One person says milk and dairy products are good for you, others say to eat only raw dairy, and still others say to avoid dairy completely.
Who do you believe? Who do you follow?
You might already know that I’m in the middle camp (consume only raw dairy)…
However, I am 100% in favor of doing what’s best for your body.
I’m not going to throw dairy under the bus with a blanket statement that it’s all bad, yet I do think it’s possible that some people should avoid it for health reasons.
Let’s get into all that on today’s #AskWardee!
I broadcast #AskWardee live each Wednesday at 10am Pacific (1pm Eastern) on Periscope and Facebook Live. Both the podcast and video replay of this week’s show are below. Enjoy!
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The Question: Is Raw Dairy Good For You?
Stephanie L. asks:
I keep going back and forth on dairy, having read The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid a few years ago. I know that raw milk is good for you, but so many of the health summits I’ve listened to online the past couple years repeatedly state for optimal health, “get off sugar, gluten, dairy, etc…”
Can dairy truly benefit us? My husband is lactose intolerant which weighs in, too. Having read a little from the Fermentation purchase I made last year, maybe we could overcome that.
My Answer: Yes, Raw Dairy Is Good For You*!
Stephanie, here’s the thing…
Those health researchers are mostly speaking to the general public who are consuming conventional dairy.
Ok, yes, maybe in some cases, they’re speaking to an audience that is consuming raw dairy (or fermented raw dairy like yogurt or kefir).
Unfortunately, they don’t qualify their statements as whether they’re referring to conventional or artisan dairy. So, I take their recommendations with a grain of salt.
Because… if they are talking about conventional dairy, they’re absolutely right. 🙂
Conventional dairy should be avoided as much as possible. It’s no longer a real food!
The animals are raised in abhorrent, sick conditions; the milk is often laced with pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, and hormones. Then, it’s pasteurized and/or homogenized. This destroys enzymes, probiotics, and vitamins — it’s totally denatured.
On the other hand, raw dairy — especially pasture-raised raw dairy — is abundant with probiotics and enzymes. The notable enzyme is lactase, which is essential for digesting the milk sugar (lactose).
Pasture-raised dairy, from animals that are healthfully feasting on rapidly growing green grass, is also rich with healthy saturated fats, Omega-3s, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2. (See 23 Ways To Eat Fat-Soluble Vitamins for more info.)
When Should Raw Dairy Be Avoided?
Although I’m not a doctor and can’t give medical advice, I know of some situations where people are advised to avoid dairy (even raw) for good reasons.
Perhaps the individual is trying to heal the gut…
Lactose (milk sugar) feeds undesirable organisms and therefore should be avoided completely. Fermented raw dairy, however, with lactose reduced 100% — such as 24-hour yogurt or kefir — might be fine to introduce! Be sure to follow the recommendations of your natural physician or healing protocol.
Casein (milk protein) can be hard to digest for someone with compromised digestion. Therefore, to heal and reduce irritation, that person avoids milk and dairy.
Children with autism often do better when their parents eliminate food allergens in the diet such as milk protein and/or milk sugar.
People with health conditions that involve insulin sensitivity, like diabetes or PCOS, often need to scale back or eliminate the actual milk in favor of long-fermented dairy with lactose reduction.
Someone who is simply allergic to casein or lactose (or other components of milk) will feel better not eating dairy — raw or otherwise.
Finally, there is a genetic defect which affects the protein in the milk of conventional cows such as Holsteins. While heritage cows are not always free from this defect, many are. Holstein cows’ milk protein is called A1, and heritage cows’ milk protein is called A2. Some people, such as my friend Megan from Eat Beautiful, cannot consume A1 milk, but they can consume A2 milk. (There’s more info here at Choosing The Best Milk.)
Again, the avoidance may be for a time or it may be for a lifetime.
Every person and every situation is unique. In general, raw dairy is a beautiful, God-given food, yet it also stands to reason that certain individuals may have good reasons for avoiding it.
What About Lactose Intolerance?
Often, lactose-intolerant individuals are able to consume raw dairy because it “comes with” lactase, the enzyme required to digest it. This lactase is destroyed during pasteurization, yet abundant in raw milk.
Or, if this person still has trouble with even raw milk, they could add these lactase drops to raw milk (get 10% off through May 31, 2023 with coupon code WARDEEMAY23). Stephanie, you might want to try this with your husband.
Finally, keep in mind that lactose can be naturally reduced through culturing — especially by making raw milk yogurt that ferments for at least 24 hours. Here’s my FREE Thick Raw Milk Yogurt Recipe.
- FREE Thick Raw Milk Yogurt Recipe
- FREE Traditional Food Video Series
- Cultured Dairy eCourse
- Cultured Dairy eBook & Video Package
- The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid
- 23 Ways To Eat Fat-Soluble Vitamins
- How To Make Milk Kefir
- Best Fermentation Vessels (safe, affordable, easy)
- Got Raw Milk? Questions To Ask Your Farmer
- Choosing The Best Milk
- 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Raw Milk
- Raw Milk Q&A
- FREE Dairy-Free Milk Substitutes Guide & Recipes
- Lactase Drops — get 10% off through May 31, 2023 with coupon code WARDEEMAY23
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Do you consume raw or fermented raw dairy? Why or why not?
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Susan Myers says
It is illegal to sell raw milk i New York /state!!!
Peggy Rapko says
Not true. You cannot sell it to a store or restaurant, but you can buy raw milk directly from a farmer, we’ve been doing it for years. Our farmer is licensed to sell raw milk, you do have to bring your own container we use glass mason jar 1/2 gallon.
Susan Myers says
Watch the documentary FARMAGEDDON which can be seen on FMTV to see how those farmers who sell raw milk are being harassed and they confiscate their products and animals to try to shut them down.
pasteurized and ultrapasteurized milk is nothing but “dead food”
Susan Myers says
Almost all of the milk now is ultra pasteurized which kills off all the healthy bacteria.
I’m a little dumbfounded by the whole milk debate. I live in eastern NC, and raw milk is illegal in this state — I can’t even go to a local farmer and buy it. So, raw milk is not an option for me at all.
I do purchase the best, local, low heat pasturized milk I can find, and that has to do for us. I use it for drinking, baking, yogurt, and cottage/ricotta cheeses.
Since I have absolutely no access to raw milk, and in fact face prosecution if I buy it, this is the best I can do. Do I need to feel guilty? Probably not — but articles like this make me feel that way.
Please realize that not all of us are in situations where we can source the best things, and we have to do what we can. Could we give up dairy? I suppose so, but I am unwilling to do that, as I use dairy as a protein source, and still believe it is a vital part of a healthy, real food lifestyle.
I do ask that you be a little more considerate of those of us who are less fortunate in these things, and not be quite so absolute in your judgments of what is acceptable.
Wardee Harmon says
Susan ~ Ah, I’m sorry you felt judgement over this episode.
I hope you’ll be able to put this in context with all the other information I’ve shared over the years. Everyone needs to do the best they can; that’s all we can do. This is something I say all the time, in blog posts, videos, and member lessons.
This episode specifically addresses Stephanie’s question on whether raw milk is really good or not. I had to contrast it with conventional to show the true differences.
Did you watch the video? At around 7:36 in the video, I saw that even though I’m showing the extreme differences between raw and conventional dairy, there are actually gradations in there from Best to Worst, and to see the article linked above “Choosing The Best Milk” to see other options on the scale (not so severe) — to help everyone choose the best they can.
Additionally, I’ve said over and over through the years that when you ferment dairy, you make it better! That includes starting with conventional milk — fermenting makes it much better and a good choice. IMO. 🙂
I hope this helps! And again, I’m sorry you felt condemnation over your choice (or lack thereof). I applaud you for doing the best you can and being confident in it! <3
Sandy McKinnon says
Ontario Canada. Worked on air-cooled engines at a dairy. 1% milk is water and chalk!! When farmers where allowed to ship milk with more puss, i quit drinking milk. Now the only time i will is if i can milk the cow in a field of grass!!lol. PS: goats milk is much better health wise.
Sandy McKinnon says
Please excuse me but i have to ask. Is that an old-fashioned enamelled tin cup, like in the 1940’s?
Yes, I think it is. This is an image Wardee purchased, she doesn’t actually own the cup, but she’d love to have it! 🙂
~Danielle, TCS Customer Success Team
Wardee, I have learned so much from the Traditional Cooking School and really appreciate all the balanced information. Even when you just listen to the podcasts, blogs & Facebook, there is something for everyone.
I think you did a wonderful job of explaining the differences in dairy.
When I was told to get off dairy, sugar, gluten, etc., when my system crashed, at around 66 years old, I didn’t understand all the differences & I’m 70 now & still learning. I had purchased your book on Fermentation & that’s how I found you & the School.
You said it perfectly…….
“Ok, yes, maybe in some cases, they’re speaking to an audience that is consuming raw dairy (or fermented raw dairy like yogurt or kefir). Unfortunately, they don’t qualify their statements as whether they’re referring to conventional or artisan dairy. So, I take their recommendations with a grain of salt.
Because… if they are talking about conventional dairy, they’re absolutely right.”
If you have gut issues this is true. If you don’t, then you can choose to drink or culture what’s available.
I picked up no guilt or condemnation & appreciated your kind response.
I have not been paid by this program & have no ownership in the program. This is just my own comment.
Are you ever worried about the potential bad bacteria in the raw milk? Isn’t the reason they began pasteurizing milk because people were getting sick from drinking it raw?
Yes, pasteurization started when people began getting sick. This happened when the industrialization of milk production led to unsanitary living conditions of the dairy cows.
This is why it is important to get raw milk from small, local dairies that you trust. A far where the animals are well cared for and the milking area is sanitary. 🙂
~Danielle, TCS Customer Success Team
Is organic labeled milk the next best if one can’t get raw? Can organic half and half that has curdled safe to reuse and how?
Here is a post Wardee did on the order in which is best:
If your half-and-half is pasteurized and it has curdled I would not use it.
~Peggy, TCS Customer Success Team
Bruce Fernstrom says
One other thing that comes into play is that most people are lactose intolerant and that 5-35% of the worlds population are lactose persistent, depends on the source of info. It’s a genetic thing that determines whether you continue to produce your own lactase after you are weaned off your mothers milk. There are some ancestral areas in the world where this is more prevalent, northern Europe, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. I think it’s related to the agricultural history of these areas. Some of my ancestors come from northern Europe where reindeer were use as a source of dairy/food. Having a body that continued to produce lactase would have given them a genetic advantage in terms of survival over those that didn’t, especially in the winter. ; )