Dairy, otherwise known as milk-products, are derived from the milk of mammals, predominately cows. Milk is 87.5% water and 5.2% lactose and other minerals. The casein proteins are what gives it that white color. Aside from the products chemical makeup, what exactly makes milk and dairy a hot topic and has people wondering “should I go dairy-free?” Let’s explore that.
Is Dairy Healthy?
The nutrients that dairy can provide are scientifically proven to have health benefits. Dairy is an excellent source of calcium which increases bone density and makes them stronger. The proteins in dairy assist with maintaining muscle mass, which is prudent as we age. As with anything, too much of something can have negative side effects. While Harvard published that “despite the push by the US dairy industry to promote dairy products, especially milk, as a weight-loss tool, research hasn’t supported that except when also restricting calories” and while that is true, something doesn’t need to aid your weight loss goals for it to be healthy. Avocados have many health benefits, however if you put it on everything, the high caloric index will surely lead to weight gain if you aren’t restricting elsewhere. That said, Dr. Willet who is also a professor at Harvard would argue, “The basis of calcium recommendations is, I think, fundamentally flawed in the United States.” And he isn’t wrong, as with all of the universal recommendations. Each individual is different and their body needs different things. We have to figure that out for ourselves. The bottom line is that adding some dairy to your diet can have benefits as mentioned above, but it isn’t necessarily required, depending on your goals.
Why Can Some People Handle Dairy and Others Cannot?
John Hopkins University talks about lactose intolerance, a condition where an individual is unable to properly digest lactose. Lactose is a sugar protein which is found in dairy products and milk. So why are some people intolerant to lactose? It’s actually very common and can be linked to an allergy or a condition where, as a baby, the individual did not receive enough lactase. While there is no cure, some find the abdominal pain and frequent bathroom trips are worth that on bite of delicious, creamy ice cream. The good news is, there are so many dairy-free products now that are great alternatives to dairy. For example, almond milk and almond milk yogurt, cheese can be made without dairy, ice cream and even butter are all out there utilizing plant-based alternatives and they taste, in my opinion, much better.
Okay, but should I go dairy-free?
That’s a question only you or your doctor should answer. Although, there are proven benefits to practicing a dairy-free diet including clearer skin! Lactose is a sugar and we all know sugars can hinder clear skin. Therefore, cutting out dairy could improve your skin. You may also notice a bit of weight loss and, of course, easier and more comfortable digestion. Are you concerned with calcium loss? I understand. But you can get the needed calcium from other foods including soy or almond milk, tofu, greens, such as kale, and even broccoli and papaya. You can also try our dairy-free, flour-free Blueberry Lemon Bread.
Are you living dairy-free?