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Do you eat dairy? According to the California Milk Advisory Board, 90% of Americans enjoy ice cream on a regular basis, and that number hasn’t changed in over 30 years. However, because of lactose intolerance, the milk you put on your cereal or the ice cream you eat in front of the TV at night probably isn’t sitting well with you and is causing gas, bloating and other digestive issues. Not only that, but certain types of dairy products can increase your risk of allergy, Type 1 Diabetes and Coronary Artery Disease. How do we make our dairy consumption healthy? Here are the DOs and DON’Ts for healthy dairy consumption.
According to USDA data, the average American adult eats about 1 ton (2,000 pounds!) of food per year, and out of that ton about 630 pounds is dairy products. While the amount of red meat we’re eating is decreasing, the amount of cheese and yogurt we’re eating is on the increase.
Why is it specifically yogurt and cheese that are on the rise? The answer is found in the lactose content. Lactose is a complex sugar found in milk, which has to be broken down into simple sugars to be absorbed. The enzyme that breaks this sugar down is lactase, and lactase deficiency causes lactose intolerance. Worldwide, 75% of people are lactose intolerant. Some ethnic populations, especially African, Middle Eastern, Southern Asian and Jewish, are more prone to lactase deficiency with lactose intolerance rates higher than 90% in some cases. The good news is you can still enjoy fermented dairy like yogurt, kefir and some cheeses even with lactose intolerance.
Which forms of dairy are the most easily digested? Fermented milk products like yogurt, kefir and cheeses have the lowest amounts of lactose and contain enzymes and probiotics, which help your body break down the lactose. Raw milk cheeses aged more than 60 days are preferred over pasteurized cheeses because they contain more active enzymes and probiotics. The aging is important; the acids and salts naturally present need time to break down any harmful pathogens that could cause illness. Yogurt and kefir made at home can be fermented until the lactose is almost completely gone, making these the most well-tolerated forms of dairy for lactose intolerant people.
Also important to think about is ultra-pasteurization and homogenization. Most milk commonly available in stores has been through these processes. Ultra-pasteurization heats milk to 280 degrees for 2 seconds then rapidly cools it. Milk proteins are fragile and change their shape during this process. These flattened proteins are no longer digestible, and because the proteins look foreign to our bodies we mount an immune response to them, which turns into an allergy.
The issue with homogenization is similar; it changes the size and shape of fats in the milk so they stay suspended instead of the cream rising to the top. These foreign fats can also cause inflammation and milk allergy.
Milk is composed primarily of water, fats and sugars (lactose). Simply put, when we remove the fats from the milk, we are left with lactose sugar water – the enemy of lactose intolerant individuals. In addition, these products often contain added sugars to enhance the flavor. If you have read any of the Fat Flush family of books from Ann Louise Gittleman, then you know these high sugar, low fat milk products will not help with weight loss, and can contribute to heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
When it comes to milk proteins, there is a class that stands alone in reducing risks of allergies, Type 1 diabetes, and heart disease. This protein is A2, and is a proline-rich, anti-inflammatory health superstar. The A2 protein is the easily digested, more ancient form of casein, found in human breast milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, and milk from Jersey cows and African and Asian breeds. The French commonly use A2 to milk to make their world-renowned cheeses; they never made the switch to the A1 form simply because of taste and texture. Because of its limited availability in the US, whey protein powder made from A2 milk is the most accessible form of this high quality protein.
Detailed in Keith Woodford’s book Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health, and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk, the A1 protein is actually a histidine-rich mutated form of casein, and is commonly found in US dairy products. The big problem with the A1 protein is its inability to bind a strong opiate called BCM7, which when loose in the human GI tract can cause immune response issues leading to Type 1 Diabetes and other autoimmune diseases, inflammation in arteries leading to coronary artery disease, and neurologic issues in humans including autism and schizophrenia.
The most popular protein powders in the market are whey-based, and for good reason – whey is rich in glutathione, the second strongest antioxidant in the body. It supports the immune system, helps with energy and maintains healthy blood pressure. Whey protein also contains leucine and CLA, both of which help you lose weight. Finally, the A2 protein in it can increase metabolism and boost weight loss. But not all whey protein powders are created equal. Some are A1 protein-based, heat treated, high in carbohydrates, and may contain chemicals, heavy metals, and artificial sweeteners.
Hallmarks of a high quality whey protein include:
UNI KEY’s Fat Flush Whey Protein meets all of these high standards and has been rated as the best quality whey protein on the market.