Raw or not, Dairy Isn’t Healthy

Tuesday Sep 8 | BY |
| Comments (40)

I’ve noticed recently enat dairy products seem to be making a comeback in the Paleo community and in other alternative health circles.

Dairy is generally a no-no for those plant-based, paleo or raw diets.

But when a vegan decides to give up on the vegan diet and “experiment” with animal products — the first entry outside of the vegan world will be with dairy products.

Those vegans don’t want to consume mainstream, hormone-filled dairy products and they also avoid low-fat dairy products because they have been led to believe that full-fat dairy products are healthier.

So they purchase full-fat yogurt and full-fat raw milk.

Oh yes, raw milk!

Many organizations, such as the Western Prize Foundation,  loudly recommend raw dairy products and claim that the problems related to dairy products come from the fact that they are pasteurized.  They recommend raw and full fat dairy products. From the WPF:

Paleo followers often include full fat dairy products in their diet even though it’s clearly outside of the Paleo diet as originally prescribed by Loren Cordain, author of the very first book on the Paleo diet called, ‘The Paleo Diet’.

Cordain never endorsed dairy products and spoke against them. But many bloggers, such as Mark Sisson, include a modest amount of full-fat dairy products in their prescribed diets.

Ancient Humans and Dairy Products


Ancient humans did not consume dairy products until about ten thousand years ago, and even then dairy products were consumed by a minority of the human race. Humans who could digest milk had a survival advantage because they could access calories that were not accessible by other people.

Being able to consume dairy products was beneficial at a time when food was scarce.

Extra calories were useful, even if they came from saturated fats and were full of cholesterol.

Nowadays, we don’t have this problem. In addition to that, most of the world population doesn’t have the ability to properly digest dairy products.

Whether you consume them raw, organic or full fat, dairy products hurt your body. And they’re even worse for you when consumed raw and full-fat.

Fat in Dairy

Cheese is the biggest source of saturated fat in the American diet and dairy products contribute more total saturated fat than meat does.

Time-Saturated-fat-Butter-cover-smI know that a lot of what you’ve been reading on different blogs and maybe even in Time Magazine that saturated fats are now considered healthy.

The link between heart disease and saturated fat has been debunked by so-called health experts and that saturated fat is not a contributor to heart disease, as the latest science supposedly shows.

I totally disagree with this view and I’m not the only one who does.

Most researchers still associate the overconsumption of saturated fat with the development of heart disease.

What a lot of the new research shows is that adding more saturated fat to an already saturated-fat-heavy diet does not indeed change cholesterol levels much.

What’s really missing in this new research is that they’re not really comparing a truly healthy diet with a Standard American Diet. They’re comparing a SAD diet with diets that make pathetic attempts at lowering the saturated fat content.

They’re comparing the typical American diet with a slightly improved version. But it’s still too full of saturated fat to even make a difference.

Past a certain point, saturated fat consumption doesn’t seem to affect cholesterol levels much anymore.

You have to make more drastic changes to truly see a difference, such as cutting down saturated fats to an absolute minimum by eating a plant-based diet. And this is one of the best things that you can do for your heart.

Saturated fats themselves do not cause heart disease. They increase the production of LDL cholesterol in the body and this added extra LDL cholesterol contributes to heart disease by damaging and injuring the endothelial lining of the arteries. This sort of chronic inflammation of the arteries causes heart disease over time.

What is the amount we should be consuming? Many health organizations recommend 7 percent or less of total calories and if you want to be more aggressive — 5 percent or less.

That means on a 2000 calorie diet 11 to 16 grams of saturated fats should be to maximum in your diet, including what’s already in the plant-foods that you’re eating (such as nuts, seeds, etc.).

You will see when I present you the numbers how adding any amount of full-fat dairy products will totally blow these numbers.

Why? Because dairy products are still the biggest source of saturated fat in the diet and it is a big mistake of vegetarians to keep them in their diet and ex-vegans to rely on them for so-called missing nutrients in the vegan diet.

  • Greek yogurt contains 6 grams of saturated fats per cup
  • Sour cream contains 26 grams of saturated fat per cup.
  • Butter contains 7 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.
  • Feta cheese contains 22 grams of saturated fat per cup.

Of course you might be eating different amounts but they do add up in the course of a day.


Full-fat dairy products (as well as low-fat dairy products) are associated with a number of cancers, especially cancers of the reproductive system, such as prostate and breast cancer.

A lot of newer research shows that it is the protein in milk — casein — that is mostly to blame. This protein increases a hormone in the body called Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF-1). Higher levels of IGF-1 in the body are associated with increased cancer because they feed cancer growth. I suspect also that the fat content of dairy products doesn’t help.


Dairy products are linked to diabetes even though they do contain sugar but it’s mostly the fat content of the dairy products that is to blame.

Digestive problems

Too many people have difficulties digesting dairy products even though they might not be truly intolerant to the lactose in dairy products but it is very inflammatory foods that can injure the gut lining. Most people know this instinctively just by seeing how they react to too many dairy products in the diet.

Although there’s not too much evidence to back it up many people know that dairy products do cause skin problems, such as acne to worsen.

Is Organic Dairy Okay?

Also let’s keep in mind that even when you buy organic dairy products they still contain contaminants and residues that do you do not want in your body.

Although buying organic dairy products certainly is better than buying commercially-raised dairy products, it is still a food that is at the top of the food chain. It is a food thathas concentrated a lot of the contaminants that are present in the in animal’s environment.

It never made much sense to consume the milk of another species of animal, except out of purely survival reasons.

This is it in fact why dairy products were consumed as an extra source of concentrated calories in a diet at a time when famine and malnutrition were very common.

Nowadays, we have access to a tremendous variety of foods. We are not worried about calcium in our diet, even as vegans, because we can buy a tremendous variety of greens that contain plenty of calcium that is more absorbable than the calcium in milk.

We have access to a variety of protein sources and we don’t need concentrated calories in the fat of dairy products because we already get plenty of calories in our diet.

Dairy products are a fattening food because that’s what they’re supposed to be in nature.

The milk of an animal is designed to take that animal from its birth weight to its normal weight.

For the human being — that time frame is much longer than that of a cow. That is why human milk has a completely different ratio of nutrients than cow’s milk.


Human milk is much lower in protein and much higher in carbohydrates than cow’s milk.

Cow’s milk is designed to take the baby calf into a fully mature cow in a very short period of time. That is why it is packed with calcium, sodium, and protein.

It contains too much of all of those things that we don’t want in such a concentration in our diet. It doesn’t matter if your dairy is organic, or raw.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Anna says:

    What about home made kefir from kefir grains?
    I heard it is great to get healthy bacterias in bowels, and now I am confused if it is a good thing or rather not…

    • Aletta says:

      Hi, I think small amounts of home made kefir definitely do more good than harm, unless you have a dairy allergy of course! It is almost the only cow milk dairy that I eat, I add a few spoonfulls to my morning muesli. When I started making kefir a few years ago, at first I was adding about 2 dl of kefir to my muesli I estimate, but I noticed soon that that was too much for my system. Fermented foods are traditionally almost always consumed regularly, but in small quantities like condiments, I think they work the best that way.

  2. Beverly says:

    Helpful and insightful article.

    Thank you.

  3. Barbara says:

    I have to totally disagree with you, raw milk is not good for you. My husband and i both drink raw organic non gmo raw milk and make raw kefir. We have never felt better. Skin is clear, hormones are balances, digestive system and building more muscle. I’m not saying it agrees with everyone but for us thumbs up!

  4. Katy says:

    Frederic. Western Prize Foundation? Is that supposed to be tongue-in-cheek? Being a raw-milk fan AND a Renegade Health fan, I am very interested in your perspective (though we actually consume very little milk, and only very moderate amounts of dairy in total). You do not seem to be very serious about the topic, when you’re not familiar enough with this organization to get the name right. Ouch. It puts your other statements on the subject of raw dairy in a very skeptical light (such as the risk of deadly bacteria). For a better perspective on raw dairy bacteria risk, try reading David Gumpert.

  5. It looks like your autocorrect kicked in and changed Weston A. Price Foundation to Weston A. Prize Foundation. Time to do an edit! 🙂

    • haylectron says:

      And the guy who took Weston A. Price as a “solid reference” and also mentions the bible in the same comment just tickles me. The bible doesn’t even recognize people being on the planet for 10,000 yrs mate, let alone that they weren’t drinking milk the 190,000 yrs of our earthly existence before then. I died!!

      Also, Freddy isn’t saying cholesterol or sat fats are bad.. only in the vast quantities found in dairy they are for human consumption, is what he’s getting at. What could have strengthened his case is that the sat fats found in plant foods lower LDL cholesterol vs. those found in animal products which increase “bad” LDL cholesterol.

      Another great source for anything to do with fats is “Fats that Heal and Fats that Kill – Udo Erasmus” .. a really well researched and detailed eye-opener for anyone looking to learn more on the topic of fats.

      What I don’t see is his mention of dangerous bacteria in raw milk (was it removed?), nor why raw milk is “even worse” + sourced. I’d be interested in learning more about that than opinions. 😉

  6. Lisa says:

    First, I can never really understand WHY people always quote what humans were doing 10,000 years ago? Seriously….do we REALLY know what they were eating or drinking?? As for saturated fats and increased cholesterol, I highly recommend getting your hands on “The Cholesterol Myth” by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD. I would really love to see your research on this subject…saturated fats being bad for us? I really disagree with your “raw milk” being even more dangerous because of deadly bacteria. I was raised on a farm…grew up on raw milk as did my entire school mates. We didn’t die from raw milk….in fact, we were super healthy, thriving children. Didn’t appreciate tis at all….and didn’t appreciate the major typo…..Westin PRIZE???

    • Ed says:

      Lisa, the fact that you grew healthy on a farm stems from many factors besides drinking milk, breathing fresh air and sun exposure contribute enormously to a good healthy life, you’d have been just as happy or more if you drank fruit juices such as apple, carrots, watermelon, etc. I’ll believe what you say if you give me a single example of another specy on our planet who a/drinks milk of another specy, b/drinks milk as adult.

    • GRH says:

      I agree with Lisa on this point. 10,000 years ago. Really how can anyone actually KNOW what was happening then. It is all speculation full of perhaps, must have, possible and may have been’s. Bottom line – WE DON’T KNOW it’s all rubbish designed to sell you ‘energy’ bars and books on how to peel a banana; better still by my ready peeled one.

      We cannot know what is what even now about food. All these studies come and go like the waves on the shore, each one wiping out the previous and leaving a different trace on the sand ad-nausea.

      If we can be sure of one thing it’s this; food adulteration has been going on for centuries if you can believe the history books and the main progenitor of this is MONEY and greed. Supermarkets and food manufactures are not our friends, whatever their ‘image’ is – they want profit and sell us rubbish, albeit ‘tasty’ rubbish designed to fool us and empty our pockets and addle our brains

      I look at this world and shake my head. There is so much space, so much food, so much water yet we have so many hungry, so many homeless and so many thirsty and here we are worrying about if dairy is ‘good’ for us.

      The saddest thing of all is that I know this is just going to continue and get worse; want proof? How many programs have you watched about the situation in the world that are interrupted by adverts asking if you want your eye lashes longer or more curly; get more from your phone, drive a bigger, better, faster car.

      We are pathetic.

  7. Brenda says:

    Raw goats milk is the nearest thing to human breast milk and is very healthy.

  8. Liz says:

    While I do not buy commercial dairy products, I have access to raw goat milk, which is closer to human milk, and I have been making and consuming kefir and related kefir products that I make myself for several years. I enjoy the health benefits from the probiotics and enzymes. Maybe the distinction should be made regarding the type of milk used as there is even a breed of cattle that has the milk proteins closer to human. (Not the usual dairy animal that we have grown used to.) Everyone just needs to do their own research and do what is best for their body type.

  9. Dawn says:

    You spout the same rhetoric that the standard medical system (as well as commercial dairy industry) does regarding raw dairy. I am stunned about this post. Dangerous bacteria in raw milk-seriously? I have been drinking/ using raw dairy for years. I am blessed to not have digestive issues and my skin is clear. I am 50 years old and in good health.
    The bible references milk for human consumption many times. It is not a forbidden food. Raw milk has been consumed for a long time-lots longer than fake meat for sure!
    There are numerous studies to speak to the fact that the junk sold in the grocery stores is horribly bad for anyone’s digestive system. Weston A Price is a very solid reference and I am very familiar with them. Sorry you don’t think so.
    We are all entitled to our opinions and to make our own choices. I will be continuing to enjoy my raw dairy products and I hope those who read this disappointing article will do their own research too.

  10. marx says:

    Ancient cultures?? Hmm…weston price studied cultures that thrived on grassfed animals and fat. He never encountered any vegan/vegetarian cultures. Your reporting is obviously biased towards your vegan beliefs… I think we need to stop waving our subjective flags and focus more on the truth!!

  11. yedda says:

    Many people healed by consuming raw dairy, especially raw, pasture fed milk. I am surprised with this article, because there’s a common sense that if God created for us, that should be for a reason! Unless you spoil it, it must be good for you. Dairy has its purpose; as anything else, even vegetables, too much of a thing imbalance the system and cause problems. Everything that are created for human is good for us as long as you consume it in the right dose, right preparations and the right combinations which never spoil your metabolism at this way but if wrong eating habits spoiled your metabolism already, then you have to omit some until you fix it. I hope you can see this human reality as healthy people!

  12. robert G says:

    How would you rate raw goat milk, from small, quality herds with milk brought (fresh & refrigerated) to market by the “goat herder” ?

    I understand that the goat milk molecule is much smaller and more digestible than cow milk molecule.

  13. Mike says:

    Always good information, and of course too much of anything can be bad for our health. I have been drinking raw milk for years with no downside, but I am only drinking 8 oz. a day at most, but I wouldn’t touch processed commercial milk knowing it is not even close to being milk as I know it.


  14. suzanne says:

    Geez, its just a typo. I appreciate Frederic’s opinion. We are all different in our opinions, likes/dislikes, bodies, nutritional needs, etc. I don’t agree with everything stated either, but I don’t think I would go so far to say it was disappointing to read. We must be open to others’ opinions. We should know that Frederic is intelligent and thoughtful in his research and beliefs.

  15. Doreen says:

    What is your opinion on goat’s milk and products?

  16. Tom T. says:

    Remember that, unlike a baby cow, my diet also includes a wide array of fresh green veggies, root crops, a modest amount of fruit, lots of avocados, and even some pasture raised meat and wild caught salmon.

    After eating only a pound or two of raw milk cheese per month, I recently started buying a gallon of locally, pasture raised raw milk (type A2 I believe, as the cows are Jersey), and culturing it with viili. It seems to digest easily, and I’m not surprised as (1) I come from the northern european gene pool (2) I was raised on standard dairy by two standard dairy consuming parents (3) my holistic & integrative medicine doctor said the blood test showed no problem with dairy. In fact my father drank standard dairy until he died of “old age” at 96.

    Kevin is quite clear in his new book that one diet does not fit all. For me, a modest amount of raw cultured dairy seems to work well.

  17. jane says:

    When people say we don’t know what people were eating thousands of years ago they are not aware of the latest findings in digs showing grain was a huge part of the diet.

    But we have a historical source close to hand in the Bible. The reference to supplies of grain put aside in storage to get Egypt through the seven years of predicted famine and the telling story of the return of the prodigal son, when the delighted father sent off to have the fatted calf slaughtered.

    Has no-one ever wondered what the family had intended to eat if the son had not returned that evening? What was the usual normal regular meal? That calf was not the intended dinner that night. That story makes it plain that meat was a festival food, something eaten during celebrations, not something for everyday fare, and the normal meal would have been grain based. And this was a wealthy family, a poor family would not even have had a fatted calf in waiting.

    Meat eaten only for holidays and festivals would not have harmed anyone, the body having plenty of time to get over the harm done on that one day. But we in the West in this era are putting away meat morning noon and night and the excess is killing us. Instead of a meat feast three times a year we are gorging meat three times a day.

  18. John says:

    This is closer to USDA guidelines than renegade health advice. The common denominator is fat phobia.

  19. saturated fat is not a threat to ones health unless they are missing some important enzymes that help digest a lot of other nutrients as well .

  20. Rob says:

    obviously never really thought out your position
    But hey ur sounds good

    I’d suggest you do tons of research on kefir grains and the fermented milk with their beneficial and gut populating micro flora
    And least speak to those who have seen transformations in health for the good

  21. Yeah, I also find this to be really lacking in totality of information and kind of weak on the side that it stands. I can’t seem to get a straight answer from most folks on this and on water filters… It’s all up for your own opinion at the moment. Not good reporting in my opinion.

  22. Rocio says:

    The bottom line is, dairy – whether it be cow, sheep, goat, etc – is meant to be consumed by the baby animals it was meant for, not humans. Humans are the only mammal on earth that continue to drink milk after weaning. While some people may feel perfectly fine drinking “raw” milk, it still is not necessary for optimal health. On top of that, the dairy industry is a very cruel industry and most babies are taken from their mothers much too young, so that we can enjoy their milk instead of their babies. Many cows suffer from painful mastitis that often goes untreated and I don’t even want to think what is passed onto the milk.
    But, as usual, humans like to abuse and use without regard to the impact their choices make. We are really an ignorant and selfish species.

  23. David says:

    I can see by the comments that not everyone has a problem with dairy.. As for my self It seems as though their are times when cheese and even raw goats milk have left me feeling ill and I need to avoid them, but this isn’t always the case. Occasionally I will buy Kefir or eat some cheese and it feels beneficial, but not when I use them on a regular basis.

  24. Sarah K says:

    Thanks Frederic – a nicely balanced article as usual! I would ask though that you might consider doing an article on the differences between raw fat and heated fat? The reason being is that as far as my own research goes, the damaging fats are the ones that are heated, including saturated fat. Raw saturated fat from plant sources are good for you. My own thoughts on raw animal fat (i.e. unheated, unprocessed) are that it is not that bad and they don’t contribute to heart disease. Maybe you can dig up something that would change my thoughts on that?! I’m open minded with no ego so all information is welcome!

    It goes without saying though that hydrogenated fats/highly refined fats are a complete no-no.


  25. rachael` says:

    I disagree with the way you have wrote this, I cannot stomach regular cows milk, it disagrees with me. If you eat a diet of already fatty foods day in day out then yes you have a point, but that point is the only the same as if you already have a fatty diet that includes dairy and you start to introduce nut butters and things like coconut oil as well. Fat, saturated in particular gets a bad rap.
    I eat a high fat high protein diet with lots of veg and I eat carbs in the evening…. (totally non conventional I know…) I drink raw cows milk – I digest it better than any dairy, I eat full fat greek yoghurt and on occasion I eat cheese. I switch between organic cows or goats butter…. My cholestoral is fine, my weight is fine, my visceral fat is fine, my skin is clearer, my hair and nails are better than ever and I have more energy.

    I get the point you are trying to make in this article but it comes across as bolshy. there are positives and negatives to everything after all…

  26. Ilse says:

    Hi, I use raw diary from the farmer next door (healthy cows) for my 9 year old daughter. She is so little (1m23 – 21 kg) that I think this could help her to grow faster… She also eats meat but not a lot because I’m vegan. What do you think? thanks! (send your answer to : ilsemaes@hotmail.com please)

  27. Muse says:

    Oh yes. You have picked the scab of people’s sweetheart love affair with dairy. May you be blessed and protected from any harmful words. May those who hear this article expand their knowledge of this subject. May your words plant seeds that flourish and spread. May all animals receive our love. May the concept of less dairy infiltrate the masses. May all species enjoy what is theirs without karmic consequences. May humans realize their part in harmony and balance through our consumption. May we take only what we need and give freely. Thank you for writing this and more power to you ~??~

  28. Brent says:

    Frederic, I think you need to remember that everyone is different, and everyone needs different things at different times in their lives. I do very well with fats and protein and did very poorly on a Vegan diet. You were a die hard raw Vegan (I have your book) for many years until you realized you needed more in order to be healthy, same for Kevin. It is articles like this that make you less credible. There are many people who do very well on Raw dairy and it is a healthy food source for them. Other people are sensitive to it or do not digest it as well and should stay away from it, with many in between. I think it’s time you embrace the idea that everyone is different and what is good for you may not be good for everyone, and vise versa.
    Just my two cents. Also, I eat grass fed butter every day, my cholestrol is great and it gives me energy…..

  29. Everything you say is your opinion. There are things being discussed these days that LDL cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, either, rather inflammation, and other factors. Dairy, grains, raw, pale – not any one thing works for all people, and one thing may be harmful to one person and not another. Just because somebody writes a book or puts something out there on the internet or webinar doesn’t make it true. And information is constantly changing. I believe people should come to their own conclusions based on their own bodies and health.

  30. annonamous. says:

    He did not make the distinction between the different types of milk, a man who many would have known is `Bernard Jensen` he wrote a book called ” Goat Milk Magic ” he was helping many people with various health conditions by putting them on ` RAW GOAT MILK ` and getting there health back, Goat Milk is very close to human milk and the fat molecules are smaller and easier to digest, in fact many people and children who can not drink cows milk can drink goat milk, and the other kind of milk is `Sheep Milk` which is even better than goat milk.
    I myself also make Raw Goat Milk Kefir, have done for years and I`m healthy as.

    I do agree what they say about Cows milk, I do not think cows milk should be consumed by humans, but I think it is just giving bad advice to come out and say raw dairy isn’t healthy and not making the distinction between cows milk ( which should not be consumed by humans ) and the other types of milk.

    This article also did not make the distinction between A1 cows milk and pure jersey A2 cows milk, A1 milk is not fit for human consumption and this is where most of the information comes from about dairy linked to various health conditions, if you look at peoples who drink raw A2 cows milk you won`t get the same results linking it to various health conditions as you would with A1 milk.

    So I think this article is flawed.

    • Thank you for all the comments! I prefer to keep my articles focused on one topic. In this case, it was dairy in general. I’d love to discuss goat’s milk in future articles. You can probably anticipate my position: better but not ideal.

      A quick point about LDL cholesterol and “what works for one may not work for the other”: my opinion is FAR from being a lone voice in the wilderness. It’s in fact the claim that heart disease is caused by some other mysterious factor that’s actually the fringe opinion. The link between LDL cholesterol and heart disease is well-established. As I mentioned, the problem is some of the new studies quoted is the fact that they’re comparing two diets where cholesterol/fat content are already pass the threshold where it makes much of a difference.

  31. Amir says:

    Frederic, Your arguments can easily be debunked. Researches indicates that full fat cheese/butter/yogurt are healthy. Milk (not raw) is better not consumed because it is just low quality food and there are better nutrition in full fat. For raw milk i only here good things. All said is not relevant for someone that is sensitive to dairy though many people are not sensitive to dairy.

    Comments are closed for this post.