Why is dairy not allowed on a Paleo diet?

Why is dairy not allowed on a Paleo diet?

Dairy is a confusing topic within the Paleo diet and there’s a lot of debate still about it, so I hope this article will clear that up for you if you’re confused, or just skip down to the section listing the types of allowed dairy if that’s all you’re after.

Why Is Dairy Not Allowed On A Paleo Diet?

Let me start by stating that dairy is a highly nutritious (and delicious) food source, and humans have consumed animal milk for millennia. That doesn’t mean it’s good for you to eat though!

So how do you determine if dairy is right for you??

Like many people, the reason why you’re going Paleo is probably to lose weight or heal a health condition like digestive issues, autoimmune, inflammation, or controlling blood sugar, and unfortunately, eating dairy typically does not help you achieve any of those goals!

In particular, dairy has been closely linked to digestive and inflammatory issues for many people (e.g., sinus problems, joint pain, acne, IBS, bloating, gas).

So while dairy (especially in the full-fat, fermented, or raw forms) may be good for a very healthy individual, it’s generally not great for most people with existing health or weight loss issues.

What’s Wrong With Dairy Products?

There are 3 main reasons for avoiding dairy if you have health issues (please share the infographics below):

Why is dairy not allowed on a Paleo diet?

1. Lactose

As Jeremy has written before in this article, many people of Asian or African heritage (plus a lot of other people) are lactose-intolerant. This just means you’re missing an enzyme (lactase) to break down the lactose sugar. So the sugar continues down into your intestines where bacteria in your gut feed on it and cause digestive discomfort (e.g., gas, bloating, diarrhea).

Even if you don’t experience digestive discomfort (I did a lactose test and didn’t notice anything), it’s still best to eliminate dairy for 30-60 days and then reintroduce it to see how you feel. After I reintroduced dairy, I found that I definitely could not tolerate it!

According to Chris Kresser, it may be possible to cure lactose intolerance through probiotic treatment, but of course, lactose is not the only thing you need to worry about in dairy products.

Another issue with lactose is that it (along with other components of milk) tends to raise your blood sugar levels higher than you would think given that milk has a low glycemic index (GI), and this could be a problem for you if you have blood sugar issues.

2. Casein Protein

Casein is a type of protein found in dairy (different to whey protein that you might be familiar with). While casein allergies and intolerances are starting to be diagnosed, most people with mild intolerances typically don’t know!

And mild casein intolerances often show up in joint pain, digestive issues, and foggy brain. Given that casein intolerances are difficult to diagnose, even Mark Sisson who generally advocates for eating dairy products suggests doing a 30-day dairy elimination test.

3. Whey Protein

Whey is another type of protein found in dairy, and you’ve probably come across it in protein shakes. However, whey intolerances or allergies are very rare.

The main issue with whey protein that has been reported is the fact that it can raise your blood sugar higher than expected unless you take it with other foods, so if you have blood sugar issues, you might want to forgo the whey protein shake or else add some fats (like coconut milk) into the shake as well to help lower that blood sugar spike.

Cutting Out Dairy Cured My [Fill In The Blank]

When I first heard about the possibility that I was lactose or casein intolerant, I was highly incredulous! I had drank milk my entire life without ill effects so I must clearly be ok.

If this is your reaction, then please please still give the elimination test a try. All you have to do is forgo all dairy products for 30-60 days and then reintroduce them to see if you experience any negative symptoms. You might discover that dairy was causing you an issue you never even realized you had!

There are tons of anecdotal stories about how giving up dairy can cause huge beneficial changes in your health. The most common stories I’ve heard include sinus problems disappearing (this one seems to be pretty common), acne clearing away, no more digestive issues, and decreased arthritis and joint pain. Just read through the comments on these two pages (here and here) if you want proof of these stories.

It All Comes Down To Gut Health

Why is dairy not allowed on a Paleo diet?


As Chris Kresser explains in this article, “[i]f someone has compromised intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut”, it’s more likely that their immune system will respond to potentially allergenic components in milk.”

So if you have any digestive problems or if you’re allergic to gluten, then you’re probably not going to tolerate dairy products all that well!

Why Does The Primal Diet Allow Dairy Then?

Mark Sisson’s Primal diet permits dairy, and this is often considered the main difference between the Paleo and Primal diets (see this article about Primal vs Paleo). So, why would Mark allow dairy if it’s so problematic?

Personally, I think Mark is very fair in his treatment of dairy – as Mark says, dairy is very nutritious and very delicious, and we should only avoid it if we need to. Unfortunately, many of us don’t tolerate dairy well due to existing health conditions, and Mark recommends testing to see how well each of us tolerates dairy.

What Types of Dairy Are Allowed On A Paleo Diet?

So, if you do tolerate dairy ok and want to eat it, then the following forms of dairy are best if you can get it!

Please note that we generally recommend everyone stop eating all forms of dairy for 30-60 days initially. Then you can re-introduce dairy in the allowed forms listed below to see if you react to it at all.

dairy products allowed on a Paleo diet


Raw or Fermented Dairy – e.g., raw milk (if you’re worried about the safety of raw milk, read about this new study), raw cheeses, yoghurt, kefir, and ghee (which may be ok for you without eliminating it first, but there are suggestions that many ghee brands still contain a fair amount of casein and lactose in them).

Note that you should pick the full-fat dairy option for all the above products and make sure they don’t have added sugars (many yoghurts and kefirs have added sugars in them)!

Why Is Raw Dairy Better Than Pasteurized?

For many people, the thought of consuming raw dairy products is terrifying (my mum is one of those people), so why should you overcome that fear if you’re looking to consume dairy? What’s so great about raw milk??

Most milk you buy in the stores is pasteurized, and pasteurization destroys all the beneficial bacteria and enzymes that could help you digest the milk. Quite a few people (including Chris Kresser) have found that they can tolerate raw milk just fine whereas they can’t drink pasteurized milk.

However, finding raw dairy products can be tough as it’s still illegal in many countries as well as US states. California is one of the few states in the US where you can get it in stores! And if you live in New York, you can often find co-ops to get raw milk from places like Amish farms in Pennsylvania.

So, Should You Eat Dairy?

As with everything, this is your life and your choice. We highly recommend giving up dairy for 30-60 days first to see how you tolerate it, but dairy is a super nutritious food source, and if you tolerate it well, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue to eat it.

Just don’t fool yourself into thinking you tolerate dairy without doing the elimination test first!

Images: Copyright © Dmytro Sukharevskyy from Fotolia

Gluten Leads to Leaky Gut. Surprise, Surprise!

Gluten Leads to Leaky Gut

Occasionally, I cheat on my Paleo diet (shocking, huh?).

However, even when I cheat, I never eat gluten, and I’m probably the least-sensitive person I know.

Even though I don’t experience any acute symptoms from eating gluten, I still avoid it at all costs.

Gluten Leads to Leaky Gut

[Read more…]

Chronic Illness and Paleo: Eating Your Way Out of It

chronic illness and paleo

C.A. Newberry is fascinated by varied topics and believes in the power of continued learning. Her varied background includes event coordination followed closely by years of “whatever additional duties the job requires.” After retirement she had the desire to share her collected wisdom. When not at her computer, you can find her at the ballpark with her family. Connect with her on Twitter.

Chronic conditions are very high and are rising. Over nineteen million American adults are currently living with diabetes and over 580,000 deaths were attributed to cancer in 2013.

Altogether, over 130 million Americans are living with some type of a chronic condition.

Food Matters

For countless individuals, one simple answer lies with food.

Thousands of people are making the switch to Paleo every day, and chronic health conditions like autoimmune disorders, IBS, and diabetes are some of the biggest reasons.

And a significant number of people have reported experiencing an overall positive effect on their well-being and how they function every day.

The food you choose to eat affects both your health and your risk for disease, and if you’re currently dealing with some type of chronic disease, then your food choices can potentially help manage symptoms.
[Read more…]

4 Paleo Cooking Essentials

4 paleo cooking essentials image

I wasn’t into cooking at all before I started a Paleo diet. In fact, my knowledge of cooking was practically non-existent.

But that all changed when I got into a Paleo diet – in fact, I started to really enjoy cooking. And I started accumulating cookware and equipment.

These 4 pieces of cooking equipment have made my life and Paleo diet so much easier, and I hope you find them helpful too.
[Read more…]

How To Cure Heartburn For Good! (In 4 Steps)

HOW TO CURE heartburn for good

This post is mostly based on how I managed to cure heartburn, but I’ve also added in steps that other people have found to work as well. I’ve listed below 4 steps to curing heartburn – I hope it helps you like it helped me!

I Used To Have Chronic Heartburn

Heartburn is one of the worst conditions to have – for me, it happened daily. I would eat dinner, and then this burning sensation would arise in my stomach. If I burped, then acid would come up into my throat. Sometimes, it would be just a dull pain between my ribcage just below my heart. Maybe there are medical differences in my symptoms, but to me, it was just discomfort and pain.

And the worst part of it was that I thought I would have it for the rest of my life. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, so read on for the 4 steps on how to cure heartburn for good!

[Read more…]

Gluten-Free Cookbook Sale

Gluten Free books Sale

We think going gluten-free is just one step toward a healthy diet, but it is a big step in the right direction.

So, if you’re just going gluten-free right now, then check out this huge gluten-free cookbook sale that’s happening today.

Buck Books has organized a huge Gluten-Free Books Sale for today only – all the below books plus more are $0.99 (a few are slightly more expensive due to their size).

OUR BEST RECOMMENDATION:

Tammy Credicott is the author of a lot of gluten-free and Paleo cookbooks (with over 366 5-star reviews). This is a fantastic deal (for over 200 recipes)! Click here to get her book on Amazon. It’s $2.99 today (not $0.99 as previously reported because it’s a much longer book with a lot more recipes).

The Healthy Gluten-Free Life (200 Recipes)

gf book

Gluten-Free Recipes in 30 Minutes (137 Recipes)

2

The Savvy Gluten-Free Shopper

3

Keeping It Real (85 Recipes)

5

Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Recipes: 45 Delicious Meals made in 30 Minutes OR LESS!

6

Gluten Free, Real Food Recipes for Kids (70+ Recipes)

7

And to check out more books in the sale, sign up for Buck Books’s email list here.

High Protein or Low Carb? Which is Better for Sustaining Fat Loss?

High Protein or Low Carb? Which is Better for Sustaining Fat Loss?

Losing fat is hard enough.

The worst part is that most of us can’t keep it off. And that’s just mean.

If you work hard enough to lose the fat in the first place, shouldn’t there be a rule that it’s impossible to gain back???

Of course, that’s not how it works, and most folks gain back all (or often more than all) of the fat they lost. But some lucky few do manage to keep off the fat forever.

What’s the Difference?

There isn’t ONE single difference, but a recent study conducted in Europe (and involving a lot of people) points to one significant difference. Here’s the study:
[Read more…]

How to Eat Potatoes and Improve Your Insulin Senstivity

How to Eat Potatoes and Improve Your Insulin Senstivity

The study below has been out for a little under a decade, but I recently found it courtesy of Richard Nikoley’s blog:

Insulin-sensitizing effects of dietary resistant starch and effects on skeletal muscle and adipose tissue metabolism

The study is not ground-breaking, but it’s yet another sign that…

Certain Starchy Foods Have a Lot of Positive Health Benefits

This may seem obvious to you, but for a long time now, many folks (Paleo or otherwise) have placed starchy foods (like rice, potatoes, plantains, etc.) in the same category as sugary candy, sodas, and other problematic carbs like wheat. If studies like this one are right, then starchy foods like potatoes may be the proverbial baby that got thrown out with the bathwater.
[Read more…]

Ketogenic Diet Food List

ketogenic diet food list

The ketogenic diet is becoming more and more popular – reports suggest that many people have lost weight, regained their energy, improved their endurance, and improved various health markers with a ketogenic diet.

So, if you’re wondering what the ketogenic diet and whether you should give it a try, then check out this comprehensive guide to the ketogenic diet here.

And if you just want to know what you eat on the ketogenic diet, then feel free to just click here to get the ketogenic diet food list emailed to you directly. Or scroll down to check out the entire list.

ketogenic diet food list

[Read more…]

The Ultimate Guide To The Ketogenic Diet

The Ultimate Guide To The ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet is getting more and more popular, and it’s helped a lot of people lose weight, get healthier, and get more energy.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary right for you to try out, and even if you do decide to start a ketogenic diet, you will want to make sure you do it the right way to get the best results (you’ll want to do a Paleo ketogenic diet to ensure you get lots of nutrients and less toxins).

So, keep reading, because this article will discuss what is the ketogenic diet, whether a ketogenic diet will help you lose weight, how to do a ketogenic diet properly, whether it’s safe, and why it might not work for you.

What is a Keto or Ketogenic Diet?

A keto or ketogenic diet is a diet that causes your body to burn fat (in the form of ketones) rather than sugar (in the form of glucose/glycogen).  I’ll explain a little more in detail below, but you basically do this by eating a lot of fat and very little carbohydrates.

If you want to just get on with the ketogenic diet, then feel free to just click here to get the ketogenic diet food list emailed to you directly.

[Read more…]

List of Nightshades Foods and Why You Might Want To Avoid Them

list of nightshades and why you might want to avoid them

What Are Nightshades?

When I hear the word nightshade, my first thought is generally that it’s poisonous (since deadly nightshade, also known as atropa belladonna, is often mentioned as a poison in the mystery books I used to read as a child).

But, nightshades (also known as Solanaceae) encompasses a whole family of flowering plants that includes many very popular fruits and vegetables that you probably eat daily.

(There’s a whole section below on why you might want to avoid nightshades for health reasons as well so keep on reading!)  

And if you want the whole list of nightshades foods emailed to you, just click here.

Do you want me to email this list to you? If so, just click here.

The Most Common Nightshades

Some of the most popular nightshades are potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and chili peppers. But because various spices and spice mixes are made from chili peppers, nightshades can be found in a whole host of processed foods!

Here’s a more complete list of nightshades that you might be eating (some of them may be rare in the US):
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The Problem with Gluten-Free and “Paleo” Breads

The Problem with gluten free and paleo breads

It’s always very hard to answer questions of what you should or shouldn’t be doing, because it depends a lot on who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish.

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to try to recreate old non-Paleo foods.

But I know from much experience (myself and others), that it’s often an easy way to ease yourself into big dietary changes.
[Read more…]

How Going Gluten-Free Can Give You the Best Sex of Your Life

How Going Gluten-Free Can Give You the Best Sex of Your Life

103

Do you know what that number is?

103 is the number of times that the average American has sex every year.

You’re trying to figure out how you measure up, right?

It doesn’t matter, though.  Not really.  

We all want to have more sex, or at least better sex (when we’re being honest with ourselves).

Sex Starts with What You Eat

Forget all about Oysters and Wine.  Aphrodisiacs should be the least of your concern.  Food is much more important than that.
[Read more…]

Favorite Bloggers: Jimmy Moore

jimmy moore low carb blogger

The Blog

LivinLaVidaLowCarb.com

The Blogger

Jimmy Moore

Getting to Know Jimmy

At exactly 6 pm I entered the dining room where I immediately received a bear hug from Jimmy Moore – a friend, blogger, podcaster, and author.

I’d seen Jimmy just over a month before (at PaleoFX), but a bear hug was still very much in order!
[Read more…]

AIP Coffee – Review of Roasted Chicory Root Coffee

aip coffee substitute roasted chicory root

One of the questions I get asked the most about the autoimmune Paleo protocol (AIP) is what can I drink if I can’t have coffee?

Coffee has become so entrenched in our habits that we’ve become addicted not only to the daily dose of caffeine it offers us but also to that aromatic smell that wakes our senses every morning. So, what do you do if you’re starting AIP and have to forgo coffee for 30-60 days if not longer?

A reader emailed me about chicory root coffee a while back, but I didn’t see it for sale until a few weeks ago. So, I decided to give this naturally non-caffeinated AIP-compliant “coffee” substitute a try.

[Read more…]