Many people believe there are only two real reasons why others give up dairy products. The first, of course, is veganism, or a diet that contains no animal products at all. The second is lactose intolerance, which occurs when the body cannot properly digest lactose, the sugar found in milk products. However, there are other reasons why that milk might not do the body good, and some will surprise you.
All your life, you’ve been taught that you need to drink a lot of milk to get the calcium your body needs. While it’s true that milk, yogurt, and cheese contain lots of calcium, it’s the absorbable calcium that counts, and that’s what your body needs. Whole milk has a vitamin D additive, which boosts calcium absorption, but whole milk is laden with fat that you may be trying to avoid. Instead, try consuming kale, either by itself or in a smoothie. It contains roughly 20% more calcium than milk, and your body will absorb 30% more of it thanks to the natural stores of vitamin D in the kale.
Acne is caused by clogged pores, and while many experts claim that diet has absolutely nothing to do with blemishes on the skin, there’s science proving otherwise. In fact, a study from researchers at Dartmouth titled “Nutrition and Acne” suggests that the hormones found in milk can make acne worse. What’s more, switching to organic milk won’t help. While this milk comes from cows that do not receive exogenous hormones, naturally-produced hormones still exist in small quantities – and pasteurization does not affect them.
People who are lactose intolerant aren’t the only ones who experience gas, bloating, and diarrhea after consuming dairy products. In fact, a study published in Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology back in 2012 discovered that 75% of the human population lacks the enzyme needed to break down dairy products. Those people experience many different digestive issues. The most common of these is gas and bloating, but others can experience significant diarrhea, as well.
Dairy products of all types are laden with fat, but it’s not the fat that’s causing you to gain weight. In fact, it’s the sugar. Milk and cheeses don’t taste sweet, but they’re packed with the sugar lactose that your body can easily convert to fat stores. When you give up dairy, you’re also giving up hundreds of calories from sugar, and you may find yourself shedding some pounds in just a couple weeks’ time.
Harvard researchers took a look at dairy products at the molecular level, and what they found was quite surprising. Milk and other dairy products contain several bioactive ingredients that may increase your risk of cancer. One study from Harvard found that men were 34% more likely to contract prostate cancer during their lives if they consumed two or more servings of dairy per day, compared to their counterparts who consumed very little or no dairy products.
Much like smoking, consuming dairy can be habitual and even addictive. This means that if you splurge on ice cream a few days in a row, then try to go without consuming dairy products for a day, your body will miss it – and it will let you know, too. Your cravings become intense and you may even experience malaise and fatigue if you’re one of the 75% of people who lack the proper enzymes to digest dairy. When you give up dairy altogether, your body will need time to adjust.
People who suffer from chronic migraines cut things out of their diets until they can successfully reduce the number of migraine days they experience each month. Common culprits include caffeine, MSG, artificial sweeteners, and even chocolate. However, dairy is often overlooked, which can keep people in pain. The worst dairy product? Surprisingly enough, it’s not milk – it’s cheese. Tyramine, a compound found in aged cheeses, especially, is one of the worst migraine triggers of them all. Even if you don’t give up dairy completely, if you suffer from migraines, you should remain conscious of the types of cheese you consume.
Just as the hormones found in milk have been scientifically proven to increase a man’s chance of contracting prostate cancer, those same hormones may also lead to ovarian cancer. A study conducted in Sweden in 2004 and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that women were more than twice as likely to develop ovarian cancer if they consumed four or more servings of dairy per day. Women, especially, are advised to consume dairy for its calcium, which puts them at significant risk.
In an effort to keep milk and milk-based products (like cheese, ice cream, and yogurt) safe for consumption, and to boost their own profits by avoiding the death of their livestock due to bacterial infections, cattle farmers will often give their cows antibiotics – even when they aren’t necessary. This has played a significant role in the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can be fatal in people and animals alike.
They say milk does a body good, but these studies and facts show that it may be best to give up dairy. While dairy is fine for the occasional treat, it’s important to remember to take your dietary calcium from other sources – especially those that also contain vitamin D – and to get a little sunshine each day to boost your own production of vitamin D.