Whether you’re an expert on the Paleo diet or you’re a newcomer to the diet plan, you may be aware that dairy is something of a sticking point for proponents of the Paleo diet. Some say it’s not Paleo, others say it can be in moderation - so what’s the answer? Let’s dig in to dairy and see whether or not it’s really Paleo!
For starters, putting the Paleo diet aside: is dairy even healthy? The answer is yes, in moderation. Most dairy products are rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus. Additionally, most dairy products like milk and cheese are packed with protein and fat that are essential for a balanced diet, while products like yogurt are filled with natural pro-biotics that are good for your gut health! A point of contention for health experts, however, are the saturated fats in dairy, which, if over-consumed on a regular basis, can be responsible for a myriad of problems including circulatory issues, heightened blood pressure, and increase in cholesterol levels. Reasonable consumption of saturated fats can limit these issues, however, and a moderate amount of saturated fat is considered to be part of a healthy, balanced diet. So with that in mind, it is safe to say that dairy is probably not going to do you any harm so long as you consume it in moderation.
But the real question: is it Paleo? It depends on who you ask. For the most part, the answer is a strong no, especially from more authoritative sources like the Paleo Foundation. This is because dairy products like milk were not thought to be consumed prior to pre-modern agricultural advancements. But the real problem most Paleo adherents have with dairy primarily has to do with lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar that is found in high concentrations in most dairy products and is frequently responsible for any dairy intolerances people may have towards it because it can be hard to digest. In fact, a majority of the population - up to sixty-five percent of everyone on Earth - is estimated to be lactose intolerant to some degree. Lactose aside what is probably most concerning about dairy products is the quality of life of the animals from which the products came from - most store-bought dairy products come from cattle that has been fed a diet of corn and soy - both of which are certainly not Paleo, and are
So with that in mind, if you eliminate lactose from the equation, is dairy acceptable? While there is some back-and-forth among experts as to whether or not the presence of lactose is what makes or breaks a Paleo-friendly dairy product, many Paleo adherents will consume clarified butter (also known as ghee) as a source of saturated fat due to it’s similarity to other non-dairy fat sources and extremely low lactose content compared to other products like milk or cheese.
In conclusion? Dairy is decidedly not Paleo. Products like milk and cheese are too heavy on lactose and byproducts from the typical diet of factory-farmed cattle to be considered Paleo, in addition to the fact that our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably did not stop to milk wild game. But just because dairy isn’t Paleo doesn’t mean you can’t consume or use healthier dairy options from time to time, such as yogurt, kefir, or ghee. As we’ve said before; we believe in balance here at Caveman, and if it doesn’t hurt, a little bit here and there isn’t a big deal if you aren’t a strict Paleo adherent.