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Giving up dairy foods can be an intimidating undertaking. Dairy products are present in everything from cheese on a slice of pizza to a splash of cream in a cup of coffee. It can feel impossible to avoid it. But for many people, the benefits of giving up dairy are worth the effort! Let’s unpack those benefits. 

Giving up Dairy is a Beneficial Dietary Choice

The health benefits of giving up dairy are extensive and well-documented. Research shows that cow’s milk containing A1 beta casein stimulates mucus production. This happens in the gut and respiratory tract. [1] Eliminating dairy from the diet can result in improved respiratory health. Cutting your dairy intake can also result in fewer sinus issues. 

For those with lactose intolerance, avoiding dairy altogether often results in restoring digestive function. It can also reduce unpleasant symptoms like stomach aches, gas, and diarrhea. But is intolerance the right word? Are we correctly labeling what is happening here? If the immune response is trying to eliminate the irritant from the body, that is much more than an “intolerance.” 

In our clinics, dairy is one of the most common allergies we see come up on patient tests. This includes 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. This is why The Wellness Way guides our patients through calming inflammatory responses. These responses can take place throughout the entire body. Testing for food allergies is a critical step in that process. 

Why Would You Give Up Dairy?

Maybe the question should be, why do we drink cow’s milk dairy? Does it make sense to drink the milk that was designed to grow a baby calf into a 2,000-pound animal? Milk was made for baby cows, not humans. Does that sound like milk is good for you? There are a few health reasons you would want to skip dairy.

  1. Allergies – Dairy is one of the most common IgE allergies for children and one of the most common IgG food allergies we see come up on patient tests. Many aren’t as familiar with this allergy because, unlike the IgE allergy, the reaction isn’t immediate. When people aren’t aware, it can lead to hidden inflammation.
  2. Inflammation – Dairy is a very inflammatory food, even if you aren’t allergic to it, and should be avoided in a non-inflammatory diet. Dairy is linked to increased acne, rosacea, and eczema, which is inflammation of the skin. Long-term inflammation can lead to chronic illness.
  3. Lactose Intolerance – Lactose intolerance is different than a milk allergy. Lactose intolerance is when your body doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme to break down dairy. About 65% of adults have a reduced capacity to digest milk products. Eating foods that you can’t digest will really mess up your gut microbiome.

What are the Benefits? 

Less Acne

Among other things, acne can be an inflammatory condition. As stated above, dairy causes inflammation if you’re allergic to it. This is why cutting your dairy intake to bring down inflammation can help acne clear up. 

Rosacea and eczema are also inflammatory skin conditions. These “chronic” health concerns don’t have to be chronic. 

A study published in Clinics in Dermatology looked into this. It studied the effects of anabolic steroids and growth hormones in milk. The study’s results indicated that these can stimulate the development of acne. [2] Patients have reported better skin when put on a diet adjusted to their food allergies. As mentioned above, this can–and often does–include dairy. 

Weight Loss

This goes back to the fact that dairy causes inflammation in some people. Your immune system reacts to inflammation within the body the same as it reacts if you slam a finger in the door. One of these reactions is swelling—that’s the immune system responding to a trigger. When the organs and tissues inside your body swell, they have nowhere to go but out. This is what is generally called bloating. Decreased weight and girth can be an anti-inflammatory effect of less dairy consumption. 

Dairy also has a good amount of sugar in it. As U.S. Dairy says, the sugar in milk is from the naturally-occurring lactose. [3] It isn’t an added sugar. This means whether you’re getting full-fat dairy products, low-fat milk, or no-fat milk. 

This shouldn’t be seen as the one-stop shop for ending obesity. We do, though, speak from what we’ve seen as clinical results. Some people lose weight fast. Others may not lose weight. Instead, it may be easier to build muscle, or they see an increase in energy. 

Improved Digestion and Gut Health

Dairy is a very common IgG allergy response. These aren’t often noticed as reactions. This is because the reactions don’t happen immediately. That doesn’t mean the reactions don’t happen, or that the allergies aren’t there. Cutting out these allergies will improve your wellness. Yes, no matter how many ‘important nutrients’ they have.  

Some people are lactose intolerant. This means their enzyme lactase is too low to properly digest dairy. This can also affect your gut. If your body doesn’t properly prepare a substance for the rest of the GI tract, that, too, can cause inflammation. For example, it’s good that you eat proteins. But what happens if you don’t have enough stomach acid? Stomach acid breaks down those proteins into amino acids. It also sterilizes the food in your stomach for the next leg of the trip. If you don’t have enough to properly prepare your food for your small intestine, it sees those proteins similar to as it would see a virus. And, because your body always responds the way it’s supposed to, it acts against them like they are an intruder, like a virus. Your body doesn’t make mistakes. This is actually proven by the fact that autoimmune disorders exist. 

A lot happens in the gut. These processes impact everything from digestion to brain health. If your immune system reacts to the presence of dairy, and inflammation flares up, this can impact you a lot. This can include how you digest other foods, as well. If the gut is inflamed, it may be causing symptoms you don’t think link to your gut. 

Better Mental Health

Did you know that serotonin is produced largely in your gut? So, if your gut is inflamed it won’t produce as much serotonin. While you can supplement with prescription meds and pills, there are pros and cons with that, too. Lowering inflammation biomarkers? Restoring health, and allowing your body to start making it as it’s supposed to? That’s the optimal situation. 

What About Goat and Sheep Milk?

People who aren’t lactose intolerant but have a dairy allergy are often reacting to the A1 casein 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. It also has greater availability of iron, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Sheep’s milk is higher in vitamin B12, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and magnesium than either cow’s or goat’s milk. It’s also rich in sodium, magnesium, iron, iodine, phosphorus, and vitamin D, B9, B7, B3, A, E, and K. [4]

That 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 testing we conduct in our clinics differentiates between types of milk allergies. It will also test for allergies to other ingredients like almonds or coconut. These are common ingredients in dairy replacement products. These may also need to be avoided. 

But So-and-So Says Dairy Isn’t Linked to Inflammation!

Some websites and groups say dairy isn’t inflammatory. Clinical trials have even shown it to be anti-inflammatory. Even in cases of metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes. Therefore, these groups argue, it is not linked to heart disease or anything else. 

While, for some people, this is true, one size does not fit all in any realm of health. Kefir might help or hurt someone’s gut health, depending on what is going on inside. A Mediterranean diet may help someone for a short time. That doesn’t negate the fact that diets should not be a long-term, or blanket solution. 

Everyone’s bodies have different allergies and different thresholds for stress. They also have different reasons for the symptoms you may be experiencing. Don’t depend on a popular blog post or authority to tell you what is right or wrong for your body. Especially when they haven’t seen your labs or how your Swiss watch is functioning. 

Get your allergies and gut tested. Find out what is necessary for your body. Contact a Wellness Way clinic, today! 

References

  1. Does Milk Increase Mucus Production?: NIH 
  2. Nutrition and acne: ScienceDirect 
  3. Does Milk Have Sugar?: Undeniably Dairy 
  4. Cow, goat, or sheep: which is the best milk?: Gurze 

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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