Are Milk and Dairy Healthy?

Is Dairy Healthy

Dairy is a tricky subject when it comes to health. While we all depend on it in some form for the first few years of life, the question of adult consumption of dairy is a tougher one to answer. “Foods” like grains and man made fats are more easily recognizable as having no place in healthy human consumption, but dairy can be confusing.

Dairy is composed of a mixture of protein, fats and carbohydrates and it does have a pretty good profile of available nutrients in its raw state. It also creates a big insulin response, especially for the amount of sugar (lactose) it contains. Dairy can vary greatly in its form and foods like full-fat raw dairy can hardly be compared to the watered down, highly processed and nutrient devoid skim milk of the supermarket shelves. There is also a substantial difference between ice cream and organic grass-fed butter (obviously!).

So what is a health conscious mom of growing kids to do? Some, like the highly recognized Weston A. Price Foundation, recommend regular consumption of organic, raw, grassfed dairy, especially in fermented form like yogurt and kefir. Those who follow a paleo or ancestral diet point out that dairy is a relatively new addition to the human diet and that our systems have not adjusted to handle it yet.

To help understand the quandary, let’s break it down by the different types of dairy:

Regular Pasteurized Dairy

By law, at least in most states, any dairy you buy from a store is pasteurized and homogenized, giving it a longer shelf life at the expense of valuable nutrients. The pasteurization process kills the live (beneficial) enzymes in milk and destructures the proteins. In doing so, it reduces the vitamin content dramatically and kills those “live and active” cultures that are supposed to be healthy for you. Also, while milk is consumed in America for it’s calcium content, it doesn’t contain much available calcium and the calcium it does have is put to shame by many vegetables, nuts and fish like salmon or sardines.

Dairy in its grocery store form is also a highly marketed food. As is often the case, extensive marketing can be a good warning sign to avoid consumption (see also: “healthy whole grains“). Dairy marketing is specifically targeted at kids, those wanting to lose weight, and those at risk for osteoporosis (p.s. calcium needs saturated fat to be absorbed, so a low-fat diet will put you at a higher risk for osteoporosis than not drinking milk).

Growing kids consume more milk than any other individual group, since it is recommended for their growth and given in schools instead of water. Unfortunately, it is given in low-fat or chocolate forms, which have actually been shown to increase rates of obesity more than full fat dairy. A Swedish study in 2006 that followed 230 families found that children on low-fat diet (including low-fat dairy) had a 17% higher rate of obesity, that these children consumed more sugar (to make up for the calories they weren’t getting from calorie-dense fat) and had higher insulin resistance.

Besides the fact that all kids, not just those under 2 years, need healthy fats and most milk given to them is reduced fat, milk is just not the best nutrient source for kids. Vegetables and certain fish offer much higher levels of calcium and are easier for the body to absorb. Even human breastmilk, thought to be a perfect source of nourishment for babies, contains less calcium than the same amount of brazil nuts or olives. Vegetables also create an alkaline environment in the body, which is conducive to calcium absorption and retention. (Milk, on the other hand, makes the body acidic).

As you probably have heard, conventional dairy can also contain moderate to high levels of recumbent growth hormone and antibiotics (fail again, FDA).

Foods like cheese and yogurt are also marketed as healthy snack options for growing kids. These products are also pasteurized, losing most of their nutrient profile, and yogurt often has so much added sugar that the benefits are negated by the insulin spike.

Raw, Organic, Pastured, Grass-fed, Full-fat Dairy

This type of dairy is a different type of animal altogether. It has been demonized by the FDA because of its possibility of live bacteria (What do you think probiotics are?). The FDA doesn’t have a shining record on actually keeping us safe from dangerous foods (i.e. MSG, processed grains, hydrogenated oils, etc.), so a negative endorsement by the FDA often leads to further investigation on my part.

Organic and raw dairy from grass-fed sources contains a lot more nutrients and live enzymes than pasteurized versions. The full-fat content also mitigates some of the insulin spike and makes the calcium more bio available. In its fermented form, this type of dairy can be a good source of probiotics and calcium. Fermentation also helps break down the lactose, making the overall sugar content considerably less.

Raw pastured dairy is in its most natural form and its structure hasn’t been altered by any kind of treatment process. As with most foods, if you are going to consume it, go for the most natural form. Dairy in forms like butter and ghee also contain almost no lactose and contain good levels of healthy fats. Especially from grass-fed sources, these types of dairy are excellent nutrient sources and most people can handle them no problem.

Lactose Intolerance

Research has shown that a percentage of people in practically every population worldwide are lactose intolerant (with the exception of certain groups that can trace their roots to herding populations thousands of years ago). The widespread of intolerance to dairy is an indicator that it consumption, or at least its over-consumption, can potentially be harmful. As with grains (it is estimated that 1 in every 133 people is an undiagnosed celiac) and peanuts (actually a legume) widespread problems with a food group often indicates that the body isn’t properly disposed to digest it, at least in large amounts. Conversely, when was the last time you heard of someone being allergic to meat or leafy vegetables?

The widespread dairy intolerance should at least warrant a closer look at its health implications. Science has proven that some or all of our ability to properly digest lactose and casein is lost after age 4- which is also the age that many cultures around the world stop breastfeeding. As I have found in nutritional consulting, and as allergists sometimes report, many people have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy and don’t know it because they are used to the feeling of compromised health that is causes for them.

An easy way to tell how your body responds to dairy is to remove it from your diet entirely for a month and then reintroduce and see how you feel. Many people report feeling better off dairy and some notice no difference.

Insulin Spike

Like I mentioned, dairy (especially low-fat milk) causes a disproportionate spike in blood sugar. (Biology 101: carbohydrates fuel  insulin spike, insulin spike eventually causes metabolic syndrome and diabetes). This rise in insulin is caused by the lactose and proteins (casein) in milk. It is substantially lower or non-existent in high fat dairy foods like cream, butter, and ghee. For most of us, already operating on a sugar roller-coaster, milk is just not the healthiest choice in beverage. Even for kids, water is always a superior choice, especially with a meal high in good fat, protein, and vegetables. We often drink milk for its calcium, fat and “weight loss” benefits, all which can be better accomplished with other foods or drinks.

What About the Calcium?

Though I mentioned this before, this is often the single most quoted reason for dairy consumption. While many other foods offer far superior sources of calcium, recent research has even shown that high levels of calcium (especially from non-bioavailable sources like dairy) can actually spur osteoporosis. Dairy (like soda, processed foods, grains and processed fats) makes the body acidic, actually reducing the amount of calcium available to the body. To neutralize the acidic environment created by these foods, the body can actually leech calcium from the bones, causing decreased calcium levels.

What about Vitamin D?

It is great that Vitamin D is finally getting some of the recognition it deserves for being so necessary to good health. The body absolutely needs Vitamin D from the sun or supplementation of vitamin D3 to function optimally. Unfortunately, like with calcium, the vitamin D in milk and dairy is often artificially added and not a very available source of vitamin D at all. It is also in such small amounts, that it will not substantially raise vitamin D levels in the body. I highly recommend getting blood levels of vitamin D tested and supplementing with sun or D3 to get to optimal levels, but dairy is certainly not the most effective option.

Dairy Alternatives?

The dairy alternative market has gotten huge in recent years, probably because of the rise in lactose intolerance. Some good alternatives do exist, but many of these options have their own list of problems.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is made from soaking and blending rice with water and a host of other ingredients. It causes an even bigger insulin spike than regular milk, as rice is a grain, and a high glycemic one at that! It is often one of the cheapest options, but it doesn’t contain much of any important nutrient, and it causes a big insulin spike. I don’t recommend it to my clients.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is made with soybeans, water and a host of other gums, starches and fillers. As with any other unfermented soy, it contains high levels of estrogen and is therefore unhealthy, especially for boys and women of childbearing age. I highly discourage use of soy milk.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is slightly better than the other two, though to avoid fillers and sugars, I suggest making it yourself, which is also a much cheaper option. If you opt for the store bought versions, go for unsweetened.

Coconut Milk

This is, in my opinion, the best alternative out there to milk. Though coconuts don’t actually have milk in them, but rather a high-electrolyte juice (called coconut water commercially) that is great for replenishing electrolytes after illness. Coconut milk is made from a blend of coconut fats and fibers in water. The healthy saturated fats and medium chain fatty acids are present in coconut milk (though in smaller amounts than coconut oil). It is a good choice for kids because it contains good amounts of fat, and with a vegetable and meat meal, will provide more calcium than regular milk.

Goat Milk

Goat milk is more similar to human breast milk, and therefore some theorize that it is a better alternative for human consumption. It does tend to create less of a reaction for some than cow’s milk, and there are cheeses available as well.

The Bottom Line

In the end, dairy is a subject of much debate in the health community. At our house, we consume moderate amounts of raw, aged cheeses and high-fat dairy like butter, raw, heavy cream, and ghee. We don’t drink milk or eat processed dairy foods. We also consume a lot of fish, leafy vegetables and nuts, so we get enough calcium and I supplement Vitamin D in appropriate amounts for the whole family.

Tolerance to dairy varies by person. Some have no trouble with it, and others react heavily. Some people find that they are unable to lose weight while consuming dairy. To find out how your body responds, eliminate it in all forms for a month, and see how you do.

Do you consume dairy? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. We drink loads and loads of raw cow’s milk in our house. My 5 year old son, who is allergic to milk, tolerates raw milk completely without issue. As soon as we switched to raw milk, I noticed that both of my kids had huge growth spurts! I know some people think that milk is relatively new in the human diet, but I’ve read that European peoples started using milk some 8,000-10,000 years ago, and that’s long enough for me! 🙂

    • We do raw dairy when we consume it, and I agree that it is completely different than pasteurized… it also does typically have less of a potential for problem than grains or an abundance of seed oils. I’ve met a lot of people who swear by it, and i can definitely see the benefits.

      • Raw milk as ingredient in cooked/baked food is fine. Raw milk “as is” has pathogens in addition to all those health benefits you mention, that will not be helpful when your child gets sick from it. You do readers a disservice by telling them pasteurization is for shelf life. Pasteurization is to reduce & or eliminate pathogens in raw milk such as Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella & E.coli including O157 strains. The additional “shelf life” provided by pasteurization is minimal and the need for it is due to the evolving environment and emerging pathogens. As a microbiologist, former dairy farmer and a Mom, I’m disappointed at your repeated omission of critical food safety facts and sad for all of the children that repeatedly get sick (& die) because of the disregard for all of the facts/information.

        • You will find those same pathogens in raw veggies and fruit. There are far more people getting sick from foods that you buy in the grocery store including fresh fruits and vegetables ,meat, fish, eggs, etc., but we still buy and eat those foods.The news is always announcing recalls due to large amounts of people becoming sickened by foodborne bacteria. Raw milk is as safe, or safer, than other foods as long as you do your research and find a farmer who uses very aseptic practices with the collection and very quick cool down of the milk in specialized tanks. I have one that grows his own non-GMO corn for use in the winter with fodder, and whose cows graze all day on green grass in the summer. It’s the best milk I’ve ever tasted, and makes awesome yogurt and kefir. My cholesterol is the best it’s ever been. So RAW milk is safe as long as you know your farmer and they are willing to show you the practices they use in collecting the milk and cooling it. We need to improve the handling of all food and not ban foods that have so many healing properties to the body. If we are going to stop eating/drinking all foods that have had bacteria in and sickened people in the past, we’d all still be drinking ONLY our mother’s milk.

          • Well said. Good work 🙂

    • you can find references that dairy began to be consumed about 10,000 years ago. that IS when agriculture began, as we know it today. however, there was a different type of “agriculture” earlier, where people sort of weeded or cared for certain plants and took out other plants without plowing the soil and destroying huge tracts of land and water. onto dairy, tho’. nomads followed herds, captured, milked and released. this was true for the mongolians and the finns. this was done with different herbivores. reindeer being one herd animal that tolerated this.

      i like to get people to wonder — who domesticated whom? did WE domesticate, for example, the turkey? or did it domesticate us? same question for the goat and the cow.

      • Hey i’ve been researching this myself.. Could you point me to some info regarding what u just stated in terms of agriculture and domestication? It does seem that slavery and domestication of all species goes hand in hand… Henry David Thoreau said it best in “Waldens Pond”

  2. This is very interesting to me, as I have been lactose intolerant for years (except when pregnant) and have opted for rice milk since it is said to be less ‘processed’ than soy milk. I have flirted with almond milk and like it better…expecially after reading this! always thought unpasteurized meant it could likely make you sick. My daughter will be two in June and we had planned to switch her to 1% milk, but then again I was raised on whole milk and did just fine. Perhaps whole and unpasteurized is the way to go.

    Thank you very much for sharing this. I really appreciate your blog.

  3. Do  you give your kids yogurt made from raw milk?

  4. Do  you give your kids yogurt made from raw milk?

  5. I’m a 47 year old African American woman.  At my annual exam today, my doctor asked me if I drink milk or eat cheese and yogurt.  When I responded that I eat some cheese, not much yogurt and primarily drink coconut milk, she told me I probably wasn’t getting enough calcium and should take a supplement.  She didn’t question my intake of dark, leafy greens or canned fish.  She also didn’t ask me if I supplement with vitamin D in any way.  I have learned to ignore some of her advice as I realize she is mainstream western medicine, but I’m unsure of what to do about the calcium supplement.  Your thoughts?

    • If you are eating a lot of meats, veggies, etc, you are probably fine on calcium, plus you don’t have the grains leeching calcium from your bones while you digest them. If you want to be sure you are getting enough, and improve skin and hair in the process, just start eating homemade bone broth a few times a week!

      • Thanks for the suggestion.  Love your blog.

  6. Where is the best place to find raw, unpasterized milk? We have recently been buying Horizen Organic Milk? And can you please give me some examples of what kind of cheeses I should buy. Cheese is my absolutely  favorite food. I don’t think I can give it up. I love reading your blog. Thank you!

    • Gina,

      To find raw unpasturized milk you’ll have to check out Until you do find a local souce I’d suggest NOT buying Horizon’s milk because their cows are feed a diet of grains and their milk is Ultra Pasturized. Check out to find name brands that have good quality milk. And avoid Ultra Pasturized completely.

  7. How bad would organic, pasteurized butter be? I can’t get unpasteurized butter where I live.

    • Are you able to get raw, unpasteurised milk? If so you can make your own butter. Just allow the cream to separate to the top, then scoop out the cream into a food processor. Mix on high for about 15 minutes until clumping and buttermilk is separating and voila! Butter! Type ‘how to make raw butter’ into youtube and there are some video tutorials. =)

    • I would suggest using organic butter freely, but if you can find pasture raised butter that would be better. Kerrygold is the brand I like to use, but there are others. Also, if you depend only on green leafy veggies for your calcium, it would be best to eat them with a traditional fat, such as butter or olive oil as that makes the fat soluble vitamins more available.

    • if you cannot find raw butter, or don’t like the taste so much, just make sure your butter is from pasture raised cows. like kerrygold brand. I like a local one in my area when I can get it. oh, and organic.

  8. That’s good to hear! There are some things that just don’t taste right with coconut oil, and butter is the only alternative I can think of since you can’t cook with olive oil except in certain low temperature circumstances. Thanks!

    • how about ghee? rather than butter, often I cook with ghee. it tolerates a higher heat point, too. you can make your own, from butter, even.

  9. I would like to learn more about how grains leach calcium from your bones? This is the opposite of what I’ve read about the health benefits of whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, etc.

    • Grains are high in phytic acid, which is harmful to the body and must be neutralized. The main part of phytic acid is the mineral phosphorus, which is tightly bound in a molecular structure. Since humans are one-stomached animals, we don’t have the proper digestive function to break down this molecule, so it passes through the digestive system. The “arms” of the Phytic acid molecule are tightly connected and can bind to other minerals as it passes through the body (calcium, magnesium, etc).

  10. Any thoughts on unsweetened hemp milk? That is my favorite alternative.

  11. So is it not a safe idea to give whole milk yo toddlers?

  12. To piggy-back on Alyssa’s comment, what do you give your babies after they turn 1, and doctors say to switch to whole milk? 

    • We just don’t do dairy at all… really no need. We occasionally use coconut milk in recipes or to drink, but I know that with their diet (lots of bone broth, sardines, fish, etc) they get plenty of calcium.

      • What are your thoughts about Whey? Keeping in mind there all types Whey, such as Whey concentrates which is said to be superior to Whey isolates. There are minimally heated or process Wheys and Whey with little or no sugar added. Also, Whey tends to be naturally very low in lactose.

  13. We don’t have easy access to raw dairy where we live (closest raw dairy farmer is about 2 hours away). I did, however, find a local dairy farm where the cows are grass fed and the milk is vat pasteurized (low temperature). If I were to buy butter or cream from them, is that a better alternative to store bought stuff? Also, they sell non-homogenized whole milk, what is your opinion on that?

    • Those would definitely be better options than the store bought stuff.

  14. This is all wonderful, but it does not do much for us if raw milk is prohibited for sale by law (I am from Canada). Reading this is only frustrating me, to be honest. I drink whole organic milk, organic cheese, and organic greek yogurt, and this is the best I can do. I wonder if they are healthy, and hope for the best. I asked the company that makes the milk if it comes from grass-fed animals and they said that the animals “graze in the field but not during the winter, although they do go outside for regular exercise”, whatever this is supposed to mean.
    I feel safe(ish) drinking organic milk&cheese. Are they still good if they are organic but not raw?
    It is so frustrating to know that the best option is illegal. And to hear about raw aged cheese, luxuries we cannot access, not by choice.

    • That is frustrating… I know there are grassroots efforts trying to get the laws changed on raw milk both in Canada and in parts of the US. Organic is definitely preferable to conventional though!

    • Regarding your earlier comment: “” Graze in the field but not during the winter, although they do go outside for regular exercise,” whatever this is supposed to mean.” I take it you are confused as to how this influences the dairy products you buy from the company. I’m assuming that the company is based in Canada, so the farms most likely feed grass hay in the winter with a grain supplement (this adds vitamins and fats that are lacking from the grass hay that the cow would normally get from fresh grass in the summer). If they are certified organic, this means organic hay and organic grain.

      The fact that the cows go outside for regular exercise is another awesome bonus. Being Canada I’m sure the winters are cold, so the cows are more than likely stabled inside at night when temperatures drop and let out during the day when it is warmer. Letting the cows outside, instead of tied up in a stall 24/7 during the winter increases the cleanliness of the cows, as they are able to find clean snow to lay in and the stalls can get properly cleaned out while the cows are outside. This decreases the chance of contamination in the dairy products. Also, happy cows produce more milk because they are less stressed; getting outside in the fresh air and allowing the cows to romp naturally decreases stress. I like this company and if I lived in Canada, would prefer to buy my dairy products from this company.

  15. Thanks, this is great to know. I went by our whole foods market and tried to get some coconut milk after looking at the recipes and a friend of mine recommended that I get the goat milk instead. What are your thoughts on goat milk? You didn’t really say much about it except that it is similar to breast milk and that contains less calcium.

    • For those who aren’t dairy sensitive, it can be a great option, just look for organic and grass fed… (raw is even better)

  16. HI Your website is helping me a lot ! Thanks for all the information !!

    Regarding milk, I found a place who sell non-pasteurized, non-homogenized, unprocessed, natural, probiotic milk. I have a question though, can i heat the milk in microwave before i drink ? or is that pasteurizing the milk ?

    Please let me know !

    Thanks in advance !!

    • Heating it in the microwave will change the structure! If you are comfortable with the source, I’d avoid the microwave and just drink as is…

      • Thank you !! 🙂

  17. Great post! I have been following your blog for a while now and your blog is a lot of help. However, where I live (Canada) selling raw milk is illegal. The best I can find is 100% grass fed (hay in the winter) non homogenized milk that has been pasteurize with an HTST (where the milk is heated to the required temp for 30 seconds then rapidly cooled). They also have a full fat plain yogurt made from that milk. My question is if it’s still safe or good to cosume those products? Like if I were to have about half a cup of that yogurt per day?

    • That is definitely a good alternative to regular milk!

    • Hello! Where do you buy your milk because I live in canada as well and I can’t find anyone around that even does low heat pasteurization! I live in Alberta. Maybe they ship? I found a place in Florida that will ship to canada but wow that seems like A long way to go.

  18. Do you know of any medical studies that link lactose intolerance to Diabetes?

  19. What are your thoughts on cottage cheese? 13grams of protein in the container I bought today.. Thanks!

  20. Wow, I really love how you write, it’s so clear and easy to understand, but at the same time, quite elaborate and justified! I really want to cut out dairy (because i simply can’t afford raw, full fat, unpasteurized milk on my tight student’s budget) but what are the other sources of calcium you talk about? Bone broth, dark leafy greens…?

    • Bone broth is great, so are bone-in sardines, meat cooked on the bone and leafy veggies…Most people need magnesium much more than calcium though…

      • How can you cook bone broth without the stove running for at least 24 hrs? Not a
        safe idea unless you have someone watch it while you are sleeping…Any suggestions?
        Is a 8-12 hr chicken bone broth as effective? Otherwise a waste of time and money.
        Thank you.. not comfortable leaving a stove on all night without supervison.

        • A croc pot is great for making bone broth. You can leave it on without supervision and the heat is easily controlled. Make sure that your croc pot has a lead free glaze on the insert, as long periods of heating can cause the lead to leech from the glaze and into the food.

  21. I have avoided raw dairy, due to the risk if listeria. I’m 16 weeks in my 2nd pregnancy, hopefully 1st child. I am high risk for preterm labor. What are the listeria risks?

  22. My husband is highly allergic to all forms of dairy, so we don’t consume it at all. What are your recommendations for calcium? We drink almond milk.
    Also, where do you get your information from? You don’t have any citations for the studies that you refer to. I agree with much of what you say, but I also like to check the validity of any information that I read.

  23. Thoughts on plain Greek yogurt? It’s so hard for me to give up my morning ritual with raw almonds, organic blueberries and a touch of raw honey in my Greek yogurt… logically it seems like a very healthy breakfast, but now I’m rethinking it 🙁

  24. do you know if coconut milk powder is healthy? and if so which brand? or is there ready made coconut milk that is healthy?

  25. Hi. I have recently made the decision to completely overhaul my lifestyle. I am not sure I am willing to completely give up milk, but I don’t really drink it that much anyway. However, I was reading your comment on rice milk and thought I would share another issue I recently discovered with all rice products. Recent studies have been finding arsenic, in sometimes alarming levels, in all rice product. While the U.S. has strict regulations on the level of arsenic in our drinking water there is little regulation on arsenic in our food. The link below contains an interesting article on the findings of these recent studies and how arsenic is finding its way into or food.

  26. I love this article!! You are so informative, and more importantly, accurate! 🙂 I can tell you that as far as insulin resistance goes, for many people it just has to do with the pasteurization of the milk. I worked for a chiropractor whose sister had to be rushed to the ER when she went off to college, and they told her she was insulin resistant. She laughed and told them she was raised on a dairy farm, so that was impossible. After seeing a homeopathic Doctor, she found out that as long as she was consuming raw, organic milk she was fine. I’m not saying this is the case for all people, but many people I know have found this to be the case with them as well.

  27. I am thinking about consuming raw cow and goat dairy but I have a chronic bacterial infection (for at least 9 years, maybe 20. I am very sick.) so I am worried about not being able to handle any bad bacteria in the dairy. The farms where I would be getting the dairy have never had a problem with dangerous bacteria but I am still worried about drinking and eating the dairy because my immune system is low. If I were to boil the milk and cream to kill any bad bacteria, would that make it as bad as pasteurized milk or is it okay to boil raw milk? Thank you.

    (I don’t eat/drink pasteurized dairy. I stopped a few months ago.)

    • Boiling, or cookng raw dairy products in any way, defeats the purpose buying/having RAW dairy. I believe it would actually cook the milk more than the pasteurization does, thus changing the molecular structure and nutritional elements.

      I’m no doctor, but I’d suggest healing your infection before having the raw milk, just in case your system can’t handle another possible infection. (By the way, I think these are quite rare, and hardly worth Katie mentioning. Perhaps there are no modern statistics or studies available because of the FDA/USDA and the modern BDSM on raw dairy.)

  28. You write that milk causes a disproportionate spike in blood sugar. This is untrue and misleading to readers. It causes a spike in insulin due mostly to the protein in the form of whey & casein, not a spike in blood sugar. Milk is actually quite low on the GI index

    • RGoose18, if you do your research properly, protein does NOT cause a spike in insulin. Sugar does that. Low fat or fat free milk has higher levels of lactose than full fat milk. I’m a type 1 diabetic. I need insulin when consuming anything with carbs/sugar. Not protein.

  29. The picture is missing. Wanted to Pin this post.

  30. Raw milk is very alkaline, its not acidic like pasteurized milk. I have no problems tolerating pasteurized milk. I stopped drinking it some years ago because I heard about how unhealthy it is, but I felt no difference. I didnt drink milk for about 2 years, but then I found a farm where I can get raw milk, and I have been drinking it for a year now. I feel a huge difference when I drink it. My skin is smoother, my heart burn is gone, the problems I have always had with my stomach has gotten about 80% better, and after workout my muscles recover way faster than before. I have tried tons of different foods and supplements, but nothing has given me as many benefits as raw milk. I drink about 1 liter a day.

    One thing is if someone is allergic to milk, but otherwise I dont always understand the attacks on milk, if its organic of course. Meat is said to be acidic too, but I feel fine eating meat. Meat, fish, eggs and so on is destroyed by heat too, their enzymes and bacteria is destroyed and so is the protein, but it does not seem like that is stopping people from heating and consuming it. Besides its hard for the body to absorb calcium from vegetables too, and they are also full of antinutrients.

  31. there article is correct but to say that dairy is acidic and then advocate to eat meat and fish which are even more acidic and unnatural for humans(except those in northern climate which have no other choice) is a little bit illogical

    we are plant eaters which our anatomy proves so neither dairy nor meat nor fish is healthy because they are highly acidic we need healthy fats which is olive oil avocado and coconut oil not butter lard and other unhealthy fats.

    okinawans live the longest and consume 80% plant food some fruits and 10% fish so weston price proves nothing and if you look at those who advocate saturated fats they are all chubby grey haired and look older than they are

    ketosis is not healthy at all it is like if your computer runs at standby and it occurs in hibernating animals we need glucose our entire body is designed to run on glucose we are frugivores so eating animal food is like running your diesel car on petroleum

  32. What do you know about freezing raw milk? Does it affect the nutrients?

  33. Conversely, when was the last time you heard of someone being allergic to meat or leafy vegetables?

    My best friend’s sensitive to beef (even grassfed); her sister reacts to all meat; I’ve known people allergic specifically to beef, chicken, cabbage, cilantro, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, coriander…and more. (I’m referring to at least 10 different people, by the way.)

    I react to pork, among a lot of other things. I was allergic to garlic and onion, for a few months. I still can’t have rice, almonds, coconuts, peanuts, carrots, stevia, tomatoes, zucchini, black beans, most cooking oils (including olive oil)…and that’s just the start of my list, due to the form of adrenal gland malfunction I have. (I only recently found a treatment I’m not allergic to.)

    I frankly have to make any broth or stock from scratch, because they all have something I’m allergic to, sensitive to, or shouldn’t have for other reasons. (For example, I have a genetic condition that means my endocrine system can’t really regulate itself, so I have to be careful with soy, unless I want hot flashes. I’m not yet 30.)

    I’m confirmed not-celiac, but my mother does have celiac disease, and 5 of the 6 people I’ve met with rice issues have a close relative with diagnosed gluten issues. I’m so sensitive to rice that even trace amounts will give me severe problems, so I’ve not tested types of rice thoroughly, but I’ve tried many of them.

    Personally, I use a lot of hormone-free whole milk or raw milk. I’d like to try goat’s milk sometime, but I haven’t yet. Otherwise, I’ll sometimes make my own “milk” from something I can have (hemp, walnut, pecan, hazelnut, pistachio), but that’s expensive, so I usually just go with the diary, since I handle (most of) it well.

    And then one of the few cooking oils I can have is clarified butter, so I make a lot of that.

  34. Katie- do you buy your milk, butter and cheese from the same source? Is it local for you or do you buy online? I’ve been following your blog and read your app daily, changing everything we can for our family and noticing that there is very little that I can get from a grocery store anymore. What do you actually still get from a grocery store that you don’t grow at home or buy from tropical traditions or wellness meats?

    • I try to buy locally whenever possible, online if the quality is better, or the traditional grocery store if that’s the only option or for last minute convenience.

  35. ‘Here’s another, less appealing way of thinking about almond milk: “a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds,” with some additives thrown in.’

  36. the dairy issue is a very interesting one. in our house we do everything we can to drink only raw milk, and sometimes raw kefir. our butter is always pasture raised. other dairy is more “regular.” one of the points you make is that we have not consumed dairy for very long. according to the paleo movement authors we have used agriculture for only 10,000 years and so have difficulty digesting grains and such. they do not seem to know that we have consumed dairy for 30,000 years. and dairy does not have the anti-nutrients that grains and legumes have. the thing with “lactose intolerance” is that, yes, humans stop producing lactase in their stomachs around the age of 4, but traditional cultures nurse their children until 6 or 7 years old. the reason our stomachs do not produce lactase after a certain age is that it stops being the only food consumed so the volume or percent of the stomach contents is far less. raw milk COMES with lactase in it. many who have trouble digesting pasteurized milk can more easily digest raw, or goat, or yoghurt…. the more difficult issue is a sensitivity or allergy to the milk protein. in which case you can consume pure cream, which is where the brain food and weight loss fats are, anyway. I live by the adage to consume milk only in its natural, or preindustrial form, just as with all of my fats.

  37. Question – do you do milk kefir at all? Or do you choose to do kombucha and water kefir only? Just curious as to that and why :). Thank you!!

  38. Thank you for this super informative post! I’ve been learning a lot from your podcasts lately. What do you think about flax milk?

  39. Where do you find raw dairy products (including milk, yogurt, and cheeses)? I live in Michigan where it’s illegal to sell raw dairy for human consumption… and I believe most dairy farms nearby feed their cows grains. What’s the best way to get raw dairy?

  40. Hello everyone,I am lactose-intolerant woman who lives in NJ where it is illegal to buy raw milk so I go to upstate NY or PA to buy raw goat’s or cow milk for my five kids.I used to make my own cheese and then add that to unpasteurized yogurt(not homemade) with flax oil and grind ed flax seeds and my children had a very strong immune system. I mainly use the milk for my baby who is two years old because he likes to drink it before falling asleep:) Thank you for this great article Katie

  41. Hi Katie,

    My daughter is 16 months old and just weaned from breast feeding as I am pregnant with our 2nd child. Her last doctor visit we were told that she should be consuming 20-24 ounces of full fat cow milk a day. My husband and I thought this seemed like a lot of cow milk… I was wondering what your thoughts were on this and what suggestions you had for milk after breast feeding is done? Would coconut milk suffice if we supplement some vitamin D3 drops? Should we provide calcium in any other way?


  42. A child died recently in Australia due to drinking raw milk. The raw milk contained bacteria that although the mother could handle, the wee 2 year old could not.
    There is a reason pastueurisation exists and it’s because raw milk products killed many a child all those years ago.

  43. Sorry Wellness Mama, but there is a big myth in this article that I feel inclined to debunk, but Chris Kresser does it better over here: He also debunks the acid alkaline food myth in a link within that link. Instead of asking whether a food is acidic or alkaline I like to ask whether it has the potential to be inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. There are quite a few components of food that will determine this. As for dairy, Chris showed that dairy is not an acidic food and does not leach calcium from bones, and the calcium is actually made more bio-available from the phosphorus also present in dairy. He shows that many different groups consuming dairy have better bone health. So, sorry but people do not need to worry about their bones when consuming dairy. I do advocate the right kind of dairy, and the homogenization and pasteurization of it may cause problems. Raw or at least organic/pasteurized, full-fat dairy is what you want. But you might want to edit this article after reading the link. I think having the best and most accurate information backed by the right kind of studies are important. A simple hypothesis or data that has been cherry picked can often be misleading or just plain wrong. The acid alkaline debate is often used in vegan communities and it has been used to vilify meat as well. It has been busted for meat and I want to ensure it is busted for dairy.

  44. I know this is an old post but I just want to make sure about consuming homemade yogurt made from a regular supermarket milk?I get the whole milk (3.5%)? We don’t have access to raw milk as it is banned here in Canada. What are your thoughts? Do you suggest I don’t consume yogurt or is it better than nothing? I also use the whey from it and make yogurt cheese as well. Thanks alot! Super love your blog!!!!!!

    • If you aren’t sensitive to dairy, regular yogurt is ok, but it will not have the same benefits as raw and organic.

  45. Hi, my daughter suffers from anaphylaxis and i have been giving her soy milk from supermarket. Please can you suggest some good alternatives i can give her instead of soya. Thank you.

      • do emphasize that homemade almond milk is significantly different than homemade. the homemade has simple ingredients, while the store bought has factory added, difficult to pronounce ingredients that are completely unnecessary and possibly harmful. it is very easy to make, and with a small amount of sugar, vanilla, etc can be made quite tasty.

  46. Per:

    Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

    Recently the lay press has claimed a hypothetical association among dairy product consumption, generation of dietary acid, and harm to human health. This theoretical association is based on the idea that the protein and phosphate in milk and dairy products make them acid-producing foods, which cause our bodies to become acidified, promoting diseases of modern civilization. Some authors have suggested that dairy products are not helpful and perhaps detrimental to bone health because higher osteoporotic fracture incidence is observed in countries with higher dairy product consumption. However, scientific evidence does not support any of these claims. Milk and dairy products neither produce acid upon metabolism nor cause metabolic acidosis, and systemic pH is not influenced by diet. Observations of higher dairy product intake in countries with prevalent osteoporosis do not hold when urban environments are compared, likely due to physical labor in rural locations. Milk and other dairy products continue to be a good source of dietary protein and other nutrients. Key teaching points: Measurement of an acidic pH urine does not reflect metabolic acidosis or an adverse health condition. The modern diet, and dairy product consumption, does not make the body acidic. Alkaline diets alter urine pH but do not change systemic pH. Net acid excretion is not an important influence of calcium metabolism. Milk is not acid producing. Dietary phosphate does not have a negative impact on calcium metabolism, which is contrary to the acid-ash hypothesis.

  47. I have not found anything on yogurt from Wellness Mama. I read about milk in this post but, what about yogurt? I have tried Fage, Greek yogurt and others. I have seen a brand called Noosa and I know they don’t use cows with the rbst(I think that is the correct abbreviation of the hormone). But there is something called bovine gelatin in their products.
    I read a post about gelatin on wellness mamma. Is the the kind used in foods different from the kinds in your blog? Any advice would be great because I love yogurt!

  48. Hi Wellnessmama, I really enjoy a lot of your articles, thanks! I only wondered if it is better to consume home cooked milk(bought raw) during pregnancy or does it become just as bad as store bought? Thanks in advance!

  49. My Grandson is 16 months old and has been consuming raw milk since the age of 7 months in his homemade Baby formula. He has thrived on it How much milk should he be drinking now? He still has 6/7 baby bottles of it a day mainly at night

  50. I have a unique advantage of owning a dairy farm, with my husband. We drink our milk straight from the bulk tank. It is a nutritious and cheap food to feed our 4 boys. I also make cottage cheese, amd occasionally yogurt. We are technically “conventional”, but in the southeast US, that is not what people think it is. Most SE dairy cows are fed large amounts of fresh grass, and silage, with just a bit of grain. Many are pasture based. Because of the many organic regulations, some of which are brain twisters, and our inability to buy organic soybean meal without trucking it half way across the country, we have chosen to stay conventional. It hurts that a product we work hard to produce, that is very healthy when it leaves our farm, is turned into a demonized product.

  51. We are not baby cows, hence we should not be drinking their milk. End of story.

    • In order to make dairy products other than milk and I also mean things such as cheese, yogurt or butter or cream things one has to start from a milk source and get it from an animal which is not a human – either a cow, sheep or goat one way or another its the same phenomenon. So we are consuming milk/dairy past breastfeeding stage and consuming another species milk which are two things that may not be correlated with our environment in nature – though hunting and eating meat might be to our nature as a protein source and one could say eggs if meat was not available

      Therefore whether dairy is something we should ever consume for that reason is a good thought although there are many things if not everything we should not consume for one reason or another – including bread (carbs) and fruit (lots of sugar in some). Dairy may be better than margarine which is known to be bad for you although some sources state that it depends on the butter or the margarine. Also soy is controversial and it tastes like they have already got sugar it even though it says unsweetened on it

      So I do say it is like anything else – although it is probably the last of animal products that is the best source of food for us to nourish ourselves on

  52. Hi Katie,
    loved the article. We don’t drink cow’s milk per se, but I use raw milk for milk kefir, which my kids love. I just read about the difference in the type of casein even in raw milk depending on the breed of cow.

    That sounds scary – even though raw milk is supposed to be great. the supplier I get milk from would have Friesian cows which are classed A1.
    What’s your view on this?

    Thank you!

  53. Raw goat milk has helped me drop weight. Use it like you would Slim-Fast (which BTW has lots of sugar). I replaced a meal or two with a cup or two of raw milk and the pounds came off. Probably because milk is a complete food, and when you eat food that’s lacking in nutrients your body is crying out for more.

  54. I grew up drinking milk and loving cheese and as a kid I was pretty healthy. We used to buy milk from farmer but if we wanted to drink it on it’s own, we’d cook it first (so technically home pasteurised it).
    I let my little one drink couple glasses of organic full fat milk a day, not homogenised but pasteurised as raw is hard to get in UK, unless you have a farmer who does it nearby. He started school and they gave him boxed low fat milk (longlife uht non organic milk) and he was feeling sick from it.
    I occasionally opt out for coconut, rice or nut milk for my coffee but otherwise don’t drink milk on its own. And everyone in the house loves cheese. So we buy bit of organic cheddar, occasionally goat cheese or sheep cheese.
    Basically everything in moderation is the motto of our household :-).