A Naturopaths view on dairy consumption

Naturopath-Cows milkWhy is it that so many people are instructed by Naturopaths to limit dairy consumption? The problem with cows milk is not the fat. And the lactose ( a milk sugar) is only part of the problem. The problem with cow’s milk has to do with the protein it contains- particularly the casein.

Our digestive and immune systems are not designed to deal with the amount of dairy products found in the standard western diet. Cow’s milk is designed for a baby cow’s digestive system, not a human’s. Think about it. Would you ever see an elephant drinking the milk of a giraffe in the wild? Of course not! 

Naturopaths are in a constant battle to limit congestion and inflammation for better health outcomes in practice.

Casein not only promotes congestion and mucous production, but most importantly it leads to inflammation. Issues such as congestion, mucous production and inflammation are of particular importance for people suffering from pre-existing inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, eczema, skin problems, pain, acne, endometriosis, hay-fever, diabetes, autoimmune conditions…. the list goes on and on! 

The good news is that other types of milk products such as sheep’s or goat’s cheese do not contain the casein and are much easier for us to digest. They have protein structures more similar to human breast milk, therefore we can break them down more easily. You can include these in your diet in small amounts. The best advice is the vary your milk products. Try using oat, rice, cashew, quinoa or almond milk as a substitute but always check for added sugar as they can be quite high in this. Alternate between these sources for optimal health.

(If already a client of mine please always consult with me before making any major dietary changes)

But what about my calcium?

This is the most common question Naturopaths get  asked when discussing reducing dairy intake with my patients. You can easily obtain calcium from other sources. Sheep and goat products contain calcium. Other good food sources are: dark green leafy vegetables (lightly cooked), almonds, almond butter, tahini, calcium-fortified rice milk, dried figs, tinned salmon with bones, sardines, lentils and beans.

Again, let’s look at this more deeply. The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis include America, England and Australia. It is also these three countries that have the highest rates of dairy consumption! So if we were going to solve osteoporosis by consuming more dairy products we would have done so already. Countries like Japan have a very low levels of dairy in their diet and much lower rates of osteoporosis. Calcium absorption from dairy products is not as good as once thought. Calcium intake is important and can be difficult for everyone to reach the recommended daily intake – let’s discuss this further in my next newsletter on calcium.

Yours in Better Health


Hayley Stockbridge (Naturopath)