All About Dairy

May 2015 - Nutrition

You are what you eat. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, and I’m sure you’ve heard this from me many times as well. This statement tends to be on repeat in my head, so you’ll hear it from me all the time. Why? It’s important to your health.

I think and say it often because your cells have been created by the food you eat, which means every time you sit down to a delicious meal (or stuff food in your mouth while running from one place to another) you’re making a decision on the quality of your cells. And that’s pretty darn cool. But, I want you to add one more line to this statement:

You are what you eat. And, you are what you eat… eats.

This means, when you’re eating any sort of animal product (meat, dairy, honey, etc.), the quality of that food depends on the health and the diet of that animal. So, what they’ve eaten determines the quality of your cells as well.

This is why I argue that if your grocery budget has limitations (like it does for most of us), the first place to put your hard earned dollars into organics is by purchasing organic meat and dairy. To balance your budget, reduce your quantities of these foods while increasing the quality.

Let’s start with dairy. The quality of all dairy products is determined by this little equation: quality of the animal’s diet + quality of processing = quality of product.

The best diet for a cow is grass, so cows that eat only grass tend to produce the best quality milk. This milk is high in an essential fat called CLA, which may help to reduce belly fat and is anti-inflammatory. The next best milk comes from cows that eat a 100% organic diet.

How the milk is processed is also important, because it’s much harder to digest milk that has been highly processed.

Least processed to most processed: Unhomogenized whole milk, whole, 2%, 1%, skim, modified milk ingredients (you’ll see this as an ingredient in food products).

Skim milk, which has been touted as the “healthiest” milk for years, due to its low fat content, is a highly processed food product and is very difficult to digest. It’s also difficult to absorb the added Vitamin D because the fat has been removed. The gold-star milk is unhomogenized whole milk from grass-fed cows…and this is available in the dairy section at Nature’s Fare Markets.

This lovely fermented food can be very good for your gut, your gut bacteria, and your overall health…when done properly. The best yogurt is made from the best milk (unhomogenized whole milk) and is fermented with “active bacterial cultures”. That’s it, just two ingredients. Sweeten it yourself with fruit or honey and you’ve got a great breakfast or snack!

Many of us have a genuine love for cheese and understandably so. It can be really glorious. I don’t eat a lot of dairy, but I have a weak spot for nicely smoked cheddar.

Raw milk cheese is the best type of cheese; this how it was made traditionally and it’s a properly fermented food. It can be easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance. A very close second are cheeses from local producers who use great quality milk (including milk from grass-fed cows). Nature’s Fare Markets carries a great selection of these kinds of cheeses.

Leave on the shelf any cheese that has “modified milk ingredients” listed on the label. This is a big red flag for a highly processed food product.

Dairy Alternatives
If you’d prefer not to eat any dairy products due to digestive issues or you’ve made an ethical choice, enjoy the many milk alternatives like almond, cashew, rice, hemp, or my favourite, coconut milk. These can take the place of milk in recipes or in cereal.

Look out for added sugars and preservatives. Always check the ingredient list and watch out for any unrecognizable ingredients. This is a good rule of thumb for all food purchases.

If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough calcium, don’t fret! Vegetables, especially green leafy veggies, are full of all of the bone-building minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin K, and research has found that calcium is much more absorbable in veggie form than in milk (50%+ absorbability vs. 30% absorbability in milk). A diet high in veggies (raw, cooked, and fermented) is a healthy diet that can keep your bones strong!

Everything I’ve talked about is available in the dairy section or milk alternative section at Nature’s Fare Markets. Just remember for dairy products, choose quality over quantity and your body will thank you! Enjoy!

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