Dairy - is it okay to eat?

And if so, what kind is best?

Ooh I love dairy...

Butter, cheese, ice-cream.  I used to skull back big glasses of milk when I was younger and can easily eat slices of butter on their own.  And cheese is my happy place. 

 

But, unbeknownst to myself, dairy was actually an issue for me - I kept getting break-outs, even in my 30’s and knew something was up.  I had read that dairy could be the culprit but was too attached to it’s creamy goodness to imagine giving it up.  But after a while, I knew it was worth a try. 

It was a tough divorce, but after two weeks, I was amazed – my skin cleared up.  No more break outs.  Hallelujah!  I couldn’t believe all the thousands of dollars I had spent on products and skins specialists over the years, only to find out dairy was the culprit all along. 

 

Around the same time, we noticed my son was having a lot of allergy issues and decided to cut out his dairy as a trial too.  Amazingly his allergies disappeared.  

So could dairy be an issue for you too?  Read on..

So, what’s the problem with dairy?

 

Well, one of the things that really strikes me is that are we meant to be drinking and consuming something that is meant for a baby calf?  When you really think about that, it does seem quite odd.  As humans, do we really need to be constantly consuming something meant for a bovine and also feeding it to our own babies?

 

Dairy can also contribute to allergies, sinus problems, asthma, ear infections, type 1 diabetes, constipation, digestive issues and low iron.

 

The majority of dairy out there also contains hormones, additives, pesticides, antibiotics etc. which we are then consuming and will most likely interfere with our body’s function.

 

Plus, most milk in the supermarkets has undergone quite a process once it comes from the cow.  Such as:

 

Pasteurisation

 

This is the process of heating the milk and then cooling it down quickly which helps to eliminate some bacteria and make some enzymes inactive.  It, however, does not kill all micro-organisms in the milk.   But, ultimately, it kills good AND bad bacteria.

  

Homogenisation

 

This breaks down the fat molecules in the milk so that they do not separate.  Without this there will be a layer of cream on the top. 

 

Homogenising will break down the molecules to a small size so that they remain suspended throughout the milk instead of rising to the top.  It also means the milk has a longer shelf life.  This process can negatively affect the nutritional benefits of the milk and flavour.

 

However, there is a theory that by reducing the size of the fat molecules this makes the fat easier to absorb by our bodies.

What about the calcium and Vitamin D for our bones?

 

There is actually no evidence that dairy is good for your bones or prevents osteoporosis.  In fact, the animal protein it contains may help cause bone loss due to it being full of saturated fat, meaning it can also contribute to heart disease. 

 

My kids very rarely have dairy, and yet none of them have had a broken bone (yet – knock on wood).  Plus, Vitamin D can be obtained by 10 minutes or so in the sun (on inner arms or belly, no sunscreen) or a vitamin D supplement may help.

What to look for in dairy products

 

If you are eating dairy, try selecting the following:

  • Whole – go for full fat, not low fat, powdered or fat free

 

  • Cheese – choose cheese in block form, not shredded, dips or in strips etc as these usually have an anti-caking agent in them.  Fermented cheeses like blue vein are also a good option.  Definitely avoid things like things like Le Snaks and cheese slices too.

 

  • Organic – this means the cows haven’t been treated with hormones and antibiotics or consumed foods that have been sprayed with synthetic fertilisers or pesticides, which in the end all gets stored in their fat cells and ends up in the product we consume.

  • Raw – go for raw milk or butter as this is full of many beneficial bacterias.  Many people who have issues with dairy cope fine on the raw kind.  Raw dairy can be found at some farmers markets or search on line.

 

  • Pastuerised (milk) – look for products that are pastureised at a lower temperature and avoid UHT as this has even less beneficial bacteria.

 

  • Non-homogenised (milk) – opt for non-homogenised when you can.

 

  • Plain Yoghurt – always go for full-fat and plain – add your own flavourings at home, like frozen fruit etc, so you can control how much sugar goes in.

  • Butter - organic is best or full fat.  Ghee (clarified butter) is another good option.  Avoid margarines, Olivani and other butter alternatives. 

Ways to cut out dairy

 

If you are wanting to cut out dairy, here's a few tips to get you started:

  • Start reading your labels and be aware of what products contain milk products.

  • Switch to a dairy alternative milk like almond or rice milk.  Do a mixture of cow’s milk and an alternative milk so that you get used to the taste.  Start slowly removing the cows milk until you are fully switched over to the alternative milk.

  • When choosing alternative milks, make sure you read your labels first though and aren’t buying milks containing sugar, flavours etc. which is in many almond and rice milks.  Go for organic if you can – Macro Organic or Australia’s Own are good brands.  Alternatively, you could try making your own almond milk which is very easy to do – search online.

  • Try coconut ice-creams or making frozen banana ice-cream as a great dairy-free alternative - put chopped frozen bananas in a food processor and whiz until an ice-cream consistency is made.  And in nuts, dried fruit etc for extra flavouring.

  • Use Savory Yeast as a cheese alternative or make cashew cheese.  Mixing olive oil with crushed almonds is a great topping for dishes too.

  • Try having coconut yoghurt instead of dairy yoghurt.

Dairy-free calcium alternatives

Dairy isn’t your only way to get calcium. These following foods provide a great supply:

 

  • Seeds

  • Sardines

  • Canned salmon

  • Beans and lentils

  • Almonds

  • Whey protein

  • Spinach

  • Kale

  • Amaranth

  • Edamame

  • Tofu

  • Figs

  • Many milk alternatives provide calcium

If you think dairy may be an issue for you, try cutting it out for a 2-4 weeks and see if you feel a difference.  Plus the cows will thank you too.

Wanting more support on how to lose weight, gain energy and balance your hormones?  Check out my Health Happy You programme here.

Want to control cravings & make healthy food choices?