How I Reversed My Sensitivity to Dairy
As someone who’s struggled with the negative effects of restriction for years, I thought I could never eat dairy again. Thanks to a new discovery, I’ve finally been able to start incorporating it back into my diet!
Who wants to hear about the food life of little Liv? It’s honestly not too interesting, as my diet was not particularly what I would call *varied* 😂I was addicted to Froot Loops & milk, ate yogurt for snack, enjoyed ice creams after school, and literally ate mac ‘n cheese for dinner every single day. Moral of the story? I have never had problems with dairy.
Until an eating disorder creeped into my life. For years, I restricted myself of everything I deemed ‘unhealthy’—I avoided fat, carbs, sugar…hell, anything even slightly ‘high’ in calories. Just at 12 years old, I became obsessed with reading labels at the grocery store. I forced my parents into buying only the ‘light’ products for me, and I would yell and scream did they not prep my veggie burger in cooking spray instead of oil or butter. Little did I know I was completely ruining the insides of the body of a young and growing girl.
For years, I was in and out of treatment. I would gain weight quickly, just to lose it all again shortly thereafter. I was starving myself and overexerting my body’s exercise capacities, and then shocking it back into health with inpatient stays. In a nutshell, my body’s been through A LOT.
Looking back at everything I’ve endured, I understand now. I understand why I got constipated and then had diarrhea and would have insane gas and would vomit right after eating. I couldn’t ever explain any of it, and every doctor I went to said something else. I was diagnosed with dozens of different syndromes and intolerances, of which each never felt quite right. Some told me to cut out certain foods, others told me to incorporate more of another. I was confused. But so was my body.
Only recently did I sit down and ask myself what the hell I was doing. I was avoiding gluten and dairy, eating fully plant-based, and kept telling myself I was doing everything I needed to do to be ‘healthy’. Yet, I was sleeping horribly, was constantly anxious, and still had ALL of the physical symptoms I was having before.
It was time to remove any and all labels I had placed on myself and start listening to my body.
So I bought eggs and fish and chicken and yogurt and cheese and ate it all again. That’s when my sensitivity to dairy became very clear to me. I was feeling better overall, yet my symptoms became overly apparent whenever I had a bowl of yogurt or ate an ice cream. But I wasn’t going to settle for another label. I was going to figure out how to MAKE THIS WORK!
Raw Milk Company
I started doing research and discovered Raw Milk Company. This small Netherlands-based dairy company makes unpasteurized & organic dairy products of the highest quality. Their milk comes straight from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows, and is produced in a way that the milk retains all of its healthy properties from vitamins, enzymes, healthy bacteria, and an optimal omega 3 to 6 fat ratio thanks to the cow’s grass-fed diets. Below I will go a bit more into detail about what Raw Milk is exactly, as well as how it compares to 'regular’ milk you can buy at the store.
What is Raw Milk?
Regular milk from the supermarket is always pasteurized or sterilized (heated at high temperatures to kill bacteria) as well as homogenized (emulsification of fat particles found in milk) and standardized (so that the product always has the same nutritional value).
Raw milk does not undergo any of these processes, which preserves all the vitamins, enzymes, healthy bacteria naturally found in milk! Did you know that lactase, the enzyme needed to break down lactose, is naturally present in milk?
We all know healthy bacteria (think probiotics!) such as lactobacillus acidophilus are necessary for a healthy gut. Not only do these healthy bacteria aid in the digestion of food, they play an essential role in regulating the presence of harmful bacteria.
Raw Milk vs. Standard Milk
Raw milk is easier to digest than standard milk because it has not been stripped of the necessary enzymes and healthy bacteria naturally that are usually killed during the high-heat processes to obtain milk found at the grocery store. Proteins found in milk also take on a different structure when they undergo high temperatures, which also can result in onerous digestibility.
Unfortunately, raw milk is not allowed to be sold in regular grocery stores in the Netherlands. During the mid 1900s, the disease tuberculosis was present among cattle, making their milk dangerous for consumption. To kill any harmful bacteria, farmers were required by law to pasteurize and sterilize milk. Since then, the hygienic conditions of milk production have drastically improved. Milking is no longer done by hand and the milk is directly chilled, along with the fact that tuberculosis is no longer present among cattle. Alas, the law that was passed in 1950 has never been modified.
Fortunately, raw fermented dairy products such as Rauw Power are allowed to be sold in the supermarket! Its pH below 4.5 makes the dairy completely safe, even for babies, pregnant women, and elderly.
Where to Buy Raw Milk
Raw Milk Company currently sells milk, juice, yogurt, kefir, and hangop, a very thick yogurt made by straining yogurt or kefir. Currently, raw milk is only available for sale in the company’s own store, Melk & Honing. All of their other products are sold at organic stores all across the Netherlands under the name Rauw Power. Click here to find their products near you!
Now that I’ve explained what raw milk is and what the benefits are, let’s get to the actual tasting and testing! The first Rauw Power products I picked up was a bottle of their yogurt and their kefir. I was originally going to purchase all of their products at once, but ceased from doing so when I noticed the sell-by dates. Because raw milk is so fresh and doesn’t undergo any high-heat processes, it’s much more prone to go bad quickly. Thus, it’s better to consume the products shortly after purchasing!
Yogurt & Kefir
The bottle on the left is Rauw Power’s yogurt, and it’s made simply from whole raw milk and yogurt cultures. The bottle on the right is the kefir, made from whole raw milk and kefir cultures. Because neither of the products undergo heat, they’re a lot thinner than yogurt products I’m typically used to. I really didn’t mind this at all because the taste of both is simply amazing! I wondered why this was, a question that was easily answered on the Raw Milk Company website: many flavors and savors in milk are heat sensitive, meaning they are destroyed when milk is heated. Because Raw Milk Company doesn’t heat their milk, all of these delicious flavors are retained. Essentially, raw milk tastes like milk is supposed to taste!
Rauw Power’s yogurt has a fermentation time of about 18 hours, and the kefir 24 hours. The combination of whole milk and a long fermentation time results in products that are much higher levels of essential vitamins and minerals, as compared to low-fat or nonfat varieties. In fact, most of the nutrients found in milk are fat soluble, meaning you’re only going to experience the nutritional benefits if you’re eating the full fat varieties!
My digestive experience after trying both these products was almost too remarkable to be true. But it’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth: I experienced absolutely NO bloating, gas, or discomfort after consuming the yogurt and kefir. I was beyond excited to give their thick yogurt a try!
Yogurt & Kefir Hangop
Hangop is a type of yogurt that is made by straining either yogurt or kefir for several hours. Very similar to Greek yogurt or Skyr, the result is an extremely thick, quark-like product. Personally, I LOVE thick yogurt, so I was super excited to try Rauw Power’s version!
My thoughts? Wow. Just WOW. Rauw Power’s hangop is seriously the best yogurt I’ve ever had in my life. I prefer the kefir variety over the yogurt variety, perhaps because it’s a bit thicker and a tad more tangy! Again, I experienced no signs of dairy sensitivity after having these products. Woohoo!
I am so grateful to Rauw Power products for making my transition back to dairy a smooth one. Slowly, I have been introducing other dairy products as well, such as organic, grass-fed butter and cheese. I am still being very cautious around non-raw dairy, as it can affect me when I eat it in too large amounts. But it’s all about figuring out what works for me.
Thank you body, for teaching me everyday.