Allergen-free eats are a hallmark of an effective thyroid or autoimmune disease diet. That is, eliminating foods your body is reacting to, such as gluten and dairy help to ease these illnesses and reduce symptoms. While giving up gluten and dairy is a therapeutic step in your health journey, it can also prove difficult for many people. After all, breads, pastas, baked goods, cheese, butter, milk — they’re the very foods we’ve grown up on and grown to love. They’re the common denominator in nearly every comfort food and it can be hard to imagine a cuisine without them. So, before you take the leap and go dairy-free for optimum healing, consider switching to these safer dairy choices:
- Ghee: Ghee is butter that has had the casein and lactose skimmed off. The resulting product is a clear butter oil that is great for high-heat cooking and baking. Use in place of butter or oil in any recipe. Ghee has been used as a food and medicinal remedy in India for thousands of years. Also, because ghee is a healthy saturated fat and contains cholesterol, as well as natural iodine (as do all animal products), it’s a very healthy choice for the thyroid. I suggest purchasing from Purity Farms or Pure Indian Foods.
- Milk kefir: Milk kefir is a homemade yogurt-like product that is made with the use of milk kefir grains — tiny cauliflower-looking balls that are a symbiotic balance of healthy yeasts and bacteria. These yeast and bacteria are probiotic and eat the sugars in milk. Simply place milk kefir grain in a glass of high-quality milk, allow to sit on the counter for about a day, and the end result is a tangy yogurt. Because the sugars in the milk are converted to lactic acid, milk kefir is a superior dairy product and highly therapeutic. Recent studies on lactic acid (as found in all fermented probiotic foods) have uncovered it’s ancient, yet medicinal wisdom. Purchase organic milk kefir grains from a small seller on Etsy or via Cultures for Health.
- Raw goats milk or sheeps milk cheeses: Milk from goats and sheep contain a considerably less amount of casein — the milk protein that is known to over-stimulate the immune system in those with autoimmune disease (note that all milk contains some casein, including human breast milk). Finding a milk with a lower casein ratio is what’s important here. Because sheep and goats are naturally smaller animals, they inherently have lower amounts of casein in their milk. Cows, and their milk and cheeses on the other hand, contain much more casein because they are larger animals — much bigger than humans. Choose cheeses that are raw and have not been pasteurized; pasteurization of dairy products distorts the proteins, confuses our bodies, and causes autoimmune attack. Most likely, the only raw cheeses you’ll be able to find are organic, grass-fed, or beyond organic so there’s no reason to worry about contamination.