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If dairy is so healthy, then why do so many people have trouble digesting it?

Milk and cheese are two of the healthiest fast foods I know. But many people are lactose intolerant, have milk allergies, or other reasons that dairy gives them trouble.  A sad thing, because dairy is the ultimate healthy fast food. I recently composed a post (complete with video) explaining why we develop allergies to processed food proteins.

If you are allergic to the protein in cow’s milk, you probably developed the allergy-inducing antibody due to ongoing intestinal inflammation from eating a pro-inflammatory diet. This is not to say that cow’s milk protein is uniquely bad, just that it is often included in processed foods that promote the intestinal inflammation that confuses your immune system. Even with protein allergies to cows milk you still may be able to drink goat’s milk, because the goat protein is slightly different, as well as cheeses that have been aged for a long time (90 days or more) as casein can be transformed to proteins with lesser immunoreactivity by the action of fermenting bacteria.

“I don’t always drink dairy. But when I do it’s fermented”

If you are lactose intolerant it’s because your body has turned off the intestinal enzymes for breaking milk sugar (lactose) into a form that can be absorbed into your bloodstream. This often occurs after an intestinal infection damages the cells lining your digestive tract, and many people notice they develop discomfort after drinking milk and avoid it. Within a few weeks, the lining regrows and you regain the capacity to digest lactose, but if you don’t use this metabolic machinery because you’re still avoiding dairy, the enzymes can be shut off again, perhaps permanently. Even so, you can still consume dairy that is lactose-free or fermented (like yogurt and cheese) because probiotic bacteria consume most or all of the lactose.

None of this is to suggest that if you don’t like dairy you have to have it. Only that if you are enjoying your new Paleo lifestyle but want to add cream or cheese to your omelets, or drink fresh milk with real whey protein after your workout you should go ahead and enjoy. In my opinion, you’re simply participating in an ancient ritual celebrating the wonderful gift of the ungulate.

Dr. Cate

With over two decades of clinical experience and expertise in genetic and biochemical research, Dr. Cate can help you to reverse metabolic disease and reshape your body.

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