I’ve always known since I was a kid that dairy didn’t work for me. I loved ice cream and cheeses, but they just made me feel gross. I would get upset stomach, gas, bloating, and just an overall sense of “blah”. But I continued to eat it. I ate it because, well, let’s face it, it was just so delicious. I knew full well what was going to happen after eating it. But dairy had to go. All of it. Even the little buggers that hide in other items you wouldn’t think would contain dairy. Dairy is a major inflammatory food. Many people are self-diagnosed lactose intolerant, so eliminating dairy is not a huge leap for them, but for others, dairy is a staple in their diet. Just because you’re not symptomatic for lactose intolerance does not mean that your body doesn’t react negatively to it.
This is where things get a little gross (well, for me they did.) First off, we’re the only species that consumes milk post-lactation (which is a little weird when you put it that way). Secondly, we’re the only species that drinks another species milk. Dairy does many things in the body once it’s consumed. It triggers glands to start producing oil, causing acne, pimples, and other skin problems. After about 24 months of age, many of us begin to lose the enzyme that helps break down dairy, which is why babies can have milk for every meal during lactation.
There are plenty of other foods that provide calcium for you like, leafy greens, seafood, many fruits and vegetables and legumes. As far as Vitamin D is concerned, our body best synthesizes Vitamin D by sun exposure, so hit the beach! Or for us that live in Seattle or other climates that don’t provide a lot of sunshine, Vitamin D in supplement form is a very good option. Make sure you purchase high-grade Vitamin D supplements from your health care provider, not the synthetic kind on sale at the supermarket.
You see, the thing is our body isn’t designed to digest and process cow’s milk, especially when it’s pasteurized. In fact, many studies have proven that milk actually depletes the bones of calcium. Don’t be too shocked! Protein, especially animal protein is very acidic. It raises the pH of the body which sends a signal to your body “hey, we have to neutralize this situation!” Because calcium is such a great acid neutralizer, your body needs to pump out the calcium to neutralize this increase in pH. Bones, being the largest storage of calcium in the body, is where this acid neutralizing calcium is pulled from. Once the body starts pulling calcium out of storage, it can’t go back into storage (bones) so it is then passed out of the body via urine. Some studies have even proven that people who drank more milk, were/are more prone to bone fractures in their later adult life than their non-milk-drinking brethren.
Have dairy (in moderation). I personally don’t recommend consuming dairy products, even if you don’t react badly, but if cheese is something you just can’t live without, then by all means, have a little. If you react badly, you probably don’t need more motivation to cut out dairy permanently. It’s okay to go with goats’ milk and cheeses made from goat’s milk. The proteins are smaller and could be processed easier by the body. This isn’t the case for everyone, but I have seen some clients react okay with goat’s milk.
One other thing I would like to mention about dairy: Milking cows, regardless of who you talk to, isn’t humane. This process puts cows on milking machines for sometimes eight hours or more each day, constantly milking. Since cows aren’t designed to produce this much milk while not having baby cows to feed, their pumped full of hormones to trick the cow’s body into thinking it’s lactating, thus producing milk non-stop. These milking machines cause severe puss filled sores and infection on the udders of the cows, causing farmers to give them antibiotics to treat this infection. Also when cows are fed an all corn diet, their stomachs get infected too. The farmer then treats this by, you guessed it, antibiotics! These antibiotics are then released from their body via the milk, into the milk that’s being collected… the milk you drink. Obviously the FDA won’t allow puss-filled, antibiotic infested, hormone milk to go to store shelves, so they then pasteurize the milk. They heat up the milk to kill any potentially harmful bacteria, leaving you with a milk that has (dead) potentially harmful bacteria, (dead) puss cells, antibiotic and hormone infested milk. Because these dairy products are laden with antibiotics and hormones, some studies indicate that this is the reason antibiotic resistance is becoming a huge problem. People are consuming (unnecessarily) antibiotics and hormones, causing hormone imbalances and antibiotic resistance. During this pasteurization process, the milk proteins change size, getting larger, making it even more difficult for your body to absorb.
When you embark to remove dairy from your diet, and you’re beginning to read food labels, you will find milk and dairy can hide in the ingredient list under the name Casein or Casein Protein. This is the allergenic aspect of dairy and is what causes the symptoms. Dairy hides in so many foods, and could be under the names of kefir, milk solids, non-fat milk solids, lactose, lactalbumin, caseinate, sodium caseinate, among many others.
Like I have stressed in every section, research dairy on your own. Learn more about the effects it has on your body, and learn more about where it can hide. Look for adjectives like “creamy or gooey” as an indicator that it may contain dairy. Oh, and lactose free milk is modified and has the allergenic casein protein’s removed, however, the milk is still poorly absorbable because of the size of the proteins left behind. I prefer to have almond, cashew, soy or coconut milk. There are plenty of great tasting dairy free alternatives to yogurts, cheeses, and milk.