There are a lot of fads lately as far as diets go. This leaves many of us wondering, why on Earth are people in there 40’s and 50’s starting to eliminate things from their diets like gluten, soy, or dairy? Is there really any health benefit from doing this, or is this simply something that will fizzle out over time? In this post we will cover everything you need to know about lactose intolerance and how cutting dairy out of your diet can affect your body.
First, let’s take a look at what happens inside our bodies when we consume dairy. For people who are lactose intolerant, their bodies are unable to digest lactose (a sugar found in milk and other dairy products). The lactose should be broken down by an enzyme produced in the small intestine, called lactase. For people who are unable to break down lactose, it instead moves directly into the colon without being absorbed or processed by the body. This causes unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, and even painful cramps.
Did you know that humans are the only animal to consume milk in adulthood? We are also the only animal that consumes another animals’ milk… interesting isn’t it? Another fun fact is that 75% of the world population suffers from some degree of lactose intolerance. (Most are unaware) This all points strongly towards the idea that we should not be consuming dairy!
Symptoms Caused by Eating Dairy
- Hormone Imbalance
- Mood Swings
- Uncontrolled blood sugars
You may have scanned over this list and raised an eyebrow to at least one of the items listed above. Can eating dairy really cause inflammation? For people who suffer from arthritis, eating full-fat dairy products can actually increase inflammation. As if you don’t suffer enough already, consuming foods high in saturated fats like cheese, will worsen your aches and pains.
Not everyone in the world is lactose intolerant and will experience uncomfortable GI upsets from eating dairy. That doesn’t mean people who CAN tolerate eating dairy won’t experience some of the other symptoms it causes…
Can eating dairy be the cause of your headaches? Migraine headaches are known to be caused by certain triggers such as food. Certain types of dairy products, like aged cheeses, can cause a vascular response in your body and cause your headache. If you are someone who suffers from frequent or debilitating headaches, you may want to consider an elimination diet to determine if dairy is the root cause of your issues!
Hormone imbalance is one of the symptoms that people are most surprised by. Does it surprise you that dairy cows are plumped full of hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease and produce more milk? Then it shouldn’t be too shocking that what we are giving these cows is then transferred into the milk that we drink.
Cow’s milk naturally contains androgenic properties, which raises testosterone in the body. Female cows (the ones that produce milk) also have high levels of estrogen which is then transferred through to the milk we consume. This then increases the estrogen levels in or bodies. What happens to our bodies when our hormones are out of whack? Mood swings, acne, fatigue, among other things. So, what can you do?
Try an Elimination Diet
If any of the unwanted symptoms I have listed in this post sound familiar to you, you should consider going dairy free. There is no fancy or complex trick to going dairy free. Trying an elimination diet (removing all dairy products from your diet) for about 3 weeks will tell you what you need to know. Did your symptoms improve or go away completely? If you’re still not convinced that dairy is the cause of your ailments, then simply re-introduce dairy into your diet. Did your symptoms return? Now you know!
This may sound a bit easier said than done, I get it. You will need to be aware of what you are eating and whether it contains dairy. This means there will be a little extra effort needed on your part to execute this properly. Eliminating dairy will include avoiding any animal-based milk or milk products. This includes yogurt, cheese, and even ice cream! Don’t be alarmed. If these are things you simply CANNOT live without as there are plenty of dairy substitute products on the market today.
You will need to do your homework and start reading nutrition labels. Dairy is hidden in many boxed and canned items that we may not realize. The easiest way to ensure you are not consuming dairy is by sticking to whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and organic meats. Any additives such as seasoning blends or sauces will need to be evaluated to determine if it contains dairy products. If tackling this process on your own seems like too much to handle, consider contacting our team at Twin Oaks Health to discuss your current gut health needs!