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Dairy can be a good source of nutrition, but only if you choose the right dairy milk products.
Should you be eating lots of cream? What about cheese or fruit-flavored yogurt? And does it really matter if you buy organic or grass-fed milk products?
In this article, I will cover:
- The problems with conventional dairy products.
- Why you want to only eat organic and grass-fed dairy foods.
- The best and worst dairy products.
- When you should avoid these foods completely.
- The bottom line on dairy in the diet.
The problems with conventional dairy products
Dairy that is produced on commercial factory farms can come with a whole list of issues. When cows are fed grains instead of grass and the farms aren't organic, the products that we end up buying are contaminated with all sorts of harmful things that disrupt our bodies.
Here are the top harmful things that end up in conventional milk and milk products:
1. GMOs, pesticides, and herbicides.
Rather than being out at pasture eating grass, grain-fed cows are fed grains that are loaded with GMOs, pesticides, and herbicides. Usually, their food is made up of grains like soy and corn. That soy and corn is usually GMO and will have glyphosate on it. This means that when you drink the milk or eat the products that come from grain-fed cow's milk, you will be exposed to foods that have GMOs and harmful products in them.
2. Animal byproducts.
Another thing that happens with commercial dairy farming is that the cows can legally be fed the waste products of other animals. Does that sound appealing to you?
The animals are also given lots of antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease in such unhealthy living conditions. These antibiotics make it right into the milk. That means that anything you eat that is made from their milk has antibiotics in it, too.
4. Growth hormones.
A major issue with conventionally produced dairy is the use of growth hormones. rBST is one growth hormone that is given to cows. While Monsanto will lead you to believe that it is safe (as they are the ones selling it), it is no good to put into your body. Europe hasn't allowed it to be used since 1990, and it was banned in Canada in 2000. It has also been banned in Argentina, Israel, Australia, and Japan. We shouldn't be allowing it in the US, either.
5. Added sugars.
Lots of sugar is often added to processed dairy products to make them tastier. So even foods that are supposedly healthy, like yogurt, can have massive amounts of sugar. The sugar content in fruit-flavored high-fat yogurts can be as much as drinking a soda. This will just boost your insulin levels out of control and clog up your arteries.
To avoid all of these major drawbacks of common dairy products, it is important to make your food choices carefully.
First off, all dairy products you eat should be labeled with two things: organic and grass fed.
Opt for organic and grass-fed dairy products only
Buying organic and grass-fed ensures that you are avoiding exposure to all of the unhealthy things listed above like pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics.
- Organic means that it is free of pesticides, GMOs, animal byproducts, and antibiotics.
- Grass fed means that the animal was raised on grass, not artificial grain with all sorts of unhealthy ingredients. The ideal situation is to find 100% grass-fed, although 95% grass fed is pretty good too. Learn more about grass fed versus grain fed here.
But even within the organic, grass-fed dairy products, there are some choices that are better than others.
The best and worst dairy and milk choices
When you look at all the choices available - from cream cheese to yogurt to whole milk - there is a lot of variety. So what is the best kind to eat, and what should be avoided?
Aside from organic and grass-fed, the biggest thing to consider is how much sugar and carbohydrates are in the food.
For example, some of the high sugar options that should be avoided include yogurts, kefir, and even 2% milk. Of course, ice cream and other milk-based desserts should be avoided as well.
On the other hand, there is low sugar content in things like cheese, butter, ghee (clarified butter), sour cream, half and half, whole cream, and cream cheese.
Here is a breakdown of the best and worse dairy milk products:
- 100% grass-fed and organic products.
- Ghee (clarified butter).
- Whole cream.
- Half and half.
- Raw goat cheese and raw sheep cheese.
- Cheese (especially aged cheeses).
- Any milk or dairy that is grain fed or not organic. All commercial or processed dairy products.
- Yogurt (especially the sweetened, fruit-flavored ones).
- Processed cheeses like Velveeta.
- Sugar-filled foods like ice cream.
When to avoid dairy completely
Some people's bodies just don't agree well with dairy. There are two main instances where I recommend removing milk from the diet completely.
1. If you have a casein allergy. Casein is the milk protein. If you have a true food allergy to dairy, then you will get bloating and other issues when you eat any of it.
2. If you are lactose intolerant. A lot of people don't have enough lactase (an enzyme) to break down lactose (which is the sugar in milk). This means that you will end up getting diarrhea, bloating, or other symptoms when you consume milk.
Here are some tips for doing dairy-free keto if you want to give it a try. You can still get really good nutrition and eat well with this approach. And if you want to get boost your calcium intake without dairy, check out these non-dairy sources of calcium.
The bottom line
When it comes to dairy, it is okay to eat certain milk products while doing the ketogenic diet plan.
Just make sure that they are always organic and grass-fed dairy products. And go for things like cheeses, ghee, whole cream, and sour cream rather than dairy that is high in sugar like yogurt, milk, and kefir.
Ultimately, it is important to stick to the good sources and to not overdo it with dairy. Try to do small amounts, and mix up your diet with plenty of other healthy foods that are high in nutrition like vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats.
Do you include dairy in your diet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.