For most people, the thought of giving up dairy is blasphemy. A life without cheese is not worth living! Yet more and more people are seeing the light and removing diary from their diet.
As you’ll see, there are so many downsides to consuming dairy and countless dairy alternatives that it really is a no-brainer to make the switch.
Dairy is addictive
Do you ever wonder why dairy has this hold over so many people?
It’s because dairy is addictive. Milk contains a protein called casein, which has opiate molecules built into it so babies will want to return to their mother to get their nutrition. These molecules are called casomorphins. Yes, that’s “morphin” like “morphine”.
Dr. Neal Barnard said in his book The Cheese Trap, “A cup of milk contains about 7.7 grams of protein, 80 percent of which is casein, more or less. Turning it into Cheddar cheese multiplies the protein count seven-fold, to 56 grams. It is the most concentrated form of casein in any food in the grocery store.
Call it dairy crack.”
Little did we know that when we have that extra cheese on our pizza or one more scoop of ice cream, we’re giving our brain a hit of something we didn’t even know we were addicted to.
And it’s not just the addiction to dairy that’s dangerous. Dairy can bring on several health issues.
Negative Affects of Eating Dairy
Dairy and bone fractures
Growing up, we are told to drink our milk to build strong bones. However, several studies have shown that drinking milk does not reduce bone fractures, but it actually does the opposite!
Our bodies like to maintain a neutral pH balance: not too much acidity, not too much alkalinity. Like most animal products, milk is an acid forming food that forces your body to compensate to restore a neutral pH balance. To do this it’ll pull from the alkaline reserves it stores in the form of calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are stored in your bones, leaving them weak and prone to fractures.
Dairy and digestive issues
It seems like more and more people are realizing they are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a sugar found in milk that is supposed to be broken down by the small intestine and absorbed into the body.
If your body is unable to do that effectively, you might have bloating, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain and gas after consuming dairy, which can lead to irritable bowel syndrome.
Dairy and cancer
Scary, right? Eating and drinking dairy increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which has been linked to the growth of cancer cells. Calcium and galactose, which are also in dairy in high doses, have been considered to cause cancer as well.
Dairy and inflammation
Dairy is a common allergen that can result in an inflammatory response from the body. On top of that, dairy can mess with the good bacteria in our gut that serve to reduce inflammation.
Why do we care if we’re inflamed? Inflammation can cause chronic pain, weight gain and heart disease, just to name a few.
Dairy and acne
Many of the affects we’ve already touched on about dairy actually cause acne as well. An increase in hormones, poor digestion, and inflammation all contribute to breakouts.
Chances are you’re currently dealing with at least one of the health issues right now. And I’m not saying it was caused by dairy or that eliminating dairy from your diet will cure your ailments, but why wouldn’t you want to give your body the best chance possible?
Cutting out dairy will make it so your body has to fight one less enemy and it can focus its energy in other areas to keep you healthy.
These days, there are alternatives for every form of dairy out there so eliminating dairy from your diet will not have to feel like a sacrifice. You’ll still be able to have all the cheese, ice cream and butter you want (though to be truly healthy you’ll want to cut back on those…but that’s for another blog post).
Here’s a list of items that are typically made with dairy but can easily be found in non-dairy form in any major grocery store.
- Milk — With so many options available, you are bound to find a milk substitute you like. You can choose from rice, almond, coconut, oat, flax, hazelnut, hemp, soy, sunflower, cashew, etc.
- Cheese — Even if you’re a cheese snob and have to have your fancy cheeses, you won’t be left out in the cold if you cut out dairy. You can still have your smoked gouda, muenster, brie, camembert, queso, pepper jack, parmesan, and more!
- Butter — Brands like Earth Balance make great vegan butter options, and even I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter came out with a dairy-free option!
- Ice Cream — Some of the more common non-dairy ice creams you’ll see are made with almond, coconut or cashew milk. My favorite is the So Delicious Dairy Free Salted Caramel Cluster made with cashew milk… so good.
- Yogurt — Similar to ice cream, you’re likely to have easy access to non-dairy yogurt made from almond milk or coconut milk. I prefer yogurt made with coconut milk because it’s a bit sweeter.
- Coffee Creamer — You never want to get in between someone and their morning coffee. Thankfully, ditching dairy won’t interrupt you because you can probably find non-dairy coffee creamer right next to the dairy one you used to buy.
- Cream Cheese — If you cut out dairy, what will you put on your bagel?! Don’t worry, you’ll likely have no problem finding non-dairy cream cheese made from coconut or soy. If you’re feeling creative, you can even make some at home!
- Sour Cream — Follow Your Heart makes a non-dairy sour cream that may just trick you into thinking you’re eating the dairy version! Or, like the cream cheese, ice cream or milk, you could make some yourself!
With so many non-dairy alternatives and so many negative health affects tied to dairy, there’s just one question to ask yourself: When are you going to make the switch?
Have you given up dairy? What is your favorite part about not eating dairy anymore?
Are you thinking about making the switch to non-dairy alternatives? What’s the best benefit you hope to gain?