My First Time #11 - Raw & Fermented Dairy

My first time drinking Kefir

Since being on the carnivore diet, I’ve been paying close attention to my nutrition and making sure I’m getting everything my body needs to be healthy. I’ve started making sure I get calves liver on a regular basis as it’s probably the most nutritionally dense food a human can eat, but it’s always good to have other sources of vitamins and minerals to create a balance.

I’ve seen a few people advocate that raw dairy is super good for you due to pasteurisation, whilst killing off harmful things, also killing off many of the really good things in milk, like vitamin C. It stands to reason that milk in essence would be most balanced in it’s raw form, as that’s how we have it from our mothers as babies.

Fermented products are supposedly great for our gut health. Not only do they have ‘good bacteria’ in them, the fermentation process begins to break down these products, so essentially they’re already part digested, and as such, are far easier for our own digestive systems to process.

On a random whim, I decided to try three dairy products I’d never had before… Kefir, Buttermilk, and raw milk. Starting with buttermilk, which after buying, I realised it’s primarily for baking, but the label did say it makes for a ‘nutritious drink’. Buttermilk is essentially the left over liquid bi-product of making butter… hence the name.

The first thing I noticed was that the smell reminded me of homemade cakes. It had the smell of a baking tray after being greased with butter. After a quick sip, I immediately poured the rest down the sink! It’s acidic and horrible! It’s pretty much like gone off milk. Stay away other than for baking, where I guess it’s probably awesome.

My first time drinking Buttermilk
My first time drinking Buttermilk

Next thing I tried was Kefir. I’ve seen a few people raving about this stuff and wasn’t overly sure what it actually was to begin with. Turns out it’s by adding ‘Kefir grains’ which is basically a type of yeast to milk to start the fermentation process. This is supposed to add all kinds of health benefits for your gut bacteria.

Kefir tastes very similar to yoghurt. It’s much thinner and more drink like, with a very slight fizz to it. It’s not at all unpleasant, and reminds me a lot of drinking yoghurt drinks like Yop, or probiotics like Actimel.

My first time drinking Kefir

Last up for me to try was raw milk. This can be hard to find in shops due to the very short shelf life. That’s one of the reasons for pasteurisation. It increases the longevity of the milk, due to killing off the bacteria that makes milk go bad. It’s interesting to note that pasteurising milk prevents it from being able to ferment, which is why it goes off. Cheese and yoghurt can only be made from raw dairy, unless you add certain enzymes back in.

My favourite East London coffee shop Mae + Harvey uses raw whole milk, so thankfully I didn’t have to go far. They source it from The Estate Dairy, which uses pasture raised Guernsey cows to produce high protein unhomogenised milk. The first thing I noticed was the colour wasn’t as bright white as I usually expect with milk from the supermarket. It was also much creamier in texture compared to regular milk.

Taste-wise, this was probably the nicest milk I’ve ever tried. I’m not a huge milk drinker, and it’s been a long time since I’ve just had a glass of milk on it’s own, so I’m definitely no connoisseur, but this was good! I guess the increase in fat content probably contributed to the taste quite a lot, but whatever it was, I was into it.

My first time drinking raw dairy

Unfortunately, about an hour after the raw dairy, I noticed my stomach not feeling great. It wasn’t painful or ‘bad’ per say, but one of the things I’ve enjoyed since being carnivore is how much better my digestive system has felt, so I noticed this change immediately.

Unfortunately, because I tried all three drinks within a space of a few hours, it’s difficult to say which one caused the problem, or whether it was all three. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was slightly lactose intolerant, purely because I don’t consume milk very often, if ever. If you don’t eat or drink certain things, the bacteria in your gut that are needed to break down those things (in this case, an enzyme called lactase) can either die off or be disposed of.

Have you tried raw milk or kefir? What are your thoughts? As nice as the raw milk and kefir were, I’m probably not in any hurry to add them into my diet. I feel better without them, but your mileage may vary.