Up until a few months ago, I was a yogurt and cheese addict. Creamy greek yogurt, flavorful aged cheeses, goat cheese, ahhh yum. (I haven’t cared for drinking milk in years.)

But then I went off dairy, cold turkey, just like that.  Here are my reasons why:

1) Improve Digestion. The primary sugar in milk (products) is lactose, which many people past the age of 3-4 can’t tolerate. Lactose intolerance is widespread among Asians and others who’ve become unaccustomed to eating dairy for generations. What is interesting is that many more people have some low level of lactose intolerance they’re not even aware of. Lactose intolerance can cause digestive discomfort like bloating and gas.

Consumption of lactose, in most people, leads to production of lectins. Lectins are proteins that bind to sugars and get really sticky, solid, and indigestible as they agglutinate (bind together) in the body. Many times these sticky lectins start to mimic a disease and the immune system starts attacking them. As the immune system works harder attacking what started out as food, it can overtax the immune system not letting work on real problems and in the long-term cause auto-immune disease.  What’s perhaps more scary is that these aggravating lectins can stay in the body for 10-15 days after a single consumption thus causing sticky indigestible particles to float around continually provoking the immune system.

Finally, in Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine), dairy is a known contributor to the formation of ama or toxins. Ama inhibits healthy cell development, disrupts digestion, and produces bad breath, skin irritation, mental confusion, and feelings of heaviness and malaise. Ama accumulates and can be difficult to clear out, particularly when more toxin-producing food is ingested.

So I cut dairy to reduce ama accumulation, to ease digestive discomfort, and to avoid producing aggravating lectins.

2) Normalize Elimination. Dairy is one of the unique foods that can cause both constipation and diarrhea. Have you ever thought about which foods bind and which loosen stools? Typically cheese is a prime culprit for constipation. We all know kids (or adults) who’ve eaten too much cheese and then can’t go #2 for a few days. Milk on the other hand, in large quantities, often acts a laxative, causing diarrhea or loose stools. Yes, I know from personal experience, hence the elimination of dairy.

But you may protest, as I did, non-fat plain greek yogurt is fermented, containing healthy bacteria and not causing the constipation/diarrhea problems of other dairy. And in this, you are probably right. I can’t speak for your body, though. Still, I’d point to the other reasons I eliminated dairy.

To normalize elimination, I stopped eating dairy and switched to an occasional probiotic-enzyme supplement.

3) Clear skin. The number of case studies of people who’ve cured their acne and/or seriously improved their complexion by eliminating dairy continues to rise. Most recently a college-age client I’ve been working with found that her acne medication did nothing for her skin, but yet cutting out dairy helped. This is true in my own skin as well: less dairy = clearer skin. Perhaps this is a factor of the ama (toxin) buildup seeking outlet or lectins inhibiting digestive function.

For clearer, blemish free skin, I eliminated dairy.

4) Faster bruise recovery. We’ve all bumped into a chair or bed or car door and found we have a bruise there the next day. It’s ugly and painful. Now what if eating dairy made you more likely to get a bruise and it to last longer? That’s a theory I heard and have confirmed myself. You can read more about dairy and bruising.

Black and blue marks disappear quicker since I don’t eat dairy.

5) Avoid hormones and chemicals. The factory-farming methods used to bring dairy to market include use of hormones, antibiotics, steroids, and other chemicals. These can end up in the milk, which then gets consumed and disrupts the vulnerable human body. The human endocrine system functions in a delicate balance while the introduction of other hormones can throw it off kilter. This seems to be especially problematic for women.

To keep my hormones in balance, I don’t consume dairy and its associated chemicals.

Milk really doesn’t do a body good.

So what’s a health conscious guy or gal to do?

  • Switch to almond, coconut, or hemp milk.
  • If you’re very sensitive, forget the yogurt and get over it–it is possible. If you miss the creamy factor, as I do, blend an avocado with a small amount of ice & tiny bit of almond milk until thick like yogurt.
  • Eat cheese only as an occasional indulgence and choose organic, aged, goat’s cheese.
  • For the sweet tooth, as an ice cream replacement, look for So Coconut Ice Cream.

 

What’s your take? Have you had the same experiences with dairy ? Are you willing to eliminate all dairy products from your diet?

Photo courtesy of flickr user: james.rintamaki

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