What’s the Story with Dairy?

Here at Be Well, we believe that there is not one diet that is right for everyone, which means we encourage patients to get curious about how certain foods make them feel to determine if they work well with their body. Although not all foods follow this individualized plan (things like gluten and sugar are generally no-nos), dairy is one of the foods we spend time talking about with patients, and that is because there are a few things to consider when deciding if dairy is a good choice.

Not All Dairy Is Created Equal

Choosing good-quality dairy is incredibly important, not only because it is richer in nutrients, but also because it doesn’t contain all of the hormones and antibiotics that factory-farmed dairy contains. Things such as growth hormones and antibiotics used in conventional farming methods are transferred over to us when we eat such products, which can lead to hormone imbalance, a compromised microbiome, and systemic inflammation.

Good-quality dairy can include local dairy products found at your farmers’ market, such as sheep-milk yogurt and raw goat cheese. It may also include grass-fed butter and ghee, organic cheeses, and unsweetened kefir. These types of foods are a good source of healthy fat and protein and can make up part of a healthy diet.

When it is an option, we always recommend choosing full-fat dairy products that have not been sweetened. Sheep- and goat-milk dairy is generally easier for the body to digest when compared to cow-milk products.

Dairy Is A Common Food Sensitivity

One of the best ways to determine if dairy is a good choice for you is to cut it out for two weeks and then reintroduce it, watching to see if you have any reactions. If dairy is a problem for you, you may feel some digestive upset, such as bloating, gas, or heartburn, or you may notice that your stool is loose and you have the need to run to the bathroom. Other sensitivities may include stomach pains, headaches, skin irritations, or feeling fatigued.

For this reason, we remove dairy on our 2-Week Cleanse. It gives participants the opportunity to feel for themselves if milk products are a good choice to incorporate into their diet.

Dairy Can Cause Inflammation

Even if dairy doesn’t cause any physical reactions for you, we don’t usually recommend having it in large quantities or with every meal. After all, dairy comes from lactating cows and therefore contains hormones, which when taken in excess can cause imbalance in the body.  

Instead of having a big glass of milk with meals, try a little goat-milk cheese in your salad, or instead of purchasing a yogurt parfait at your coffee shop, reach for a local sheep-milk yogurt and add your own toppings (see the recipes below).

Here are a few ways you can incorporate good-quality dairy into your diet in just the right amounts:

Sheep-Milk Yogurt With Nuts And Berries

  • ½ cup unsweetened sheep-milk yogurt
  • ¼ cup berries
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

In a small bowl, place yogurt and top with berries, walnuts, chia seeds, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Summer Salad with Goat Cheese

  • 2 big handfuls arugula
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 4 strawberries, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon local goat cheese
  • ½ avocado, chopped
  • rganic chicken or grilled wild shrimp (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

In a large bowl, combine arugula, sunflower seeds, strawberries, goat cheese, avocado, and chicken or shrimp, if using. Top with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Bulletproof Coffee

This may sound strange, but adding grass-fed butter to your morning coffee could be a great idea, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t usually eat breakfast! Read our Bulletproof Coffee blog post to learn more.

  • 1 cup organic coffee
  • 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter
  • 1 tablespoon MCT oil or coconut oil

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until frothy.

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