Dairy or No Dairy??

To eat dairy or not eat dairy?? That is a common question from many of my patients. Well it depends…..

If you are struggling with GI issues or have been struggling to feel your ultimate best, then dairy might be something to look at a little closer. Besides being obviously lactose intolerant there are some other things to consider that could be contributing to your symptoms. 

Is the dairy product from an A1 or A2 cow?
A1 is a type of casein protein found only in milk from Holstein cows, which happens to be the most predominant type in the USA and other countries such as Canada, Australia, and the UK. For some individuals, this protein is pro-inflammatory and can stimulate your immune system to release pro-inflammatory chemical messengers. A recent double blind randomized cross over trial found that A1 casein was associated with increased gastrointestinal inflammation, reducing intestinal transit time (more prone to diarrhea), and impaired brain function, specifically cognitive speed and accuracy.

Fortunately, A1 casein is not an issue for all individuals. However, if you have struggled with any of the following symptoms then you may consider eliminating A1 dairy. The symptoms include: hay fever, sinus infections, eczema, asthma, and recurring tonsillitis or ear infections. If you do experience any of these symptoms, then I recommend a complete dairy free diet for 4 weeks. Then add in A2 dairy to see if symptoms return. If NO, then A1 dairy should be replaced with A2 dairy as desired. If YES, then stick to a complete dairy free diet using fortified nut milks, soy milks, or coconut milk products. Dairy products from A2 cows include Jersey or Guernsey. Goat and sheep dairy products are also free of A1.

Some products from A1 cows such as butter, heavy cream, ricotta, and isolated whey protein do not contain significant amounts of A1 and can often be well tolerated.

For some more information regarding A1 vs A2 dairy read this great blog post by Laura Briden. 

Is the dairy product organic and grass-fed?
Choosing organic dairy is a very important. Organic dairy animals are raised without antibiotics or endocrine disrupting chemical and hormones. Therefore, consuming a large amount of conventional dairy can contribute to hormonal imbalances. Also, organic dairy cows must be pasture-raised throughout the grazing seasoning, thus increasing the nutrition profile of their dairy products. Grass-fed dairy products are high in omega-3 (anti-inflammatory fatty acid), vitamin A, and vitamin E. Conventional dairy on the other hand is higher in omega-6 (pro-inflammatory fatty acid) due to the high consumption of corn in place of grass. Furthermore, conventional dairy products have lesser amounts of vitamins A and E as well.

There are a lot of other aspects to dairy that I will not discuss right now in this blog post, but the above two points can help steer you in the right direction, whether or not dairy will be apart of your diet in the future.

Since most of us enjoy dairy products with a cereal or granola of some sort, I decided to share my favorite super simple, very tasty, and 100% whole food granola. It was inspired by Blue Heron Rebel Granola that I often buy in the BULK section at the co-op. I decided I wanted to try my own attempt at replicating their tasty granola….and I think I hit the nail on the head!! There is no added sugar, just dates for sweetness, and no added oils. The outcome is a completely healthy, crunchy, and gluten free granola that all can enjoy. I enjoy this granola with goat milk yogurt of kefir often.

Oil Free Happy Belly Granola
Makes ~ 16 servings (1/4 cup)

3 cups gluten free rolled oats
¾ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
12 pitted medjool dates
½ cup hot water
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the first 4 ingredients and set aside. Coarsely chop the medjool dates and transfer into a food processor. Pulse and gradually add the hot water and sea salt. Add optional spices if desired. Process until a smooth paste forms.

Transfer the date paste to the other ingredients and mix until fully combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly distribute the oat mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes and stir. Bake for another 10-15 minutes and stir again. Then bake again for an additional 5-10 minutes. Stir one last time and remove from oven and allow to cool completely before breaking apart the clusters and transferring into a glass jar for storage.

Enjoy with your choice of yogurt, kefir, or nut milk and top with fresh fruit.  

Note: You can add spices to this recipe if you like. Cinnamon and cardamom would be good additions.

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