Like so many, you may have grown up thinking that dairy products are staples in a healthy diet. But unfortunately, not all dairy is created equal. On a lectin-free diet, there are dairy products that just shouldn’t be consumed, no matter what.
Of course, you could be filling your plate with vegetables and leafy greens, dousing them in olive oil, and avoiding legumes and nightshade vegetables. You might also be avoiding dietary lectins in every other possible way in an attempt to stay healthy or lose weight. But if you are consuming the wrong dairy products, you could set back your lectin-free diet in big ways.
Knowing what dairy products to consume on a lectin-free diet can be tricky. Follow Dr. Gundry’s food list and stick with high-fat lectin-free dairy options.
The Trouble With Some Types Of Dairy
Centuries ago, Northern European cows suffered a genetic mutation. It may sound a little bit like science fiction, but it’s not fiction at all. This mutation caused the milk of these Northern European cows to develop lectin-like proteins called casein A1 proteins.
When humans drink regular cow milk and ingest casein A1 proteins, they convert in the body and form another type of protein called beta-casomorphin. Okay, no big deal, right? Wrong.
You see, beta-casomorphin can instigate an immune response that attacks on your pancreas. These attacks can lead to pretty intense health issues.1 The more casein A1 cow milk, casein A1 cheese, and casein A1 ice cream you eat, the worse these feelings of sickness can get.
Can Lactose Intolerance Be Mistaken For Casein A1 Intolerance?
You’ve heard of lactose intolerance, right? Well, many of those who complain of discomfort and the uncomfortable symptoms that come with lactose intolerance, are often just reacting to casein A1. That’s the intolerance they suffer.
Does this mean you should never consume dairy? No. There are breeds of cows who never experienced the casein A1 genetic mutation. Where are they, exactly? Well, you can find several casein A2-producing breeds in Southern Europe. Casein A2 is an entirely different protein and it’s better for you.
So, when answering the question, “Should I eliminate dairy,” it’s not an all or nothing situation. You just need to educate yourself and study the best substitutions for casein A1 milk.
Avoiding Foods With Plant Lectins in Your Diet: What Are Dietary Lectins and What is Lectin Sensitivity?
Why does the fact that casein A1 mimics lectin foods matter? For starters, harmful types of lectins (like the ones in legumes, fruits, and vegetables) are the major way in which plants can defend themselves against predators (like hungry humans).
In theory, this is how it works: You’re a hungry human. You eat a lectin-rich plant food like bell pepper (nightshade vegetables like peppers are full of lectins). The bell pepper makes you sick and tanks your digestive system causing all sorts of discomfort. Will you think twice about eating bell pepper again? You bet you will. So lectins have accomplished their mission.2
Just how bad can lectin toxicity get? Well, take for instance one of the most potent toxins, ricin. Ricin is a plant-based lectin that comes from the castor bean plant. Ricin is so dangerous, it has actually seriously harmed certain animals — and even humans. In fact, ricin is so toxic it’s even classified as a schedule 1 toxic chemical under the chemical weapons convention regulations.3
Not all lectins are as toxic as ricin. Nevertheless, they can still compromise the human body. This can seem like contradictory information since you’ve been told your whole life that plant foods are good for you — and so many are. But lectins are the exception.
How Does Lectin Sensitivity Work?
How do lectins work exactly? They bind themselves to sugar molecules in your body. Lectins don’t care if they find these molecules are in your nervous system, circulatory system, your blood, or your digestive system. When lectins latch on to sugar molecules in your body, they cling on for dear life.
So if you ingest too many lectins or dangerous plant proteins, they can infiltrate the cells that line your gut. Your gut barrier helps keep harmful microbes from entering your gastrointestinal tract and your bloodstream. If lectins puncture the barrier and open the gates for other lectins and pathogens to enter your system it can feel an awful lot like food poisoning.4
But that’s not all. Lectins in your food are often linked to other digestive issues, too. Lectin poisoning can get pretty bad and can actually lead to some of the following symptoms:
- Severe abdominal discomfort5
Following a lectin-free diet can help you avoid such discomfort.
Gundry-approved Dairy Products: A-2 Cow’s Milk, Goat Cheese, French Butter, And More
You might be wondering which dairy products are actually safer for consumption. Again, you may think that various types of cheeses should be lectin-free because lectins are derived from plants and not dairy. But because casein A1 mimics lectin-like activity, any cheese you consume should absolutely come from casein A2 cows.
Check out this list of Gundry-approved dairy products and substitutions:
Casein A2 Milk – If you are looking for milk that contains similar nutritional benefits to regular milk but doesn’t cause the digestive havoc on your body casein A1 milk contains, try looking for casein A2 milk. Casein A2 milk will likely feel better in your body than casein A1 milk does. And recent research points to populations drinking casein A2 milk having fewer instances of —
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Increased intestinal transit time
- Increased inflammation markers
- Lower processing accuracy
Grass-fed Italian butter or Grass-fed Southern French butter – When it comes to farming and working in the kitchen, some might say the French and the Italians know better than their counterparts. French and Italian butter come from the right kind of cows — you will always get casein A2 protein. Again, Italian and Southern French cow’s milk only contains casein A2 milk because those cows weren’t affected by the casein A1 genetic mutation.
And buying French and Italian butter will not be a concession — the quality of the cream is just so… creamy. And the butter is ridiculously flavorful because it comes from lightly-soured cultured cream. So it’s not only nutty, but it has a slight tang to it as well. Chances are you won’t go back to regular butter again.
Ghee – Ghee is a kind of clarified butter you find in South Asia and the Middle East. Clarification means it has been melted so the components of the butter can be separated by how dense each component is.
When ghee simmers, the impurities can be skimmed off the top while holding onto the liquid fat. All the solid residue and protein that settles to the base of the butter gets tossed out. The flavor is so warming and buttery — it’s divine.
Goat’s Butter – Goat butter doesn’t exactly look like the other kinds of butter as it can be quite white in hue and even translucent. That’s partly because when goats consume beta-carotene, their bodies convert it into vitamin A which has no color. Cow’s butter doesn’t go through that conversion process. Goat butter has a bit of a tangy bite to it, so it’s a lot of fun to use in the kitchen.
The Following Dairy Products And Substitutions Are Delicious (And Dr. Gundry-approved)
- A2 Milk
- Goat butter
- Goat cheese
- Grass-fed French butter
- Grass-fed Italian butter
- Goat brie
- Sheep brie
- Sheep cheese
- High-fat French/Italian cheese
- Organic heavy cream
- Organic sour cream
- Organic cream cheese
- Lectin-free whey protein
- Buffalo mozzarella
Consuming Dairy While On A Lectin-free Diet: It’s Easier Than You Think
So, in addition to cutting out legumes, nightshade vegetables, lectins, and lectin-filled fruits and vegetables, it’s time to ditch regular cow’s milk too. Cutting out cow’s milk will only strengthen your lectin-free diet efforts.
With all of the different types of dairy and dairy substitutions available, you really won’t miss casein A1 milk. You’ll enjoy swapping the old for the new and your body will appreciate the avoidance of casein A1. You may even find the alternative milk and milk products to be more flavorful than what you’re used to.
And remember, high-fat dairy doesn’t have any casein in it, so you can still eat organic cream cheese and other high-fat cheeses like Italian brie. (So creamy.) So swap out cow’s milk and cow’s cheese today.