Okay, I was staying away from this thread, because I am feeling that the "what is natural for humans" discussion was getting a little pointless, but I had to respond to this point by dnw826: (how does everyone get people's names to show up in the quote box?)
|NOT everyone were herders and drank milk. Why do you think so much of the world is lactose intolerant? Drinking milk/eating cheese/butter was reserved pretty much to Europeans.
So not true. Dairy is a staple in India and Pakistan. Lots of dairy in the Middle East (from cow and goat and I *think* sheep). Many groups in Africa are herders and drink milk. Yak milk is a staple ingredient in Tibet. You'd think that in East Asia there wasn't any dairy, but my mom grew up in a rural area of Korea. Until she moved to Seoul, she had goat milk almost everyday while the goats were lactating, and she tells me that this was pretty common, if folks had access to a goat. Dairy just isn't a significant part of Korean cuisine at all, but many people still drank milk. I'd guess this is true in lots of other cultures as well.
|***Warning, personal speculation to follow***This seems to me to be adaptation to life-long dairy consumption on an individual level, not just a species level. If it's present as a significant portion of the diet, physiologically the assumption is made that it's worthwhile to continue to devote resources to adequately digest and assimilate it (I think of things like this as physical intelligence). Some people maybe just don't have the potential to produce lactase past weaning, but some - perhaps descended from populations with a history of dairy as a significant source of nutrition - have the ability that can either be maintained via consumption of lactose past weaning into adulthood, or lost for good if dairy is no longer a part of the diet past weaning. It makes sense to me that the body would continue to produce lactase if prompted by the presence of lactose in the diet, but if lactose consumption stops for an appreciable amount of time (years, say) then the body would no longer dedicate the resources to produce lactase.
This interests me. I've always wondered why in the world I seem to be lactose tolerant
while my Jewish dh is not. Can I speculate too? I am guessing gut bacteria is at issue. I thought that we produce lactase for our early years 1) because babies are reliant on breastmilk, and 2) babies' gut flora don't have all the necessary bacteria, which can produce lactase for us. Lactase-producing bacteria is also found in raw
cow milk (I honestly don't know about goat, sheep or yak, for that matter, but I'd guess it was there too). Anyway, I always wondered whether the large percentage of lactose-intolerant people in the population reflected some environmental condition - either due to the way we produce our milk, the health of our gut flora, or as AJP suggests, the presence of absence of lactose in the diet - and not, as many assume, some purely genetic condition.
And BTW, I am not even a particularly big fan of dairy. I've only recently starting consuming more dairy. Previously, I rarely ate any dairy - no milk or yogurt at all, occasional cheese or ice cream. I can take it or leave it, and the only reason why I'm taking it now is because in my case, raw milk is a simple, dense way to get more calcium. Yes, there are greens, whole fish (with the bones) and bone soup (these are my mom's current sources of calcium, and her scans show that she has the bone density of a teenage athlete!), but pouring a glass of milk or slicing up some cheese is easier for me. That's it - just pure laziness. If I had my choice about it though, I'd take my mom's soup over a glass of milk any day.
I'm going back to quote one of Marie's old posts. I'm adding my emphasis:
|I couldn't agree more. We are omnivores. If we are eating dairy/grains/legumes in moderation, I'm sure we would derive nutritional value that would outweigh the negatives. We are, however, eating it too much, and our bodies are just not capable of handling it, and this is where the genetic/palaeolithic nutritional pattern becomes part of the argument. Milk and milk proteins are everywhere, in almost every meal for our entire lives, unless we consciously try to avoid it. THAT is the crux of the problem. Our diets are too relient upon two foods: wheat and dairy...almost to the exclusion of other things (and when I say we, I mean the general American public...not Mothering.com specifically.)
Because really, I'm ITA with this. I think the features of the paleo diet describes, for the most part, the type of diet I am trying to achieve for my family (except the nuts. We don't do nuts. Oh, and bugs. We don't do bugs either). To this I add some soaked/sprouted/sourdough grains, some dairy, some food supplements, some probiotic stuff, some bone broths, some tropical fats - you know, the NT stuff. I don't think it needs to be an either/or proposition. The question of whether we ought to abstain from dairy because our paleolithic ancestors did not eat it or because cow milk is "made for" baby cows or is not one that concerns me much. Dairy is only part of a larger nutritional picture.
I'm getting so rambly here, and I wanted to say more, but since it's 3 am, I should probably just go to bed.