Many of our engaged and curious clients take time to write to us with questions, hoping for a deeper understanding of how to make smarter choices for their health. A common question came in recently: Is dairy really bad for you? The short answer is, ‘probably,’ but let’s get into the details.
Dairy: Is it good for you? Doctor’s Thoughts!
Why Dairy is Bad for You
A long time ago, the cows in parts of northern Europe went through a genetic mutation causing their milk to become full of a lectin-like protein known as casein A1. Once you ingest casein A1, it transforms in your body to become a new protein. This new protein is called beta-casomorphin and can cause autoimmune problems including diabetes. In fact, many people who complain of lactose intolerance and its symptoms are actually struggling from casein A1 intolerance.
In southern Europe, several cowherds never went through the genetic mutation, so they create a different protein called casein A2. Casein A2 is better for you and is not turned into the catastrophic protein, casomorphin.
Dairy is often called nature’s perfect food, but that’s only if you’re a calf. Dairy was evolutionarily created for cows and not for human consumption. If that sounds shocking to you, it’s because very few people are willing to tell the truth about dairy. Criticizing milk in America is like trying to go against classics like apple pie or baseball.
Going against dairy is what we have to do based on the research though. Based on my experience practicing medicine, I advise most of my patients to avoid dairy products completely. I like ice cream and yogurt as much as the next person, but as a physician, I have to look honestly at what is known about dairy. From an evolutionary standpoint, milk is a very strange food for humans.
Consider this: the majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme needed to metabolize lactose, between the ages of two and five. In fact, the normal condition for most mammals is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest milk from the mother after they’ve been weaned.
5 Reasons to Stop Consuming Dairy
- Milk does not reduce fractures. That’s why we’re always told to drink it, right? For “strong, healthy bones.” Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the nurses’ health study, dairy may increase the risk of fractures by 50%.
- Less dairy actually means better bones. Countries with the lowest rates of dairy consumption, like those living in Africa and Asia, have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
- Calcium doesn’t protect our bones the way we once thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk, and vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures. Focus on vitamin D instead by leaving your house or office and getting more sunlight.
- Calcium supplementation may increase cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer between 30% to 50%. Dairy consumption also increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which a known cancer promoter.
- Calcium has health benefits that dairy does not, like reducing the risk of colon cancer. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75% of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products, which is lactose intolerance.
Don’t rely on dairy for healthy bones. If you want healthy bones, get plenty of exercise, sunshine, and supplement with vitamin D. Get your calcium from other food sources like leafy green vegetables, broccoli, sesame, tahini, sea vegetables, sardines, and fish. All of these are excellent sources of calcium and don’t have the bad effects that dairy does.
Test Your Dairy Tolerance with an Elimination Diet
Try giving up all dairy by eliminating milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for two weeks and see if you feel better. You should notice improvements in your sinuses, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, energy levels, and weight. After the two weeks is finished, start eating dairy again and see how you feel again. If you feel worse, you should give up dairy for life.
If you can tolerate dairy, use only raw, organic dairy products. Try focusing on fermented products like yogurt and kefir, but only for occasional consumption. A great substitute for dairy products is coconut products like coconut milk, yogurt, butter, and fermented options. Coconut has some tremendous positive benefits without causing the problems that dairy does.
Overall, is dairy bad for most people? Probably. There’s a small percentage of people, like 10% to 25%, who are fine with dairy, but I encourage you to try the elimination diet mentioned above. Take all dairy out of your diet for a couple of weeks, reintroduce it, and see the difference avoiding dairy makes.
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I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!