Dairy friend or foe?

Dairy friend or foe?


Is going dairy free a good idea? Whenever this subject is opened you hear a lot of debate.

You find people who defend dairy as if it is a member of their family, while others who attack it as if it is their worst enemy…….

Let’s sit back and look at this in a more scientific way….

The USDA recommends adults have three cups of dairy per day; milk, cheese, and yogurt as they are rich sources of vitamin D, protein, and calcium, a critical nutrient for bone health.

True, milk provides a lot of calcium and other nutrients. Since dairy products (Milk, yogurt, cheese and butter…..) are such an important source of nutrients why are so many people attacking them? Well mainly because many people are intolerant to dairy products, you might be intolerant and not know it!

There are two different forms of milk intolerance;

  • Milk allergy: the person is allergic to the protein part of milk either casein which is present in the curd the solid part of milk or whey the protein in the watery part of milk (milk allergy is beyond the scope of this article)….
  • Lactose intolerance: when the person is lacking an enzyme called lactase which is responsible for the breaking down of the sugar lactose that is present in milk this causes symptoms which may include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, gas, and nausea.

In many people the production of lactase enzyme decreases with age after weaning, rates of lactose intolerance vary between regions, from less than 10% in Northern Europe to as high as 95% in parts of Asia and Africa….

Another point that backs up the idea of quitting dairy is that many researchers have found a possible association between dairy products and the increased risk of ovarian cancer in women, and prostate cancer in men.

For people who are allergic to milk or are lactose intolerant might want to know if there are replacements for the nutrients in dairy products.

Luckily, there are replacements for some of the nutrients found in dairy products. Calcium is found in dark leafy veggies like kale, and fatty fish like salmon and sesame tahini.

Unfortunately, only few foods contain vitamin D naturally; sources are limited to egg yolks, beef liver and fatty fish. Another way is exposure to the sun, or taking supplement with 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Looking at the two sides of the debate should we quit dairy altogether? Well I would give it a try. Say giving up all dairy (milk, cheese, lacking an enzyme yogurt, and ice cream…..) for about two weeks and see if you feel better.

If you can’t quit dairy altogether, try to use dairy products with low levels of lactose, such as yogurt (particularly Greek yogurt which is even lower in lactose), goat cheese, goat milk and hard cheeses. Stay healthy!!!!!!!