In this article I will be taking a look at cheese and hopefully answering the question, is cheese paleo friendly or not.
Dairy as a whole, is a bit of a grey area for the Paleo diet as there is a constant debate on whether or not dairy can fit into the modern version of the diet.
As you may know, back in the Palaeolithic era that modern paleo is based on, there was no dairy of any form as it was quite difficult to milk wild game. On the flip side just because it wasn’t utilised in the Palaeolithic diet back then it doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad for you. Much like butter, despite being an ingredient that is often indulged in, is a product of dairy.
If you are just after the short answer, well in this case it is up to you as cheese is a good source of many good nutrients, however if you want to be strict to the Palaeolithic diet then you will obviously need to avoid cheese altogether.
What Makes Cheese Bad For You?
There is a couple of ingredients you have to watch out for that is present in all dairy products, the main and most prominent ones being lactose, and Casein.
Lactose is a core component of all dairy products, however it is also a very prominent ingredient to suffer an intolerance to, with over 40 million people in the United States alone being regarded as lactose intolerant.
Lactose is something that you definitely need to watch out for if you have an intolerance as it can cause some quite undesirable side effects. However, they aren’t as harmful to you as a reaction to Casein is and as we will explain later Cheese doesn’t actually have that much lactose in it despite being a product of dairy.
Casein is a type of a protein that makes up the vast majority of dairy proteins, alongside whey. This protein is regarded as a slow burning protein that makes it a popular choice among body builders and gym fanatics as it allows for maximum absorption.
Casein is also regarded as an allergen, though to a much lesser degree then lactose is, however an allergy to Casein is slower but has much more harmful effects then a lactose intolerance. This is due to it being able to result in the tearing of the gut lining, breathing problems, skin rashes, and hives. However, don’t be to put off by this as an allergy to casein is regarded as being quite rare, but if you do suffer from it, it will be a good idea to just avoid cheese altogether.
So Does That Make Cheese off-limits?
In short, no not completely, if you’re lactose intolerant there is still hope for you, however if you do suffer from an allergy to Casein it is probably best to avoid cheese altogether, the potential risks are not worth it.
While Lactose is a key element to dairy products, the process of making cheese from dairy does actually reduce the amount of lactose to basically nothing. How this happens you wonder? well this is due to that during the making of cheese the lactose is converted into lactic acid by bacteria.
The lactic acid that is created from the conversion is what actually begins the curdling process that eventually results in cheese, which by the end of the process basically removes any residual lactose that could be possibly found. However, it may still be an idea to watch out if you suffer from a severe reaction to lactose, though as a general rule of thumb, the older a cheese is, the less lactose it will have remaining.
So is Cheese Paleo?
To sum up the question is cheese paleo it’s important to note that opinions will vary from person to person. There is a constant debate whether or not cheese should be allowed but it’s totally up to you on what you want to include in your diet.
Cheese has some very admirable levels of key elements of the paleo diet, these being the levels of fat, protein, and flavour. However it does have some drawbacks, these being the presence of lactose, though the vast majority of that is removed in the cheese making process. The other drawback is being the problematic protein casein, though it is rare to have an actual allergy to it.
I can’t really say outright whether cheese is paleo or not as it exists in somewhat of a primal limbo alongside raw dairy. Since it’s such a grey area, it’s really up to you to decide whether cheese fits within your version of the Paleo diet.
There is some reasons why you might want to avoid it, but there are also good benefits to eating cheese as well. If you want to stick to a strict version of the paleo diet and reap the full benefits of the paleo diet then I personally would leave cheese off your paleo diet shopping list and avoid it as much as possible. However with that said, there isn’t a huge amount of harm by including a little bit of cheese just be sure to try and stick to the cheeses that are both in high quality and not processed.