Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why I Allow Butter On A Dairy-Free Diet

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 in moderation.  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 some patients I find that the minimal amount of protein is insufficient to bother them.  And, thosewho prefer to avoid all milk protein can 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.

Unfortunately, the majority of patients don't tolerate butter well either. Is it because of the small amounts of protein remaining, or due to the toxins and hormones found in the fat? Likely a bit of both. But for those who do and who only consume the organic variety, enjoy!

And why not simply cook with olive oil (medium heat only please), avocado, walnut or 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 (conjugated linoleic acid).  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.

While CLA does seem to have some nice benefits, it doesn't outweigh the negatives found in milk and dairy products in general. There are plenty of other areas in your diet where you can get those same benefits without the liabilities associated with dairy.

So there you have it. I hope this clears up any confusion.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.If your health is not to the level you'd like it to be, consider calling us for a free health analysis - call 408-733-0400. We are a destination clinic and treat patients from across the country and internationally. We are here to help!

Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! Call 408-733-0400.

I look forward to hearing from you.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”


heather said...

ahh! in praise of butter! thanks so much for this article. now i don't have to feel too guilty when enjoying it. :)

Anonymous said...

Helas, I cannot agree. It's like with being pregnant; You are 100% pregnant or you are not pregnant. The same goes for diet; You can only be 100% intolerant. Even a little bit of protein can harm you.

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Hello Hans,

I understand your sentiments. Certainly when it comes to gluten it's 100%. Remember that I also mentioned ghee and clarified butter as options, and they do fit the 100% category.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki

DusanV said...

Was wondering about this for a long time. Thxs for clearing things up.

One more question to this perhaps... how is it with lactose in butter?

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Dear DusanV,

Milk contains about 5% lactose and butter contain 0.1% - a very minute amount. It is considered to be too small too cause a problem for those who are lactose intolerant though I have no personal research to cite on this point.

Clarified butter or ghee, has all the milk solids removed and therefore it is felt that only minute amounts of lactose are present and unlikely to cause issue for most.

I hope this helps!

To your good health,
Dr Vikki

jean said...

Thanks so much for this blog, I just discovered it today.
I am gluten intolerant diagnosed through Enterolab, and I've eliminated grains zealously for the last three months, before that, well, socially I would munch on bread, or cakes. But now, I'm strict.
BUT, it looks like I might be dairy sensitive, too. (Still distended and with sinus and ear issues). And while I love butter, I also love cream in my tea or coffee. Is 'Organic Heavy Whipping Cream' from our local dairy, Clover, allowed? There are 0% carbs, so I wonder if there's no lactose, but what about the casein?
I hope you follow old threads as I'm new to the blog and the diagnosis.

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Hello Jean,
I invite you to visit my new website/blog at:

I am phasing out this blog and all new posts and you tube videos can be found at the above site.

Sorry, but no cream allowed. As a gluten intolerant individual I would remove ALL dairy products, including the milk of any mammal and see how your sinuses do.

If you see improvement then you can try reintroducing organic butter only and notice if anything negative occurs. To be safest, consider introducing ghee first (absolutely no protein is left in ghee).

If problems are still occurring give me a call and we can set up a consultation. You may have a hidden infection or be suffering from cross-reactive foods - nothing that's too difficult to fix!

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen