You don’t need milk or cheese to be healthy: find out why you should go dairy-free
I stopped eating dairy five years ago and health wise, it’s been one of the best decisions I ever made. Dairy products can be delicious, however if you care about your health, the environment, or the wellbeing of animals, they’re not ideal.
“But… don’t you need to drink milk to have strong bones? What about calcium, protein, and all the other nutrients it provides? And even if I wanted to eliminate dairy, there’s no way I can stop eating cheese — it tastes amazing!”
I used to think the same, but changed my mind. In this article I am going to share twelve reasons to go dairy-free (even if you love ice cream, butter, or pizza). If you want a short list of all the reasons, feel free to skip to the summary the end of the article.
Most people are lactose intolerant. Many studies have shown that at least 65 percent of the global population has trouble digesting and absorbing lactose.
Though some people are able to ingest milk, cheese, or any other dairy product and absorb them, they still experience issues such as bloating or headaches. So technically, they are still lactose intolerant.
If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you may have been advised to either reduce your dairy intake or take supplements, such as enzymes or probiotics. However my advice would be to eliminate dairy completely.
As we’ll see in a bit, it’s an artificial food, and it’s not healthy. If the only reason you are consuming dairy is because “it tastes good”, then you should probably switch to alternatives (more on this later).
2. It’s an artificial food
No other animals on this planet consume milk once they become adults. The truth is that dairy is an artificial food, and human beings are not supposed to assume it besides during their first years of life.
Lactose intolerance is only natural: after the weaning phase, lactase (the enzyme that allows you to digest milk) gradually decreases because it’s not needed anymore. This is a natural process, and should not be considered a disease.
It is now recognized that humans who are able to ingest dairy without any digestive issues do so because of a genetic mutation: as an adaptive process, some populations developed a gene that would allow them to digest milk as adults.
This mutation has been called lactase persistence. It is more common in certain areas such as Northern Europe and the US, and almost non-existent in Asia.
Many people experience outbreaks after consuming dairy products. Conversely, many have noticed that when they stop eating dairy, their skin naturally becomes clearer and smoother.
One of the possible reasons could be that dairy stimulates the production of hormones such as insulin, which is not ideal for those who suffer from acne.
Another reason could be the high amount of saturated fats. Or, the fact that cows are fed hormones. Whatever the case, many studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between dairy consumption and acne.
If you want clear, radiant skin, you should probably cut out all dairy products from your diet.
4. Digestive issues
As we’ve seen, most people are unable to digest lactose after the weaning phase. So when they do eat milk, cheese, yogurt, or any other dairy product, they can experience symptoms including:
- Loose motions
- Stomach pains
Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, you may have noticed that right after eating dairy you experience one or some of these uncomfortable symptoms.
This is actually the main reason I stopped eating dairy: I would get stomach pains after consuming it, especially milk. My body was basically telling me it was a harmful food, so it made sense to cut it out from my diet. Then, after a while, I discovered all the negative effects of dairy (the ones explained in this article), which confirmed I should stay away from it.
5. Dairy alternatives
Do you love the taste of ice cream, milk, or cake? Thankfully, you don’t need to give them up completely. There are now many dairy alternatives that are cheap and taste amazing.
When it comes to milk, you are literally spoilt for choice. Vegan alternatives include coconut, almond, soy, rice, hazelnut, pea, hemp, peanut, and oat drinks. They are delicious and very easy to digest.
When it comes to other dairy products, such as cheese, then you could replace them by simply being more creative. For example, if you eat pasta with Parmesan cheese, you can replace it with a vegan alternative made with cashew nuts, salt, and yeast; if you like yogurt you can replace it with coconut kefir.
Not all ice cream flavors contain milk, and the same is true for biscuits or cake: you don’t need any dairy products to enjoy your favorite dessert. There are now many vegan patisseries all over the world, including La Besnéta in Barcelona and VG Pâtisserie in Paris.
Dairy is important for calcium intake and strong bones, right?
Not exactly. Many studies show that in countries where dairy consumption is high, osteoporosis is actually more common. One of the main reasons we believe milk is so important for bone health is because the dairy industry has told us so.
Plus, to have strong bones you should have optimal levels of not only calcium, but also other minerals such as magnesium and potassium. To build strong bones, you also want to make sure you exercise and get enough sunlight (for vitamin D).
Many believe dairy is the only source of calcium, but there’s many other foods that can provide plenty of calcium: green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and kale), beans, sardines, and calcium-fortified foods.
7. The dairy industry
Not all cows used for milk production are abused, however in most cases they are. The truth is that in general, the dairy industry doesn’t care about how animals are raised or treated, and profit seems to be the only goal.
Cruel practices adopted by the dairy industry include but are not limited to forceful impregnation, mutilations, dehorning, and confinement. In most cases, the cows live a horrible life, and are killed as soon as they are no longer able to produce enough milk.
Because this process is very unnatural, cows are usually fed hormones and antibiotics, which can make them — and whoever consumes dairy products — sick (more on this later).
You may not care about the negative health effects of dairy on your own body, but unfortunately ethics are involved as well.
8. Inflammation and cancer
While the general consensus seems to be that dairy doesn’t cause inflammation, many notice a correlation between the two.
For example, many athletes found that drinking milk would cause a lot of inflammation in their body, and decided to stop drinking milk to improve their training and athletic performance. There is also evidence that dairy is likely to cause inflammation if you are lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant, or have digestive issues.
As for cancer prevention: there is research suggesting that casein promotes cancer. Many studies have shown that the consumption of high amounts of dairy can significantly increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer.
As we’ve seen, you don’t have to drink milk or eat cheese to have optimal levels of calcium or protein, so if you care about your overall health, it makes all the sense in the world to go dairy-free.
9. Hormones and antibiotics
In order to increase the production of milk, the cows are fed hormones. Moreover, because of forceful impregnation, their estrogen levels are constantly high.
This means that whenever we consume dairy products, we may also consume such hormones, which may interfere with our own. As if that wasn’t enough, cows are given high doses of antibiotics.
As a result, the cows develop high levels of the IGF-1 hormone, and when humans drink milk, their levels of IGF-1 also increases. As we’ve seen, this can increase the risk of getting prostate or breast cancer.
If you suffer from recurrent or chronic tonsillitis, then you should stop eating dairy. Many people have been able to completely cure their chronic tonsillitis by cutting out milk and cheese from their diet.
Not only does dairy increase the production of mucus, it also increases the chances of developing tonsil stones. Casein — the main protein component found in dairy — tends to harden bacteria and food residue, so they are more likely to get stuck in your tonsils.
If you or someone you know suffers from tonsillitis, try to eliminate all dairy products from your diet before considering more drastic solutions such as tonsillectomy. Something as simple as stopping eating cheese could help you get rid of tonsillitis for good.
11. The environment
This can be a controversial topic, however it’s clear that the way cows are used for dairy production is not sustainable.
The dairy industry contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and uses enormous amounts of water to both water the cows and grow the crops used to feed them.
Though dairy farmers are now finding ways to reduce waste and gas emissions, it’s important that we are aware of the impact dairy has (and is going to have) on our environment.
By eliminating or reducing dairy consumption, and switching to food systems that are more sustainable, we can help prevent an environmental crisis without much effort.
12. Casein addiction
When it comes to eating healthy, most people have no trouble giving up junk food, however they say they are addicted to cheese, and can’t cut it out from their diet. Many vegetarians say they would like to stop eating all animal products, but there’s no way they can say no to cheese.
Why is that? Well, apparently casein can be extremely addictive. Casein can trigger the brain’s opioids receptors, which can make you feel slightly more relaxed, or euphoric. When calves get milk from cows, they feel a sense of wellbeing, and the same is true for us when we consume dairy.
Casein is found in all dairy products, however cheese has the highest casein concentration — that’s why some people can’t stop eating it. If you find it hard to eliminate dairy, keep in mind: just like sugar or salt, it’s very addictive. If you decide to go dairy-free, you can gradually reduce the amount rather than quitting “cold turkey”.
Reasons to go dairy-free: summary
Despite what you may have been told, you don’t need to consume dairy to have strong bones or improve your health. Foods like ice cream and yogurt taste good, but are also linked to many health conditions, cruel practices, and the environmental crisis.
I believe everyone should go dairy-free because:
- Most people are intolerant, even if they don’t realize it
- Dairy is an artificial food, which means we are the only species that drink milk as adults
- It can cause acne outbreaks (insulin spikes, saturated fats, and cows being fed hormones could be the reason)
- It causes digestive issues such as bloating: after the weaning phase, humans don’t have enough enzymes to properly digest dairy
- There are many dairy alternatives which taste amazing
- You don’t need to drink milk to have strong bones: minerals like calcium and magnesium can be found in other foods; large amounts of dairy may actually increase the risk of osteoporosis
- In general, the dairy industry doesn’t care about the cows’ wellbeing, and involves cruel practices such as forceful impregnation and mutilations
- Dairy can significantly increase the risk of inflammation, breast cancer, and prostate cancer
- The cows are usually fed hormones and antibiotics; moreover, forceful impregnation means their estrogen levels are constantly high
- Casein (the main protein component in dairy) increases the risk of tonsil stones and chronic tonsillitis
- The dairy industry contributes to gas emissions and uses enormous amounts of water, and it’s currently not sustainable
- Casein is very addictive: it triggers the brain’s opioids receptors, which can make you feel slightly relaxed or euphoric.
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