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Dairy is a great source of nutrition, if you’re a calf. But for humans, dairy can be quite problematic and I generally advise my patients to avoid it completely.

Here’s why:

  • In one study, dairy consumption at age 20 was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture in old age.
  • Countries with the lowest rates of dairy consumption also have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. Think Asia and Africa.
  • Research shows that higher intakes of calcium and dairy may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30-50%.

I know, I know, the “milk does a body good” and “got milk?” campaigns have told you that calcium from dairy is good for your bones. However, this was just a promotion by dairy companies to increase sales. In fact, studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. Vitamin D is actually shown to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.

In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, 75% of the world is lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerant people can’t digest caseins, the main protein found in milk. This can lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain, flatulence, and/or bloating after ingesting dairy. But caseins also cause inflammation, leading to symptoms such as congestion, ear infections, sinus infections, headaches, fatigue, and even rashes like eczema.

How do you know if you’re lactose intolerant? Test it. The gold standard is an elimination diet of all dairy for at least three weeks. If you are lactose intolerant, you should notice an improvement in your symptoms. You may notice your sinuses are more clear, your headache is gone, your IBS is decreased, you have more energy, or even that you’ve lost weight. Then, after three weeks, try reintroducing dairy. If your symptoms come back, you should eliminate dairy from your diet.

Overall, I recommend avoiding dairy, especially if you’re lactose intolerant. Consuming dairy can lead to an increase of both cancer and fracture risk, constipation, IBS, diarrhea, gas, allergies, eczema and acne. I think it’s safe to say, these are all things we’d like to avoid.

If you’re feeling like it’s impossible to completely avoid dairy try eating goat or sheep dairy instead of cow dairy. Many people find these easier to digest. Why? Goat and sheep dairy contain far less A1 beta-casein, the most inflammatory casein found in cow dairy, and far more A2 beta-casein, the easier to digest form of casein.

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