Is dairy allowed on the Paleo diet? Well, that really depends on who you ask. This is probably one of the most controversial and debated issues in the Paleo world. For Paleo purists the answer is a definitive no because you’re trying to follow the same eating habits that were available in the Paleolithic era, and dairy milk wasn’t part of the diet.
Others have fully embraced dairy and have practically elevated butter and ghee to superfood status. The rationale is that just because it wasn’t available in the Paleo era doesn’t mean it is bad for you. We also have to be flexible as we do live in a modern world. Take a look at the nutritional profile of dairy and decide for yourself whether or not you want to include any or all of it.
Milk Does a Body Good?
Make no mistake- full fat raw dairy can be loaded with proteins, fats, amino acids, and other nutrients that are extremely good for you. Fermented dairy like yogurt has good bacteria that you need to keep your gut healthy. If you’re trying to gain weight and build muscles then good dairy choices should be a regular part of your diet.
The Bad About Dairy
We are the only species on earth that consumes the milk of another, so many view dairy consumption as “unnatural”. Dairy contains lactose which a large portion of people can’t tolerate and the symptoms of lactose intolerance can be very mild, like a rumbling tummy or severe with painful cramps and vomiting.
Along with lactose intolerance many people have allergies to casein, the protein in milk. Dairy also has a high amount of carbs which can be insulin promoting. If weight loss is a goal then eliminating or cutting back on dairy might be necessary.
Factory farming doesn’t only ruin the quality of meat we consume it has wreaked havoc on the dairy industry too. Regular milk from the grocery store comes from cows that have been fed a diet of corn and grains and they have been given hormone supplements to increase milk production. Milk from grain fed cows has lower amount of omega 3s and higher amounts of omega 6 fats. Omega 6 fatty acids contribute to inflammation. If all that wasn’t enough, grain fed cows have higher incidences of infection and are given antibiotics that transfer to milk.
The Best Dairy Options
If you have opted to include dairy in your diet then go for the full fat, organic kind, and if you can get the raw unpasteurized kind from a local farmer then so much the better. Use butter or ghee for cooking, it is a better option than vegetable oils. Fermented dairy products like yogurt or some hard cheeses are also a good choice; they have less lactose and contain good bacteria for your gut.
With both good and bad points you can see why dairy is such a hotly debated issue in the Paleo community. Ultimately it will be up to you. Listen to your body, and see if you can tolerate dairy by paying attention to how you feel. You can try removing dairy for 30 days and reintroduce it slowly to make sure you can tolerate it.