Should You Be Dairy Free?
Happy autumn! A few issues ago in Don’t Get Your Gut In A Rut, we looked at the benefits of a gluten-free diet. This month we will examine the benefits of a dairy-free diet, what that looks like, and how to decide if it’s right for you.
First, let's define what falls under “dairy” since it can look like a lot of different things. A dairy-free diet means excluding all foods that contain products derived from animal milk - most commonly cows, sheep, goats, and buffalo in the United States. This means avoiding foods that contain milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, cream, and ice cream.
Some people are forced to be dairy-free due to an allergy to the proteins (casein and whey) in animal milk products. An allergic reaction can range from rashes to digestive issues to more serious anaphylaxis. Dairy intolerance means a sensitivity to the sugar found in milk, known as lactose intolerance. This sensitivity is more common to cow milk products compared to an intolerance to milk from sheep, goats, and buffalo. These latter animal milk can still cause digestive and skin symptoms but tend to be less severe.
Dairy can be an excellent source of calcium, needed for bone-building strength. It’s important to consider how to get calcium from other sources if you are dairy-free. This is possible by adding other high-calcium foods to your diet, including dark leafy greens (i.e. kale, broccoli, and collard greens), almonds, sesame seeds, black strap molasses, soy, chia seeds, and white beans. There are also many non-dairy alternatives fortified with calcium like non-dairy milk (oat, soy, coconut, almond) as well as “creamy” alternatives you can easily make at home like cashew cream or coconut cream. Please note these are not pre-packaged foods with lots of additives - they are simple and easy to make from healthy, whole foods.
Another thing to consider is goat and sheep milk. Because they contain a different protein than cow’s milk (A1 vs A2 proteins, with A2 proteins being more easily digestible), people with dairy allergies and/or sensitivities sometimes better tolerate these milks. This also means they can tolerate products (yogurts, cheeses, etc) made with these animal milks more easily.
A few other benefits of going dairy-free include improved skin and acne conditions, easier weight loss, increased energy levels, and lowering inflammation, which can help decrease candida overgrowth and boost immune strength.
The decision to go dairy-free, unless you are forced due to a severe allergy, is a personal choice. If you are considering it, try it for 6 weeks to see if it makes a noticeable difference in your body. You may opt to cut out all dairy products at once or try cutting only cow’s milk products if all types of animal milk products feel too challenging.
Unsure what to do or how to switch to a dairy-free diet while still getting a healthy amount of daily nutrients? We are here to help! Schedule a free phone consultation so we can work together to figure out the customized approach that is best for you!
My passion is to help you live your healthiest and most harmonious life, but in a way that’s realistic and practical for you as a unique individual on this planet. My philosophy is all about “balance,” never a diet since a diet is not sustainable for life, aka Kill The Diet.