Many of my clients are curious to know where I stand on dairy consumption. So while there isn’t too much to be said for the letter “D” in FODMAP I thought I would expand onto this “D” for debateable topic…
DISACCHARIDE refers to two sugar units bound together. The only disaccharide that is potentially problematic on the FODMAP diet is LACTOSE – the sugar found in animal milks.
Lactose is a combination of GLUCOSE + GALACTOSE. You may have heard of people who are lactose intolerant… this is not the same as a dairy allergy, but rather, is an inability to digest it. In order to break down this sugar we need the enzyme lactase – something that is in abundance when we are infants (lactose is in human breast milk too), but that decreases with age.
DID YOU KNOW… it is more common to be lactose intolerant than lactose tolerant?
Just like with the OLIGOSACCHARIDES in my previous post, if you are unable to digest lactose it leads to fermentation in the small intestines which can result in a range of problems such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, pain and inflammation. However, a lactose free diet does not need to be completely dairy free… most people find that they can tolerate small amounts of hard cheese, kefir, butter and cream.
DID YOU KNOW… that skim and low-fat milk contain more lactose than full cream milk? Just another reason why you should switch to the full fat version.
Now, onto my stance on dairy… while I am not a vegan by any stretch, I really am not that fond of dairy. Why? We are not baby cows. Or goats. Or sheep. Or buffalo. Milk serves a purpose in infancy. It is absolutely the most nutritionally sound and comprehensive food that is available to us when we are newborns. In fact, the human body is so intelligent that it tailors the breast milk to suit the baby’s needs at that stage in the growth cycle. However, we do eventually wean from breast milk and start consuming solids.
This is the same for all other mammals. Just because cows’ milk is widespread in our food system, doesn’t mean that they are milk making machines. Just like humans, if you continue to milk them, they will continue to produce milk. This is because we are effectively TRICKING THEIR BODIES into thinking that their young are still feeding. Furthermore, the only reason that we drink cows milk rather than any other species is because they are small enough to be contained en masse, while large enough to produce a great supply.
On top of this, modern farming and production methods leave milk even more undesirable. You know how lactating women can often get mastitis? Well it can happen to cows too… the result of what ends up in the milk I don’t even want to think about.
So then it is PASTEURISED. According to food safety bodies in Australia this is to kill all of the bacteria and make milk a safe product for human consumption, however there is a strong body of evidence to the contrary. Firstly, while the bacteria in the milk may be killed off at high temperatures, it is still in the milk that you are consuming. So yes it is inactive, however the body still can recognise it as a pathogen and therefore mount an immune response. Dairy is now commonly accepted as one of the LEADING DIETARY ALLERGENS – being linked to numerous skin, gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders to name a few. The fact that your body has an immune response to it may offer some explanation as to why.
Furthermore, the pasteurisation process destroys the ENZYMES and BENEFICIAL BACTERIA in milk that are required to properly digest it. It also destroys many VITAMINS and MINERALS as well as changes the structure of the PROTEINS. In many other countries raw milk is completely legal and is consumed readily. If I were to drink any milk, this is what I would consume, however unfortunately in Australia it is currently illegal.
Think about it… if milk is not going to be pasteurised, then the farmers must be sure that there is no harmful bacteria or other dangerous substances in the milk. As such, the cows are kept in OPTIMAL HEALTH, raised without antibiotics and hormones, and are not milked to excess. They are also kept with their calves, so the calf feeds first, and then the cow is milked for consumption. The raw milk still contains bacteria, but this is the beneficial bacteria that boosts IMMUNITY, enzymes which aid DIGESTION, as well as all of the original vitamins and minerals.
DID YOU KNOW… that you are statistically more likely to get injured driving to pick up your raw milk than you are likely to get sick from drinking it?
Further to the debate between raw and pasteurised dairy is the topic of animal welfare. I feel like I am already saying too much for one day… so please, I urge you to watch the video below. WARNING it is quite distressing, but if you choose to consume dairy products I think it is important to know what goes on behind the scenes.
May I just close with saying that I am not exclusively dairy free. I come from a family of dairy farmers, and I think there is definitely therapeutic value in consuming SOME dairy products for SOME people. Ghee and kefir pop up in my fridge from time to time, I will drink raw milk on occasion and if I eat out and about or at a friend’s house, I won’t be so rigid that I won’t eat dairy containing foods. That said, I will ALWAYS buy organic. This is an absolute. And dairy products are certainly not a staple in my diet.
So the choice is yours. Dairy products certainly have a long traditional usage in many diets around the world, and as I said, some products can be therapeutic. But please think carefully about what you are consuming, and choose to make an educated and informed decision with your dollar.