The Paleo Diet And Dairy

More Happy Cows…..gotta love them! Image courtesy of

You’re probably right, I’m also pretty sure that one of us here at Paleo Diet News has published something about the relationship between the Paleo Diet and Dairy before……heck, it may even have been me…..but I’m too lazy to check, and I’m pretty confident that I’m not going to repeat myself too horribly anyway, so…….

If you’re new to the whole Paleo Template deal, one of the big questions in your mind could definitely be, “What’s so wrong with dairy?”. It’s a good question, and it deserves a little attention.

I’m going to refer back to a pretty ancient post by Chris Kresser, called “Dairy: food of the Gods or neolithic agent of disease?“, that he posted back in February of 2011. One of the great things about Chris is that he’s always so cutting edge with his information, that it tends to retain it’s validity for a long time….often indefinitely. In this case, over a year on and it’s still great information.

“One of the most contentious issues in the Paleo nutrition community is whether dairy products are health-promoting or disease-causing.

On one end of the spectrum you have Loren Cordain and his group, who claim that dairy is not fit for human consumption for two reasons: 1) because it’s a neolithic food and not part of our evolutionary heritage, and 2) because of proposed physiological mechanisms by which dairy causes harm when consumed. On the other end of the spectrum you’ve got folks like Kurt Harris, Stephan Guyenet, Chris Masterjohn and the Weston A. Price Foundation who have pointed out the many health benefits of dairy and are generally in favor of its consumption.”

“We can look to the Paleo era to determine what was evolutionarily normal for humans, but it doesn’t follow that anything that falls outside of that norm is automatically harmful. The argument that we shouldn’t eat dairy now because we didn’t eat it 2 million years ago – without supporting clinical evidence – is not convincing.”

Pay attention to the following point, because it’s a doozy:

evidence of what happens when people actually consume dairy products is a lot more convincing to me than proposed mechanisms of how dairy may effect humans.

In other words…..

“T. Colin Campbell is (in)famous for his research linking casein, a protein in dairy products, with cancer. He then made the huge and unsupportable leap to concluding that all animal proteins cause cancer and should be avoided. Most of you know the rest of that story.

However, what Campbell neglected to notice, or mention, is that whey, another protein found in dairy, has anti-cancer effects that completely cancel out the cancer-promoting effects of casein. Oops! This is why it’s so important to study whole foods, not just nutrients.

So let me finish this section by saying that I believe the weight of the evidence on dairy consumption suggests that it is not only not harmful, but quite beneficial.”

As far a bodybuilding goes, there aren’t many synthetic foods, or supplements that actually offer as many muscle building benefits as regular old milk does. It was an old school bodybuilding staple, and the GOMAD (Gallon Of Milk A Day) strategy is still often used today…..because it works. Forget all of those additive ridden Whey protein powders…..Just drink milk!

So why doesn’t Dairy agree with some people?

“What’s the deal? Why does it seem to benefit some, but cause problems for others? In my opinion the answer boils down to the health of the gut. If someone has compromised intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut”, it’s more likely that their immune system will respond to potentially allergenic components in milk such as alpha- and beta-casein, casomorphin and butyrophillin.”

[warning]CAUTION: Truth-Bombs ahead!!! This connection is actually further reaching than many people might immediately think. Mull it over for a minute, and consider the implications…[/warning]

“This is especially true for people who are gluten intolerant, because it has been shown that milk proteins commonly cross-react with gluten. Put another way, if you react to gluten, it’s more likely that you’ll also react to milk.

Along these same lines, people with small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – which is one of the major causes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – may be more likely to react to milk because the bacteria in their small intestine aggressively ferments lactose, the sugar in milk, causing gas, bloating and other G.I. symptoms.”

I’m one of those people who believe that gluten is behind every evil of the world, so this connection was no real surprise to me. However, statistics show that there may be more people who have gluten intolerance than ever imagined. The numbers indicate that 1 in 100 people may have gluten intolerance, but I believe it may be even more than that…..many times more in fact. Because of this connection, it’s no wonder that so many people have….or believe they have….an issue with dairy consumption. In reality, if their

gut was not already compromised by gluten, they might have no problem with dairy, at all.

“Not all milk is created equal

Something that irritates me is that raw and pasteurized dairy is often discussed as if it’s the same thing. It’s not. Raw dairy is a whole food, and pasteurized dairy is a processed food.

While it’s true that some people (described above) react to the proteins in milk, most who are sensitive are reacting to the sugar in milk: lactose. The enzyme lactase must be present to hydrolyze lactose into its constituent compounds, glucose and galactose. Somewhere between 1% – 95% of people don’t produce lactase on their own, depending on race and ethnicity.

In a sign of nature’s wisdom, raw milk contains lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose. Pasteurization, however, kills lactase. So if you don’t produce your own lactase, you’ll have a hard time digesting pasteurized milk. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tolerate raw milk. I can’t tolerate pasteurized dairy myself, but I don’t seem to have any problems with raw dairy.”

Dr. Ray Peat has stated that if a person has lactose intolerance, it’s simply because they haven’t been drinking enough milk to stimulate the body to consistently produce the lactase enzyme that is responsible for digesting lactose…, consistently drinking small amounts of milk over a long period of time, can push the body to gradually produce the appropriate amounts of the enzyme which should then eliminate the intolerance.

Estrogen In Milk

There has also been a lot of talk recently about the estrogen content in milk, because estrogen is a powerful cancer promoter. Estrogen is one of the reason why women are more prone to breast cancer than men are, as well as a few other cancers….which means that people don’t want to be ingesting too much of the bio-available kind if they can help it. So how much estrogen do we intake from milk?

“Estrogen is a potent cancer agent, and some studies show that a higher intake of milk products may be linked to ovarian and other cancers in women and possibly prostate cancer in men. That’s highly debatable among researchers, however, and definitive answers are not on the record. On the other hand, milk and dairy products supply 60 to 70 percent of the total estrogen intake in food. In recent years the amount of estrogens in milk have increased because of certain dairy-farming practices. Most milk now comes from cows far into the late stages of pregnancy, when estrogen concentration in the milk peaks. One study found that milk from a cow late in pregnancy contained 33 times more estrone sulfate than milk obtained from a nonpregnant cow.

The study analyzed the estrogen metabolite content in whole milk, skim and 2 percent fat milk and buttermilk. Buttermilk, whole milk and 2 percent fat milk contained significant levels of biologically active estrogen metabolites. Skim milk contained the least, buttermilk the most. Researchers also tested soy milk and found no estrogen metabolites. Not only was skim milk lowest in estrogen metabolites, but 98 percent of the estrogen it did contain was in the conjugated, or less active, form. Buttermilk contained the most highly active form of estrogen metabolites.

The authors note that while estrogen metabolites in these milk products are much fewer than what are found in estrogen-based drugs, we don’t yet know their long-term effect. The study also mentioned that milk contains progesterone, another type of hormone found in higher concentrations in women.”

consider that the average man produces 136,000 nanograms of estrogen each day, far more than you’d get from drinking several gallons of milk.” - Ironman Magazine

IGF-1 In Milk

Cows that are given a hormone called rBST that increases milk output, also have an increased amount of IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor - 1) in their milk.

“The concerns, based on published research:

  • The biotech hormone induces a marked and sustained increase in levels of insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1, in cow’s milk.
  • IGF-1 regulates cell growth, division and differentiation, particularly in infants. While human and normal bovine IGF-1 are identical, they are largely bound to protein and thus probably less biologically active than the unbound IGF-1 in treated milk.
  • IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization or digestion and is readily absorbed across the intestinal wall. In a 1990 FDA publication disclosing toxicity tests conducted by Monsanto, feeding the hormone (trade name Posilac) to mature rats for only two weeks resulted in statistically significant increases in body and liver weights and bone length. These effects were seen at a small fraction of injected doses given to control rats. But by gerrymandering these explicit data, the FDA alleged that IGF-1 “lacks oral toxicity.”
  • Neither the FDA nor Monsanto has investigated the effects of long-term feeding of IGF-1 and treated milk on growth, or on more sensitive sub-cellular effects in infant rats or infants of any other species.

Cows injected with the biotech hormone show heavy localization of IGF-1 in breast (udder) epithelial cells; this does not occur in untreated cows.

  • IGF-1 induces rapid division and multiplication of normal human breast epithelial cells in tissue cultures.
  • It is highly likely that IGF-1 promotes transformation of normal breast epithelium to breast cancer.
  • IGF-1 maintains the malignancy of human breast-cancer cells, including their invasiveness and ability to spread to distant organs.
  • The breast tissues of female fetuses and infants are sensitive to hormonal influences. Imprinting by IGF-1 may increase future breast-cancer risks and sensitivity of the breast to subsequent unrelated risks such as mammography and the carcinogenic and estrogen-like effects of pesticide residues in food, particularly in premenopausal women.” - Cancer Prevention Coalition

The jury is still out on the IGF-1, as far as what it really means to our health. Maybe it’s significant, and maybe it’s a senseless distraction, but the easiest way to play it safe is to only drink raw milk, or at the very least, milk that is rBST free. It’s out there, just look for it.

Personally, I drink about a quart of either whole milk, or 2% milk everyday….usually rBST free if I can conveniently find it, but sadly raw milk is illegal in my state. I’ve never had an issue with dairy, and I’m carrying more muscle than I ever have before, thanks to using milk as my post-workout-drink.

I’m not saying that everyone should immediately start integrating dairy into their Paleo diet Template, but if you don’t have any of the issues that Chris Kresser spoke of, and you’re interested in building some muscle, dairy might just be the powerful addition to your diet, that you need! Remember that raw is always preferable though!


If you found “The Paleo Diet And Dairy” useful, please click the ‘LIKE’ button below to share on Facebook. We also invite you to leave comments, and join the Paleo Diet News discussion!

Go to, and download my 30-Day UN-Challenge eBook now……It’s a step-by-step guide to your personal health revolution.

Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

For more information please visit:


Did you enjoy this?

If you liked this article, enter your email below and we will send you a brief and focused newsletter every Thursday morning. No fluff, no spam, no advertising. Just the best of the best recipes, articles, and news.

5 Responses to The Paleo Diet And Dairy

  1. Layne May 10, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I thought for years that I could not digest dairy products, but I stopped eating wheat (actually grains in general) and guess what - i can now digest dairy just fine!

    • Andi Rickard May 10, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Well fancy that, the exact same thing happened to me!

    • Lila Solnick May 10, 2012 at 11:43 am

      I think there is a pattern emerging here……lose wheat, eat dairy….. hmmmmm.

  2. charles grashow May 10, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Dairy Is Paleo (Goat Dairy that is…)
    Lactose Intolerance Symptoms Assessed by Meta-Analysis: A Grain of Truth That Leads to Exaggeration

    These results indicate that the severity of GI symptoms reported by lactose maldigesters were not different after they consumed an amount of lactose equivalent to a cup of milk (∼12 g lactose) or receiving a placebo under masked conditions. This included perceived severity of abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, degree of loose stools or diarrhea and flatulence. Even the frequency of bowel movements and diarrhea after a normal dietary lactose dose compared with placebo were not different. The only symptom perceived to be worse after lactose than placebo was frequency of flatus per day, and this symptom was not significantly worse when analysis was limited to high quality studies. The actual incidence of symptoms of abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, and flatulence were not different after an intake of lactose equivalent to a cup of milk compared with placebo. The data for incidence difference of loose stools or diarrhea were inconsistent.

  3. Paul R May 11, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Nice return to form Barry :-) …. so inevitably there’s a couple of things I’d like to take issue with, but they’re really not yours.
    Firstly: “Most milk now comes from cows far into the late stages of pregnancy” is simply not true (which paradoxically adds strength to the argument). Far into the late stages of pregnancy is the drying off period of a cow (they typically are not milked for 60 days before birth out of a 280 day pregnancy), so the majority of milk (90% of production) comes from before the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.
    Secondly: “Raw dairy is a whole food, and pasteurized dairy is a processed food.” Really, pasteurised milk is simply a warmed and cooled product. There’s a huge gulf of recognition that the processing of milk is primarily the homogenisation of milk. Pasteurisation of milk is really almost an essential public health issue (you are nearly 100 x more likely to get food poisoning / infection from non-pasteurised milk than you are from any other dairy product) where as homogenisation is altering the basic structure and makeup of milk simply for commercial gain. It confers no health benefit whatsoever and in fact is probably one of the main risk factors for dairy intolerance, rather than the relatively benign practise of pasteurisation.
    Liking the change :-)