It seems more and more people are going dairy free these days.
Some people have to be dairy free because they are lactose intolerant or because they are allergic to milk and others choose it for ethical reasons.
In this post I’m going to look into what it means to be dairy free, and if there are any benefits or side effects of going dairy free when you don’t have a medical reason to do it.
LACTOSE INTOLERANCE AND MILK ALLERGY – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
If you have a milk allergy or are lactose intolerant then of course going dairy free is going to be beneficial to your health or even life-saving.
But what is the difference between the two?
When you are lactose intolerant, it means that you are unable to digest lactose normally. Your body does not make enough of the lactase enzyme and therefore creates problems with your digestive system.
Lactose intolerance is not life-threatening, but it can cause you major discomfort.
Like any allergy, a milk allergy can be life threatening and is a lot more serious than lactose intolerance.
If you have a milk allergy and you consume milk, your body reacts abnormally and can potentially go into anaphylactic shock.
While some people that have lactose intolerance may be able to consume small bits of lactose every day, if you have a milk allergy, you should stay away from any milk products.
ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS OF GOING DAIRY FREE IF YOU DON’T HAVE MILK ALLERGY OR LACTOSE INTOLERANCE?
So are there any health benefits of going dairy free if you’re not lactose intolerant or allergic to milk?
Well, actually, going dairy free may have some benefits!
IT MAY HELP WITH SOME GUT ISSUES
When you stop eating dairy you are likely to feel less bloated every day. Even if you don’t have full-blown lactose intolerance, you still may find that you get the bloat from time to time.
You may also suffer from gut problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease but notice that the symptoms get better when you go dairy free.
YOU MIGHT LOSE WEIGHT
Since a lot of dairy that we consume comes in fat-heavy forms, like cheese, when you cut these out of your diet, you’ll no doubt see your weight go down.
It’s not the actual dairy that makes us gain weight to begin with, it’s just how we consume it.
YOUR SKIN MIGHT CLEAR UP
While there are no hard facts regarding the connection between acne and dairy, some experts think that you’re more likely to get hormonal acne if you eat dairy.
So, while this isn’t a definite, you may find that your skin looks better when you go dairy free.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS OF GOING DAIRY FREE?
Obviously going dairy free is important for those that have a milk allergy or dairy intolerance.
But if you don’t have one of these conditions and you go dairy free, are there going to be any negative side effects?
The most notable side effect that you may experience is that you could miss out on some essential nutrients.
The USDA actually recommends that you consume at least three cups of dairy a day. This could be made up of yogurt, milk or cheese.
Dairy is a good source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, which are all nutrients that your body needs a substantial amount every day to stay in optimum form.
Calcium is especially important for good bone strength and health. But there is a lot of debate (particularly amongst the vegan community) about whether calcium consumed through dairy products actually results in higher calcium levels and stronger bones.
Another way to get calcium is through almonds and sesame seeds, but you’d need to eat a lot of these to get the desired amount. There are also other sources such as beans and lentils, some leafy greens, sardines and canned salmon.
Some people who are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy take appropriate supplements to ensure they are getting the right nutrients on a daily basis.
SHOULD I GO DAIRY FREE?
If you are not lactose intolerant and you don’t have a milk allergy, choosing to go dairy free is a personal choice.
And some people find that they feel generally healthier when they make the switch.
If you are seriously considering going dairy free, then I would highly suggest that you speak to your doctor or nutritionist to get their advice.
Going dairy free could be great for you, but it could also cause nutrient deficiency. So I would recommend you to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist before doing so.
And if you decide on going dairy free but you’re not sure from where to start I have a 7-day dairy free meal plan that you can get for free here.
Love Rachael xx