Giving up dairy can be an intimidating undertaking. With dairy present in everything from cheese on a slice of pizza to a splash of cream in a cup of coffee, it can feel overwhelmingly difficult to avoid it. But for many people, the benefits of giving up dairy are truly worth the effort!
Let’s unpack those benefits and explore some practical ways to live a delicious dairy-free life.
The Benefits of Giving Up Dairy
The health benefits of giving up dairy are extensive and well documented. Milk consumption has long been associated with increased mucus production and breathing conditions such as asthma. Research shows that milk stimulates mucus production from the gut and respiratory tract.¹ Eliminating dairy from the diet can result in improved respiratory health and fewer sinus issues.
Because approximately 75 percent of the world has some level of lactose intolerance, avoiding dairy altogether often results in restored digestive function and a reduced instance of unpleasant symptoms like stomach aches, gas, and diarrhea.²
In our clinics, dairy is one of the most common allergies we see come up on patient tests (both IgE allergies and IgG allergies). When these allergies go untested, they can lead to chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the common denominator of many illnesses and health conditions, which is why we take such care at The Wellness Way to guide our patients in calming inflammation throughout the entire body. Testing for food allergies is a critical step in that process.
Because of its inflammatory nature, dairy has also been linked to inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema. One study published in Clinics in Dermatology indicated that the anabolic steroids and growth hormones in milk can stimulate the development of acne.³ Many of our patients report positive improvements in their skin upon giving up dairy and adopting a nutrient-dense diet tailored to their unique food allergies.
Strategies for Giving Up Dairy
We promise that giving up dairy is not as difficult as it sounds! Keep these strategies in mind as you make the transition.
1. Read labels carefully. Dairy hides out in a large number of foods. Know the various names for dairy and look at labels closely. In addition to common names like milk, cheese, or cream, dairy also goes by:
- Casein or caseinate
- Whey or whey protein isolate/concentrate
- Natural milk flavor or natural butter flavor
- DMS (dry milk solids)
- Lactate solids
- Lactyc yeast
2. Focus on whole foods. Eating a diet rich in organic vegetables and fruits, grass-fed meats, and healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and coconut oil will leave little room for processed foods and their hidden sources of dairy.
3. Enjoy dairy replacements occasionally. Non-dairy milks like coconut milk and hemp milk are easy and convenient alternatives to reach for occasionally. In recent years, the options for dairy replacements have greatly improved in availability and flavor. You can now find dairy-free yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, and ice cream in most grocery stores. These are helpful swaps to ease your transition to a dairy-free diet, but remember to read labels carefully, as they can contain other highly processed ingredients.
4. Explore dairy-free recipes! Once you learn a dairy-free approach to cooking, you’ll love the new world of flavors and textures that opens up to you. Try a few of our favorite dairy-free recipes to get you started:
What About Goat and Sheep Milk?
For people who aren’t lactose intolerant but have a dairy allergy, they are often reacting to the A1 type of casein protein found in cow’s milk. Goat and sheep’s milk contains the A2 type of casein protein, which is much less inflammatory. A2 protein more closely resembles the proteins found in human breast milk, making it less likely to trigger allergies and inflammation. Goat’s milk is also higher in zinc and selenium than cow’s milk, while sheep’s milk is higher in vitamin B12, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium than either cow or goat’s milk.
That being said, the only way to know if you have an allergy to cow, goat, or sheep’s milk is to get your food allergies tested. While goat or sheep’s milk may be a great alternative for some, it will do more harm than good for a person who is allergic. The cutting edge testing we conduct in our clinics differentiates between types of milk allergies and will also test for allergies to other ingredients like almonds or coconut, which are common ingredients in dairy replacement products that may also need to be avoided.
We’re Here to Help!
As you transition to a lifestyle that supports health and reduces inflammation, we’re here to help you every step of the way! At The Wellness Way, we take a comprehensive approach to health restoration with our patients. Reach out to a clinic near you to get connected with our amazing network of skilled clinicians who can guide you on your journey to living your healthiest, most vibrant life.