I started my journey to natural foods and natural health with raw milk.
It was there at the very beginning and even though I’ve never personally been a milk fan, my husband and children are so I made sure to give them the cleanest, most nourishing milk I could find which was straight from a trusted farmer and into their glass. I also made cheeses and cultured dairy products and I was completely happy with it. Eventually certain cultured products like sour cream I’d just buy commercial organic to save myself the time.
During the course of my studies, however, I’ve found that cow dairy might not be the best thing for humans to consume. I know, the vegans have been saying for years how it’s only meant for baby cows and it’s evil, causes heart disease, blah blah blah.
A2 cow milk, which is the milk from traditional herds versus the newer breeds of cow, is not linked to heart issues. But that’s really another story, isn’t it?
And before I go here I wanted to clarify that I still support raw milk and drinking raw milk for some people. I think it’s beautiful to see people involved in the natural food movement in any way. For our family, we’re in the process of exploring whether it works for us or not.
To back up a bit, I love cheese. My favorite food in the world is cheese and crackers with a cup of tea (English style, please, with a drop of milk). First I had to take my crackers away and replace them with something suitably crisp but not aggravating to my GI like wheat and gluten. It wasn’t easy. I went with rice crackers first, then eventually found the Simple Mills brand with their almond/tapioca crackers. Plus I also make my own that taste pretty similar to the ol’ Wheat Thin type without all of the starch. So I had my crackers back! ::throws confetti::
Then I found out that I might not be able to eat cheese or milk in my tea.
But why? I’ve read for years that raw milk products are okay. Not homogenized or pasteurized, clean source, A2 preferably, and you’re golden, right? I had to go read up on why dairy isn’t good for everyone. How it can cause issues for people with auto-immune disorders, yes even the good kind of milk!
Obviously this isn’t as big of a problem these days with the advent of lactose free dairy products. Lactose is dairy sugar and there is an enzyme found in raw milk that breaks down the lactose which is why most people intolerant to store-bought milk can drink raw milk with no issues. The sugar in dairy, though, can still be a hidden danger. Even with lactose free milk products the amount of sugar in that compared to an unsweetened dairy free alternative is about 5 times the naturally occurring sugar as say, almond milk or coconut milk.
Sugar is always sugar and has to be watched carefully. I don’t worry too much about calories or fat grams but I watch sugars like a hawk.
Many people who follow natural health have probably heard of casein, especially as it relates to diets for ASD and Celiac patients. Most people who are true Celiac must also avoid casein, largely due to the fact that the molecular structure of gluten and casein are very similar and the best theory now is that they are what is called molecular mimics of each other.
But since casein can be a molecular mimic of gluten can it also mimic anything else?
Thanks for asking! Yes it certainly can. Casein, gluten, and other lectins (found in beans, corn, grains, soy, and nightshades) can mimic human tissues. When we eat these they can go into the body and if we’re already on a train wreck to bad health through a compromised GI lining, for example, then our body can misread these molecules in such a way as to cause an autoimmune response. This is the reason why AIP (auto-immune paleo) protocols are so strict.
When you look at all of the things your body can have a negative reaction to you start to wonder if there are any foods you can eat safely. It can be very discouraging if you don’t have a friend or even a group online to help you get through. I do see a day, though, maybe many years from now where everyone is made more aware of the dangers of eating certain foods. The more people who are made aware of the WHYs means we get closer every day. There’s even hope that once your immune system and digestive system are fully healed that you can even eat wheat again without causing an atom bomb to go off in your gut.
I’m all about having a back up plan, though, so let’s keep moving and I’ll go over some great alternatives at the end. Casein falls into alpha and beta categories, by the way. There is some speculation that goat and sheep milk might be just fine or at least less damaging. Since I’m still in the process of experimenting with that I will not give a definite answer here other than to encourage others who can to try and see how they do with it.
But you best believe I will be there with bells on for some goat milk cheddar if I am non-reactive for it. Oh yes.
Just like the word implies, there is a connection to opiates with casomorphin. Casomorphins are peptides that are intimately connected to casein protein. Since casein protein is the sort of ‘glue’ in milk that means when you separate off the whey protein from the curd (or casein) protein the casomorphins become concentrated which helps explain my addiction to cheese and sour cream.
There are people who say that casomorphins aren’t addictive but I disagree with them. For people who might be emotionally or physically prone to self-medicating or to addictions of other kinds casomorphins can provide a calm that can be addictive. Does that mean everyone? Nope. But for me I am under emotional stress much of the time and combine that with my MTHFR gene mutation issue I’m prone to wanting to self-medicate if I don’t watch myself.
Self-medicating can come in many forms. Most people think of it as drugs or alcohol, which were never my thing. But I was a smoker for eight long years and when I stopped smoking I turned to food (and cheese especially, funny enough) to get my calm fix. Part of that probably had to do with not having an appetite suppressant like cigarettes around but the other part was that I needed to relax and my body searched for any way to do that. If you look at how many people are addicted to drugs, especially prescription drugs, then you’ll realize how big the problem can be. That doesn’t make cheese evil in my view, but it can be a vehicle to poor health if you are prone to those issues already.
Woman, what the heck do you want me to eat? You keep taking my food away!
This is probably the wrong way to look at things. When you focus too much on what you CAN’T eat you not only sound like one of those people but it’s limiting and negative. Which of these sounds better to you:
‘Sorry I can’t eat that. It has gluten. That has too many lectins. I can’t have nightshades, dairy, gluten, nuts, berries, seeds, coconut, meat, vegetables, grains, or anything that grows above or below the ground. Food in general, really. That’s why I’m a Breatharian now.’
‘Thanks for inviting me over. I can have some of those eggs there and some of the salad greens to go with the meat if you don’t mind. Do you have some olive oil and vinegar for this?’
I’m also not saying that everyone can’t have dairy or that dairy is bad for everyone. What I am saying is that dairy is a ‘trigger’ food for good reason and everyone should explore whether it is healthy for them. When we decided to cut grains and sugar from our diet for better health, dairy didn’t even occur to me as a possible problem because I thought we were doing everything right . . . even though we were still suffering from some of the same health problems just less than before. Less unhealthy is still unhealthy. Perfect health should be radiant, not dimmed, right?
In the next week or two I will be posting a few recipes for cultured non-dairy products people can try. I’m especially excited about a cheap alternative I’ve put together for sour cream and cream cheese! Until then, please share some of your favorite alternatives in the comments below.