healthy food lifestyle :: 4 :: dairy + soy + protein

This post is part of a series I am titling "healthy food lifestyle" and it details my philosophy on food as well as the "whys" behind my choices and the practicalities of the way I choose to eat. Read all the posts in this series here.


We have been taught to believe that cow’s milk and other cow dairy products are good for us and essential for getting calcium and vitamin D. However, the truth is cow’s dairy, especially skim milk, is NOT the best choice. The protein in cow’s milk (casein protein) is difficult for the human body to break down. Furthermore, because milk is pasteurized, all of the good attributes that may have been in it originally have been cooked out during pasteurization. Milk actually causes our bodies to produces mucus, even if you do not feel it; and this mucus becomes a burden on our respiratory, digestive, and immune systems. In fact, pasteurized dairy causes our white blood cell count to increase by 300-400%, which is the same thing that happens when our body is fighting infection!

It does not stop there, milk can block iron absorption causing low red blood cell count; pasteurized dairy intake has been linked to thyroid conditions and diabetes; and growth hormones and antibiotics that are put into the cows then go directly into our bloodstream when we drink it.

All of these things will be happening in your body even though you may not know it or feel it. So, think how good you would feel if your body was not having to go through all that because of dairy.

It is worth knowing, butter and cream do not contain the casein-heavy protein contained in milk, and therefore are actually easier to digest in small quantities.

 Many people argue that if you do not drink milk you will not get the necessary amount of calcium and vitamin D. However, in order for calcium to effectively be absorbed by the body, magnesium is needed. Milk contains very little magnesium. Leafy greens contain the optimal combination of calcium and magnesium for calcium absorption.

Some good alternatives to cow’s milk and other cow dairy products are:
• Goat products – milk, cheeses, yogurts
*My favorite cheese – Alta Dena Cheddar-style Goat Cheese
• Nut milks
*Almond milk is my favorite.
• Hemp milk
• Oat milk
• Rice milk
• Coconut milk
*Look for the unsweetened versions, otherwise these milks can be high in sugar.


You will notice that I did not mention soy products as a good alternative to cow dairy products, and there is a good reason for that. Almost all soy on the market is genetically modified and genetically modified means we don't really know what it can do to our bodies. More and more studies on soy are being released to show that soy actually interferes with our hormones. Soy is also mucus-producing, even more so than cow dairy. This mucus accumulates in your body creating common digestive problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and slows down the body’s digestion and circulatory systems. 

When you hear people talking about the Japanese who have such long life spans because they eat lots of soy, well that is just not true. Japanese eat soy in condiments, about 2 teaspoons a day, and these condiments are fermented which counteracts the negative effects of soy.

What are these other negative effects of soy? Soy is contains phytoestrogens, a plant-based estrogen that some argue mimics estrogen in our body. In fact, soy contains more phytoestrogen than almost any other food. As we now know, the leading cause of breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, infertility, and low libido is estrogen dominance. Eating soy puts more estrogen in your body (Michaelis).

Soy is a goitrogen, which means it suppresses your thyroid, preventing your thyroid from getting the necessary amount of iodine. Overtime, consuming large amounts of soy can destroy your thyroid’s function (Michaelis).

Soy must be fermented in order to be digestible to humans, otherwise its phytates, enzyme-inhibitors, block mineral absorption in our digestive tract (Michaelis).

Fermented soy products include miso, tempeh, natto, or a naturally fermented soy sauce (tamari). My favorite soy sauce is the Nama Shoyu raw soy sauce, which contains healthy natural ezymes.

The bottom line here, is that soy milk is not a good alternative to cow’s dairy, and soy-based meat alternatives are highly processed and should be avoided as well.


Protein is made up of amino acids. There are 22 amino acids. Eight of these amino acids are called "essential" because they are not made in the body and therefore must be consumed in the diet. Protein and the amino acids that make up protein, build and repair body tissues. It helps the body resist disease. It is necessary in the processes of muscle contraction, water balance regulation and nutrient transportation.

Protein, like all things in our diet, needs to be eaten in the proper balance. A general rule of thumb, is that about 20% of your calories should come from protein. Some people may require a slightly higher percentage.

Many people mistakenly think that animal meats are the best way to get protein in your diet. Although animal meats do contain protein, our bodies do not easily digest animal proteins and they are not necessarily the best or only choice for how to add protein in your diet. If you chose to eat meat, the key is to eat high quality meats. Below is the hierarchy of animal meats starting with the best choice and deteriorating down to meats to avoid.

Good Wild Fish (Salmon)
Good Wild Fish (White Fish)
Good Organic, Free-Range Chicken (Skinless)
Okay Lower-fat cuts of Organic Beef
BAD Non-organic chicken
BAD  Farm-raised fish
BAD Ground Beef (non-organic)
BAD Canned Sardines

Minimizing the amount of animal meats that you eat is a healthy choice, especially when there are so many other delicious choices for protein. Foods that are also high in protein and contain many other healthy nutrients as well are:
• Quinoa
• Beans
• Eggs (Grass-fed, organic – NOT egg substitute)
• Raw seeds and nuts
• Almond and other nut butters

 Here are some guidelines on how often you should allow yourself to eat the different kinds of meats:

LEAN, Organic Red Meat
one serving a week
Organic Chicken/Turkey
2-3 servings a week


Michaelis, Kristen. "Dangers of Soy." FOOD RENEGAD. Kristen Michaelis, 17 Sep 2009. Web. 14 Apr 2011. 

Favorite Recipe No. 4

Almond Milk {with vanilla and cinnamon optional}

{image courtesy of Oh She Glows}

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