A reader sent in this very good question:
“In your article "Gluten Free but Still Feeling Ill" you mention that you sometimes recommend avoiding dairy products to your patients but then say you tell them that organic butter is ok. Can you explain how a product derived from cow's milk is not a dairy product?”
I can definitely see where the confusion is coming from so let me clarify:
The problem with dairy products is the protein portion of them. The protein is pro-inflammatory and much like the protein portion of the grains wheat, rye and barley, it seems that the human body doesn’t respond well to it. Many researchers state that while we are designed to digest our own mother’s milk for the first few years of life, we were never designed to glean nutrition from the milk of another mammal such as the cow, goat or sheep. For that reason plus a few decades of clinical experience showing that to be the case, I recommend to my patients that they exclude dairy from their diet.
How is butter different? Butter is about 80-82% fat (higher fat butters are available if you look for them), 17% water and only about 1% milk solids (protein). For most patients I find that minimal amount of protein is insufficient to bother them. However those that prefer to avoid all milk protein enjoy clarified butter or ghee where virtually all water and protein are removed with only the fat remaining.
Organic is important because the fat is where the hormones and toxins might reside in a non-organic product. The organic version is free of such contaminants.
And why not simply cook with olive oil and coconut oil and be done with it?
Other than the fact that it’s enjoyable to cook with butter or ghee, butter contains an interesting saturated fat that is also an omega-6 fat called CLA. In the spirit of “never saying never”, CLA is actually a saturated, trans fat that’s very good for you. It has the unique status of being the sole trans fat that is considered to be healthy and there is quite a lot of information about it because it in fact tends to act like a “good” omega-3 fat in the body.
Here are some of its benefits according to research:
o In animal studies a relatively small amount of CLA was found to reduce tumors by over 50% in breast, colorectal, skin, stomach and lung cancers.
o It was found to reduce high blood pressure, lower the risk for heart disease as well as reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.
o It improved osteoporosis and insulin resistance associated with diabetes and obesity.
o It is an anti-inflammatory and stimulates the immune system to be more effective.
o Lastly, human studies show a benefit in lowering body fat, especially in those who combined taking CLA with exercise.
So there you have it. I hope this clears up any confusion.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”