Why I Frequently Allow Butter on a Dairy Free Diet

on May11
by Dr. Vikki Petersen | Print the article |

Nutritionists work with the diets of patients quite extensively. It is, in fact, one of the most important changes we make in our patient’s lives. Even though our culture might assume otherwise, simply swallowing a pill and making a symptom go away is not the answer to improving one’s health. So our clinical nutrition department dedicates much time towards discovering the best diet for our patients because it is an integral part to optimizing health.

A Reader’s Question:

“You mention that you typically recommend avoiding dairy products to your patients, but then say you allow them some organic butter.  Can you explain how a product derived from cow’s milk is not a dairy product?”

I can definitely see where the confusion is coming from so let me clarify:

What Portion of Dairy is the Problem?

The problem with dairy products (and most foods to which we have reactions) is the protein portion of them.  The protein is pro-inflammatory and much like the protein portion of the grains wheat, rye and barley, it seems that the human body doesn’t respond well to it.

Many researchers put dairy products in a non-food category. They state that while we are designed to digest our own mother’s milk for the first few years of life, we were never designed to glean nutrition from the milk of another mammal such as the cow, goat or sheep. For that reason, plus a couple of decades of clinical nutrition experience supporting that theory, I recommend to my patients that they exclude dairy from their diet.

What’s Different About Butter

How is butter different?

Butter is about 80-82% fat (higher fat butters are available if you look for them), 17% water and only about 1% milk solids (protein).  For most patients I find that minimal amount of protein is insufficient to bother them.

For others that small protein content is bothersome and creates reactions. As nutritionists we find that most of these patients may enjoy clarified butter or ghee where virtually all water and protein are removed with only the fat remaining. Ghee in particular goes through a heating process that purportedly renders it completely protein-free.

Why Organic?

Organic is an important component because the fat is where the hormones and toxins that the animal was exposed to will reside in a non-organic product.  The organic version should be free of such contaminants since the animal was not given them as part of the organic promise. Do realize that the likelihood of finding organic butter being served outside your home is slim to none. So limit any butter consumption to that you eat at home.

And why not simply cook with olive oil and coconut oil and be done with it? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact it’s an excellent idea and what you should be doing the vast majority of the time.

One last point about organic butter: it can not only be enjoyable to cook with but it does contain an interesting saturated fat that is also an omega-6 fat called CLA.

A Saturated Fat That’s Good For You?

In the spirit of “never saying never”, CLA is actually a saturated, trans fat that’s very good for you.  It has the unique status of being the sole trans fat that is considered to be healthy and there is quite a lot of information about it because it in fact tends to act like a “good” omega-3 fat in the body.

Here are some of the benefits of CLA according to research:

• In animal studies a relatively small amount of CLA was found to reduce tumors by over 50% in breast,    colorectal, skin, stomach and lung cancers.

• It was found to reduce high blood pressure, lower the risk for heart disease as well as reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.

• It improved osteoporosis and insulin resistance associated with diabetes and obesity.

• It is an anti-inflammatory and stimulates the immune system to be more effective.

• Lastly, human studies show a benefit in lowering body fat, especially in those who combined taking CLA with exercise.

So there you have it. I hope this clears up any confusion as regards our clinical nutrition department’s stand on dairy products. In the main it is best to avoid them, but for many some organic butter or ghee is just fine.

Please send in your questions and let us know how we may be of assistance. As a destination clinic we see patients from across the country as well as internationally. We are here to help you, your family and friends.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen. DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Permission is granted to re-post this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”.  She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker.

The Author

8 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Anne


    Butter from grass fed cows is awesome and richer in omega 3′s and vitamin K. Makes other butters taste rancid in comparison. Thanks for another great post.

    11 May
  2. Lucy


    Okay, I unders tand the article. How much organic butter that fits this profile would one need to consume to gain any noticable benefits? How long?

    11 May
  3. 3

    Thank you for writing this. I have been telling my patients for years about why butter is very beneficial but milk products are disastrous. I have even done testing with “raw” milk products and don’t think they are good for consumption because of the casein. Casein is a really detrimental substance that not a lot of people talk about. Hopefully there will be more awareness in the future about it.

    11 May
  4. Jodi


    What about avoiding the lactose in butter? Is clarified butter or ghee (don’t know what the difference is) significantly better in this regard?

    11 May
  5. 5

    HI Jodi,
    I think butter and clarified butter should be avoided as well. There is still ‘some’ protein left in butter, albeit minimal, and while ghee should be protein-free, what’s left is the fat. Unfortunately the hormones fed to cows these days reside in the fatty portion, so while you are avoiding the protein from an allergy/sensitivity standpoint, the fat brings with it a whole host of other problems – none of them healthy.

    Dr Vikki

    11 May
  6. GrkStav


    If one is and has been lactose-intolerant, then one should avoid butter (actual, real butter) unless one is absolutely, positively certain that all there is in the butter one is about to consume is 100% fat. Otherwise, do not try it. The effects are the worst ones associated with the inability properly to digest lactose and casein. If someone else is making your, e.g. birthday cake, and that someone is not qualified to and actually makes ‘pareve’ dishes as a matter of course, you’re likely to end up not enjoying your birthday, as you’ll suffer for the rest of the day, and risk submitting one’s closest friends and loved ones to noxious gases. TMI, I know, but let’s keep it real.

    11 May
  7. Tiya


    what Products Would You Suggest? Is LandOLakes Good For You? Or I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter Brand?

    11 May
  8. 8

    Please be careful and read ingredient lists carefully. “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” has buttermilk in it. Spectrum offers some nice options. See if your local grocery store carries it.
    I hope this helps.
    Dr Vikki

    11 May

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