When you think of food allergies, you most commonly think of nuts, gluten, or eggs. Dairy isn’t what typically makes headlines. However, milk is swiftly overtaking nuts as the top food allergy. In fact, over 50% of US children under the age of 5 suffer from an allergy to cow’s milk and it is known to be the most leading cause of death to school-age children in the UK. Going dairy-free may sound like a challenge, but is a life-saving decision. In today’s article we’ll cover why consuming cow’s milk is a problem, and how you can make the switch easily.
Many of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents grew up on milk. In the 80s the ‘Milk does a body good.’ campaign was king. After sales dwindled in the 90s, various ‘Got Milk?’ ads surfaced to promote and encourage adults to consume more milk. This was all a marketing ploy by the California Milk Processing board to boost the sales of milk, not for the health of the people.
So what’s wrong with cow’s milk?
After all, it does supply the body with much needed vitamin D, right? The truth is, there are healthier ways to receive vitamin D. Cow’s milk is not intended for human consumption, and doing so can have negative effects on your health. Effects like:
- Increased mucus production
- Increased inflammation
- Increased risk of cancer (ovarian, prostate, and breast)
- Digestive issues such as IBS, gas, bloating, and diarrhea
- Bone fractures (yes, studies have shown that drinking more milk can increase your risk.)
- Hormone imbalances
- Increased risk of heart disease
Many people joke about their inability to eat dairy without digestive upset. However, that upset stomach is an indication of allergy that should be taken more seriously. If allowed to persist, it can become a chronic situation that develops into other health issues such as chronic inflammation.
As listed above, dairy also increases mucus in the body. While this may present as more phlegm or a runny nose, if allowed to become excessive, mucus can manifest as tumors, nodules, fibroids, and a host of other unwelcome growths.
Conversely, there are several benefits to going dairy-free that goes beyond allergy relief:
- Clearer skin
- Healthy weight loss
- Improved digestion
- Improved immunity
- It’s better for the environment!
You may be thinking: “I love dairy! How can I ever give it up?”
It is possible to evolve past the desire for dairy. If you’ve eaten dairy your entire life, it is understandable that removing it from your diet feels impossible. We’re here to tell you, you can do it! And today, more than ever, it is easier to make this adjustment.
Thankfully in 2021, there are numerous alternatives to dairy to choose from. From plant-based milks and yogurts to vegan cheese and coffee creamer, almost every grocery store now carries a variety of dairy alternatives. Swapping out your dairy staples for plant-based ones can improve your health and your body’s response to seasonal allergies [since it can curtail inflammation and overactive mucus production which exacerbates symptoms].
Many dairy alternatives are made from:
- Nuts ( almond, cashew, pistachio, or macadamia).
- Grains (oats or rice)
Seeds (hemp, flax)
*(We don’t recommend soy, as many soy products are made with genetically-modified soy.)
While there are several to choose from, we encourage you to consider a few things:
- Choose organic. Just like you would opt for organic produce, it is imperative to also choose organic dairy alternatives that have not been treated with pesticides. (Remember, many allergies are a reaction to the chemicals used to treat the plant as well.)
- Choose minimally processed alternatives. Products with simple whole ingredients are better for the body as a whole than those that include a long list of additives, chemicals and sugar. Some alternatives, such as ice cream, can be created at home by just blending frozen banana, coconut cream and other fruits!
- Choose nutrient-dense options. Hemp milk, for example, is higher in protein and healthy fat than other plant milks. Hemp protein is a more nutrient dense protein than whey protein as well. (Check out our hemp protein here.)
- Eat alternatives in moderation. A plant-based diet dominant in whole fresh foods should make up the majority of your daily nutrition. This means, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, fats, whole grains, and herbs. Making this transition alone may offer relief to allergy sufferers.
Enjoy what you eat! Going dairy free opens you up to a variety of new foods and recipes. Get creative and try out a few new ones. You may be surprised by how flavorful eating dairy-free can be!
If you would like support in transitioning to a dairy-free diet, schedule your personalized health consultation today.