10 Jan To dairy or not to dairy… THAT is the question!
Milk It Does A Body Good?
When I was growing up, celebrity athletes, actors and super models were in commercials and ads wearing milk mustaches and asking “Got Milk?” Parents, teachers, EVERYONE was saying, “if you want to be healthy, have strong bones and big muscles, you have to drink your milk!” But lately, there has been a lot of buzz about eliminating dairy from our diets completely.
High calories and saturated fat used to be the only complaint about dairy products, but now we are hearing claims like “eating dairy may cause cancer?” Yikes!
Dairy products have always been commonly accepted as loaded with essential nutrients; protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, folate, B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12), vitamins A, D, E. So what has changed?
Well, dairy processing has changed tremendously over the past few decades. Conventional (non-organic) dairy farms are BIG business. Many times, cows and livestock are fed grains that are often genetically modified and not exactly the diet of cows in nature. Plus, they are often given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick from the filth and feces they stand in all day as they are packed into confined spaces. Plus they are fed growth hormone to make them bigger faster, and many are kept in a constant state of pregnancy.
Linked to cancers?
You may have heard about a recent study from Harvard University linking dairy products to hormone driven diseases such as breast, prostate, testicular, and ovarian cancer. The study focuses on the conventional dairy farms in which cows are basically milked every day of the year. During most of this time, they are pregnant and in late stages of pregnancy the cows produce more estrogen in their milk. The cows can have up to 33 times more estrogen in their milk than non-pregnant cows. The study also says that natural estrogens are 100,000 times more potent than environmental estrogens. Because hormones are fat soluble, conventionally produced skim milk is lower in estrogen than varieties with fat.
Is unpasteurized (raw) the answer?
In a brighter pasture, the Harvard study showed that raw (unpasteurized),organic milk from grass-fed cows, milked only at proper times (only about 5 months and not into the later stages or pregnancy) are shown to improve digestion, offers health benefits to autoimmune disorders, and boosts overall immune health, wall of which are important in preventing cancer.
Can You Tolerate Dairy?
An allergy to dairy is usually severe and diagnosed early in childhood. But many people suffer from “lactose intolerance” in which their body doesn’t produce enough enzymes to break down the sugars in dairy products so the foods move into the colon where they turn into bacteria. Shortly after eating dairy products, do you experience gas, abdominal cramping and diarrhea? You could be lactose intolerant, but don’t despair, many dairy products come in lactose free varieties that are more agreeable to your system. There are also chewable tablets and pills that deliver the enzyme that will help you to break down the lactose. So pop a few of those before you have a pizza and ice cream date night with your significant other.
IF You Eliminate Dairy….
Be conscious of “hidden dairy”. Dairy bi-products are found in many food and beverage items. If you have a dairy intolerance or are voluntarily eliminating dairy, you will need to read labels and be on the lookout for hidden dairy. Dairy bi-products are commonly called: curds, whey, ghee, casein, rennet, lactose, lactulose, whey and casein hydrolysates, lactalbumin, and lactoglobulin.
Dairy free options:
There are a lot of great milks that are dairy-free, such as soy milk (click on soy milk to read more about soy pros/cons), rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk. Some great calcium rich foods are, blackstrap molasses, figs, dried beans, nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts), broccoli, cabbage, kelp, dark leafy greens (bok choy, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens), and seafood (oysters, sardines and canned salmon).
Will I Lose Weight Going Dairy Free?
Many dairy products are high in fat and calories. So if you have been eating full fat varieties including sour cream and butter, or eating more than the USRDA recommended 1-3 servings per day, initially you are likely to lose weight. Keep in mind, a single serving of milk is only 8 ozs. If you are drinking Lattes every morning, then you are getting a serving size of dairy that you may not be counting.
If you choose to keep dairy in your diet, make the HEALTHIEST dairy choices possible!
Be mindful of portion sizes (one serving of milk is only 8ozs.), calories, and especially sugar content. Dairy products have a lot of naturally occurring sugar but many flavored yogurts have a lot of added sugar.
Buy organic when available. If your local market doesn’t offer a full line of organic options, make sure you buy products from cows that have not been treated with BST (bovine somatotropin). BST is essentially a growth hormone given to livestock animals to help them produce more milk.
Live & Active Cultures
When purchasing yogurt products, look for the “live and active cultures seal”. Worldwide studies are being conducted to prove the health benefits of live and active cultures including preventing gastrointestinal infections, boosting the body’s immune system, fighting certain types of cancer, and preventing osteoporosis. Another benefit of the active cultures is they help breakdown the lactose in the yogurt so people with lactose intolerance can eat yogurt. Greek style yogurt is one of my favorites because it’s high in protein, low in calories and sugar.
So there you have it! A good chunk of info so YOU can decide what is best for you and your family. To dairy or not to dairy…it is up to you!
Excuses or Solutions…YOU Decide!
– Natalie Jill