Here are 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Ditching Dairy
Whether we’re talking about milk, cheese, yogurts or butter, dairy products are not health foods and eliminating them from our diets can help with everything from allergies to IBS. Here are a few reasons to consider going dairy-free (even if only for a month or two).
Reason #1 – Many people are sensitive to it (& may not know it!)
Dairy products contain two main proteins—whey and casein—that can upset our digestive tracts. These proteins are different from the more commonly-known ‘lactose intolerance,’ which is the inability to break down the milk-sugar lactose.
Having a sensitivity (not allergy) to one or more milk proteins is more common than one might think—it’s actually one of the top 5 food sensitivities in North America! When your body’s immune system reacts to these proteins, you may end up with constipation, IBS symptoms, headaches, or joint pain. Try to eliminate dairy for at least 7 days to see if these symptoms improve or consider an IGG blood test to find out exactly how sensitive you are to common foods.
Reason #2 – It can mess with your hormones
All animal products, including dairy, contain a molecule called insulin growth factor 1, or IGF-1. This is necessary to help newborn animals grow and develop, but too much (especially from cow’s milk) can cause issues with blood sugar, obesity & cancer risk.
Note that in Canada, dairy cows are not permitted to have added growth hormones to their feed but IGF-1 is still present in both conventional and organic products.
Reason #3 – You don’t need it for strong bones
Did you know that the countries with the highest dairy consumption also have the highest fracture rates? Although dairy does contain calcium, it’s important to note that there are many other factors that impact bone health—including weight-bearing exercise, magnesium, collagen, high fruit & vegetable diet, etc.. And if you’re still concerned about calcium specifically, why not make a habit of eating more almonds, sesame seeds, broccoli & kale?
Reason #4 – Dairy can worsen allergies & asthma
Dairy products can increase the body’s production of mucous, which is not ideal if you already feel congested or stuffy. Since dairy products (mostly in the form of milk) can trigger inflammation as well, asthma sufferers might consider eliminating these foods to help get some relief and reduce their reliance on prescription inhalers.
Reason #5 – There are tons of tasty alternatives to keep in the kitchen
So you want to eliminate dairy products—but what do you eat instead? Not to worry! The dairy-free movement has been growing exponentially in the last several years—there are so many delicious options available!
Replacing milk is probably the easiest—try a rice or almond variety in cereals, smoothies or other recipes. Soy, coconut & almond yogurts can be found at most specialty supermarkets so give them a try as part of your mid-afternoon snack with berries and topped with trail mix. Don’t forget hidden dairy too! Dairy-free chocolate, chips (yes, some regular varieties contain milk) and energy bars can replace the current varieties in your cupboard for a seamless transition.
What’s your biggest reason for going dairy-free?
Dr. Laura Belus is a Naturopathic Doctor that focuses on detoxification and hormone balance for weight loss, stress management, and greater energy. She believes in making simple, yet powerful, changes to diet & lifestyle habits that create lasting results. She practices in Mississauga and Toronto.