Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dairy or non Dairy?

I think my opinion of eating patterns can be summed up best by "Whatever works for you..."  Although what we eat at our house tends towards a Paleo approach, we do consume dairy products, which are a big no-no.

But being of solid Northern European stock, combined with my love of good cheese and butter, a daily cappuccino, and the odd creme brulee, I definitely get a failing grade from the "avoid dairy" camp.

For people with lactose intolerance, I can see a distinct advantage to avoiding milk products.  But not all of us are lactose intolerant.  Paleo adherents and vegans alike both make claims that only 20% of the world's population is lactose tolerant.  What they fail to say is that where you are from has a lot to do with it.  If you are of Asian descent, milk is likely to cause you problems.  If you are from Northern Europe, where milk has been a constant part of the food supply for thousands of years, you might be cursed with freckles and an inability to tan safely, but you are much likely to be able to drink milk without needing to run to the bathroom 30 minutes afterwards.

I also make milk kefir and drink it on a regular basis.  This is supposedly very good for the health of your gut flora, and is delicious in a smoothie.  I go through phases of making yoghurt, but kefir is even easier.  Once you have a supply of kefir grains, all you do is add them to a glass of fresh milk from the fridge, and leave the concoction to stand, loosely covered, on the kitchen counter for 24 hours.  Strain, and add to smoothies or drink as is.  The next batch is made by adding the strained kefir grains to a new glass of milk and repeating the process.

But away from recipes and fermented milk products.  Sticking to the facts, if you are looking for an intelligent, balanced and unbiased overview of dairy vs. non-dairy, you might be interested in David Katz's take.  Admittedly his view is remarkably similar to mine, so maybe I'm just drawn to him because he affirms my own opinion.

He says:
There are few if any studies comparing optimal plant-based diets with and without dairy, or optimal Paleo diets with and without dairy. Such studies are not even plausible, but in their absence, we can't say that adding dairy to such diets would make them better, or worse. There is no good evidence-based case for healthy vegans to add dairy to their diets. On the other hand, I can find no good evidence that popular dairy substitutes are reliably more nutritious.

Read the full article here.

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