Suz September 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

Thanks Glimpse

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Garaidh September 27, 2012 at 1:12 am

I guess I’m the exception that proves the rule. I started paleo allowing for dairy with limited milk and mostly butter/cream/cheeses and found that my acne and asthma improved considerably; virtually cured. I then decided to go more towards “full paleo” and cut out the dairy. I gave it a good two to three weeks with no other changes and found that my acne/asthma came back … with a vengeance. I re-introduced dairy but this time specifying zero lactose but allowing milkfat products. My asthma and acne both went back into remission after just a couple of days. I hypothesize that I’m missing something nutritionally that I’m satisfying with dairy … if I can figure out what it is I may try to remove the milkfat products again but in my case they seem to do far more good than harm.

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Mary Worth December 22, 2013 at 2:31 am

I eat very clean but drink large amounts of non fat milk and eat non fat Greek yogurt daily. I’m an endurance cyclist, train 6 to 12 hours a week, do century rides and am 56 years old. I have no allergies and no health problems. My ancestry is entirely Northern European.

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