Ever since I went on my own endometriosis detox some 15+ years ago, I have avoided dairy. The evidence on why I should avoid it was fairly light…but honestly I was suffering so much and was determined to feel better that I stayed far away from anything that smelled iffy.
At first I missed my beloved cheesecake. But now, given how much better I felt and looked – I never look back
I talk about avoiding foods that you are sensitive to, from either doing a food sensitivity test or by paying attention to our body.
Having food sensitivities are not fun. It can cause abdominal pain, discomfort, and nausea. It also causes embarrassing symptoms like flatulence and diarrhea. It means you can’t digest them and you are upsetting your gut (which controls a lot of our body and mood – So I recommend not doing it). Other symptoms linked to food intolerance include muscle or joint pain, headaches, exhaustion, and even skin symptoms like rashes and eczema. These are linked to the immune response (IgG antibodies) that react with low grade inflammation.
Dairy is just one of those foods that many people seem to be intolerant of, but the symptoms and impacts go way beyond the gas and bloating.
Here are 3 Reasons You Should Think Twice Before Indulging That Cheese
Inflammation & Immune Impairment
Milk is a known, and common, food allergen. In Canada, it is considered a “priority allergen” and must be declared on food labels.
So, what are the allergens in milk? You’ve heard of “curds and whey?” Well, these are the two main proteins in milk. The solid bits are the curds (made of casein), and the liquid is the dissolved whey.
Unlike lactose intolerance, casein and whey can cause an actual immune response. It’s an allergy. And this immune response can cause inflammation. In fact, we don’t know how many people have these milk allergies, but more and more are feeling better without it.
Like lactose, these allergenic milk proteins can be found in other products too. They’re not just in dairy but are often in protein powders as well (Have you heard of “whey” protein powders?).
Some of the symptoms of milk protein allergy differ from that of lactose intolerance; things like nasal congestion and mucus (phlegm) are more common here. And casein seems to be linked with belly fat.
When we get more mucus in our body, our cells need to work harder at passing through the nutrients we actually need in our gut and our immune system gets congested. Low grade pain and fatigue are common and can be easily relieved by passing on the cheese.
Interestingly, people who have gluten intolerance are often allergic to milk proteins like whey and casein as well. These can go hand-in-hand.
Conventional dairy is farmed with cattle living in sub-optimal conditions, ingesting environmental toxins and often fighting health issues. The milk from these cattle, despite how sick they are, is allowed to be served to us – how? You may know better than me. The milk from these cattle contain high levels of toxins, xenoestrogens and hormones that wreak havoc on our delicate female hormones. This increases the inflammation and immune response that is already occuring.
Women who have estrogen dominance and other reproductive health issues are advised to reduce or avoid dairy altogether. And this also goes for breast cancer – as the consumption of dairy is linked to an increase risk in breast cancer rates.
Although, not as serious, having adult acne and PMS is often a sign of an underlying hormone issue and once you cut out dairy women notice an immediate difference. This is probably telling us that cutting it out is helping the underlying issue balance out also.
Milk sugar (lactose) intolerance
It’s estimated that up to 75% of adults are lactose intolerant. Lactose is the carbohydrate “milk sugar” naturally found in most dairy products. Lactose intolerance is so common you can buy lactose-free milk in your regular grocery store. Lactose-free products are treated with the enzyme “lactase” that breaks the lactose down before you ingest it. It’s this lactase enzyme that is lacking in most people who are lactose intolerant.
The lactase enzyme is naturally released from your intestine as one of your digestive enzymes. It breaks down the lactose sugar in the gut. When someone doesn’t have enough lactase, the lactose doesn’t get broken down the way it should. Undigested lactose ends up being food for the resident gut microbes. As they ferment the lactose, they create gases that cause bloating, flatulence, pain, and sometimes diarrhea.
Lactose is in dairy but is in lower amounts in fermented dairy (e.g. cheese & yogurt) and butter. Steering clear of lactose isn’t that easy as it is added to other foods like baked goods, soups, and sauces. And if you’re taking any medications or supplements, check to see if it’s in there too, as lactose is a common ingredient in them.
If you have symptoms of lactose intolerance, keep an eye on food, medication, and supplement labels.
If you get gassy, bloated, or diarrhea after eating dairy, you may have a lactose intolerance. If you often get a stuffy nose and mucus, then you may be allergic to casein and/or whey.
While dairy may be an entire food group, it is not an essential nutrient. All the nutrients in dairy are available in other foods. If you experience these symptoms, you can try removing dairy from your diet. You may find improved digestion and fewer gut issues. Or you may find improved nasal congestion, or even less belly fat.
If you decide to (or have already) removed dairy from your diet, let me know your experience in the comments below.
Recipe (Dairy-free): Chocolate Ice “Cream”
3 bananas, sliced and frozen
2 tsp cacao powder, unsweetened
1 tbsp almond butter
Place frozen bananas in food processor and blend until smooth (a few minutes). You may have to stop a few times to scrape the sides.
Add cacao powder and almond butter and blend until mixed well.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can make this in advance and freeze in an airtight container.