May 5, 2021

The problem with dairy products

by Andrea Richardson

Dairy products have been hailed as a nourishing food for generations and are considered essential for health, mainly due to its calcium content.  But now, many people are avoiding dairy to improve their health with great success.

What's special about dairy?

Dairy contains two unique compounds that can cause inflammation and symptoms in the human body.   They are:

  • Lactose - a sugar found in dairy products 
  • Casein & whey - proteins found in dairy products 

Lactose is found in human breastmilk, which babies are well suited to drink. However our ability to digest it reduces after infancy.  

It's estimated that 65% of adults have a reduced ability to digest dairy.  In some ethnic groups like Asian, West African, Arab, Jewish, Greek and Italian, this is even higher at 70-100%.  

The proteins in dairy (casein and whey), are slow and difficult to digest.  A strong digestive system is needed to break them down completely and if this is not possible, then large undigested particles enter the body causing inflammation and disease. 

Ensuring our body produces enough digestive juices and acids is important when restoring our health and disease prevention.  

Symptoms of dairy intolerance

Dairy intolerance can create many symptoms.  People may react to lactose or to the proteins or both.  Here are some of the symptoms that can arise: (1)(2)

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Coughing or shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Itching or tingling feeling around the lips or mouth

Diseases links to dairy products

Dairy products have been shown to cause inflammation in the body.  Studies have linked dairy to numerous health conditions: (3)(4)

  • Cardiovasular disease
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Bone loss / osteoperosis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Neurodegeneration

The risks of dairy consumption are well documented and one article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009) concluded; 

          "Vegetarians will most likely have healthier outcomes for a host of chronic diseases by limiting or avoiding milk and other dairy products. All nutrients found in milk are readily available in healthier foods from plant sources. Bones are better served by attending to calcium balance and focusing efforts on increasing fruit and vegetable intakes, limiting animal protein, exercising regularly, getting adequate sunshine or supplemental vitamin D, and getting ’500 mg Ca/d from plant sources"

Should we be avoiding all dairy products?

There is some good news, because not all dairy products are created equal and most people can continue to include some of these in their diets while healing.

Fermented dairy products like yoghurt, buttermilk, sour cream, kefir and some cheeses are often tolerated better. This is because the lactose and proteins are pre-digested by bacteria during the fermenting process, making is much less inflammatory.  

Butter, ghee (clarified butter) and cream are essential just fat and contain very little to no lactose or protein and are therefore low allergen.  In ayurvedic medicine ghee is promoted as a healing food and is suitable for most people.  Those with weak liver and digestive function may need to avoid these fats for longer. 

Lactose free dairy products are now available in some supermarkets and this allows people with lactose intolerance to eat it without symptoms. However, the milk still contains casein and whey, which should be avoided while healing.

Some milks contain easier to digest proteins, like A2 cows milk, goat, sheep and camel milk.  These may be better tolerated, but they should be tested to see if they are suitable.

Dairy free alternatives

Dairy free alternatives in supermarkets are growing, as more people make the shift, not just for health, but also for animals welfare.  

So, if we are prepared to switch to a plant-based alternative, then we don't need to give up ice cream or milk in our cereal.

If you'd like to learn more about restoring your health naturally, then take a look at the Cooling Habits Anti-inflammatory Program.  





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About the author

I was diagnosed with a painful auto-immune disease when I was 35 years old and I found a way to reverse the disease and become drug free. Now I teach others how to do the same.  When I don't have my head buried in a text book I enjoy, camping, spending time with family.

Andrea Richardson


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