What’s the deal with dairy? Should we eat it? Is it really unhealthy? What are the best alternatives? There’s a lot of confusion surrounding whether or not you should keep dairy in your diet, so let’s dive in! Dairy is one of the top inflammatory trigger foods, alongside gluten, corn, soy, and sugar. In many people, it causes an inflammatory response, often leading to digestive problems like bloating, gas, constipation, and even skin issues like acne, dry skin and eczema.
The Ugly Truth
Believe it or not, less than 40% of people around the world can consume dairy products without showing some kind of symptom. This is in large part due to current (horrible) commercial farming practices worldwide, that only seem to get worse with time. In other words, it’s important to recognize that milk today is totally different than what your grandparents grew up drinking.
So, as you navigate whether or not dairy is appropriate for your own personal diet, here are some facts we thought you should know:
1. Dairy cows are injected with hormones and antibiotics
Unfortunately, similar to other conventionally raised animals, most cows in North America are injected with growth hormones and antibiotics that consequently end up the in dairy we buy at grocery stores. Moreover, they live in terrible conditions and are fed GMO corn and grains that are covered in glyphosate (toxic pesticide), rather than grass that they would naturally eat in the wild. We recommend that if you’re having dairy, choose dairy that is 100% grass-fed and organic. These cows are drug-free and have been fed organic (pesticide-free) grass. OR, choose alternatives, like coconut yogurt and nut milk!
2. Dairy is highly processed
Raw dairy is a living food that contains beneficial enzymes and antibodies. For those who tend to feel bloated, raw dairy is often a better option as it’s generally better tolerated in the digestive tract. You can find raw cheeses from your local cheese shop. Unfortunately, most of the dairy we buy at the grocery store has been pasteurized and processed to kill germs, also killing off its nutrients. Don’t even get us started on other dairy items, like yogurt and pre-shredded cheese. Shredded cheese contains cellulose to keep the shreds sticking together, which comes from particle board or cotton (FYI cotton is one of the most highly pesticided crops). Yogurt is often loaded with added sugars, artificial sugars, colours and flavouring agents!
PRO TIP: For those of you who are prone to bloating after consuming cheese, stay away from “newer” cheese like mozzarella, ricotta, cream cheese and whipped cream and stick to aged cheese such as fresh Parmesan (not the processed shakers off the shelf!).
3. There are alternative foods just as high in calcium
Calcium is essential not only for bone and dental health, but also plays a part in maintaining healthy blood pressure, heart health, body weight and more. For a long time, marketers and even doctors lead us to believe that milk was the best source of calcium we could get our hands on. The truth is, there are many other natural sources of calcium out there! Some examples you could add to your diet are almonds, almond milk, kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, coconut milk, and sesame seeds.
4. Dairy consumption can cause respiratory issues
Consuming milk and other dairy products has long been associated with an increase in mucous production and asthma. Studies show that A1 milk stimulates the gut glands and respiratory tract glands to produce excess phlegm, irritating the back of the throat. The research and opinions here are mixed, but these respiratory symptoms are often reported by those with dairy allergies/sensitivities, so it’s best to avoid dairy altogether for these groups.
5. Skim milk is not a healthy choice
From skinny lattes to low fat yogurt to half and half creamers, skim milk is a popular choice for some health and weight conscious people. But it’s not as healthy as you might think! Not only is skim milk the higher sugar choice, but it’s also highly processed and doesn’t contain any nutritional value. The vitamins found in milk (A, D, E + K) are fat soluble, meaning they need fat to be present to have any positive effect on our body. If you’re going to put cream in your coffee, for example, use a small amount of full fat cream. The skim versions (even half and half creamers) contain things like carrageenan and skim milk powder which are bad for our health!
If you’re someone who experiences negative symptoms after dairy consumption, it’s worth looking into and taking it out of your diet. Optimizing digestion is one of Dr. Bhat’s favourite topics, especially as she herself has suffered from digestion woes! If you or someone you know is suffering, check out our 21-Day Clean Gut Detox program where she goes in depth with all her tips and tricks on bio-hacking digestion!
About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine
Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.