A period of eliminating all dairy products from your diet is a feature of most elimination diet programmes designed to help you identify problem foods. So the first thing to say is that the main reason we are suggesting dairy exclusion is to do with the inquiry into health issues.
In the first month of the stoneage diet excluding dairy can present a few problems. It is hard to cut out sugar and grains from the diet without immediately substituting them with fats. To quote Kurt Harris, “the best weapons you have to replace unhealthy carb intake with fat in a convenient fashion (without eating brains, liver and marrow of wild game every day) are butter and milkfat.”
This means that for some people who might have absolutely no problems with dairy products, their exclusion can present a barrier in the early days of adopting the diet whilst you are transitioning away from carb dependency. Hopefully the brief outline below will help you to decide on the dairy issue.
So, what are we talking about?
What to Avoid
- Milk - cow’s, goat’s, sheep’s, and any other four legged creature.
- Cream, cheese, cottage cheese etc.
- Yoghurt, kefir, and any other product that could remotely be considered “dairy”.
Why Not Dairy?
These are the main arguments against consuming dairy:
- The Paleolithic Argument
- Inflammatory Response
- Spike in Insulin Levels
- Lactose Intolerance
- Steroid Hormones
The Paleolithic Argument
Dairy foods are a relatively new addition to the human diet. Current evidence suggests that although domestication of livestock started around 11,000 years ago, the earliest signs of dairy consumption, as which are residues of dairy fats on pottery found in Britain, dates to 6,000 years ago.
Milk contains various proteins, including casein. Many people are really not well adapted to digesting these proteins, and they can leak through the gut wall into the bloodstream, where they can trigger an immune response.
Symptoms due to cow’s milk allergy in children and adults can include:
- Respiratory - recurrent or persistent rhinitis or nasal stuffiness, recurrent bronchitis with, or without wheezing, asthma.
- Gastrointestinal - IBS, abdominal pain, diarrhoea.
- Vascular - urticaria, purpura and headaches, including migraines.
- Urinary tract - urinary frequency.
- Neurological and behavioural disorders.
Spike in Insulin Levels
Milk and milk products, especially yoghurt, commonly cause a spike in insulin production. Drinking milk also elevates the blood concentration of a hormone called Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). This hormone increases growth in stature in children, but also increases the risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. How this happens is not particularly well understood, but could be because:
- milk already contains bovine IGF-1, which crosses into the bloodstream, or
- milk dramatically increases our insulin response, and this in turn increases the release of IGF-1 into the blood stream.
Cheeses do not cause the same high insulin response as milk, yogurt and other fermented dairy products, but is one of the most acidic of all foods. Paradoxically, despite its high calcium content, its net acidic load promotes calcium loss from the bones.
Dairy products contain a sugar called lactose. An inability to digest this sugar, due to deficiency of the enzyme lactase, afflicts the majority of the world’s adult population (mainly non-caucasians).
Lactose intolerance tends to cause gut related symptoms, such as bloating, wind and diarrhoea. There was a sudden rise in the incidence of these symptoms amongst the black population in Britain a few years ago when the Milk Marketing Board decided to use the sprinter, Linford Christie, to advertise milk on television. Doh!
Milk and dairy products are a major source of animal derived oestrogens in the human diet. All types of milk - full fat, semi-skimmed, pasteurised, etc. contain these oestrogens, so they seem to survive any amount of processing. Also, we are not talking here about hormones that are artificially injected into the cow, but oestrogens that are naturally produced by the female bovine species, so organic milk isn’t exempt either.