Why I chose to give up dairy.
A question I get asked a fair amount, is 'should I give up dairy?'.
I do not eat dairy, and I am trying to cut it (at least in half) in my children's diet too.
Well, my reasons are several fold...
I have been a vegetarian for 13 years, following a healthy diet to ensure I get enough protein and the right vitamins and minerals.
I, and this is very personal to me and I say it without prejudice or judgement, dislike intensely the environment in which most of the animals are raised to produce milk, the more I read about these conditions, the less 'ok' I became. So I decided to do something about how I felt and stopped consuming it.
However, this is my personal view point, and does not come from a health perspective, so I did a great deal of research into whether we need dairy or not, can we thrive without it, or does it benefit us? I have summarised as concisely as possible my findings.
Here's what I found:
From an evolutionary point of view, milk is a strange food for humans. Until 10,000 years ago we didn’t domesticate animals and weren’t able to drink milk (unless some crazy-ass brave hunter-gatherer milked a wild tiger!).
The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase — the enzyme needed to properly metabolize lactose, the sugar in milk — sometime between the ages of two and five. Our bodies just weren’t made to digest milk on a regular basis. Instead, most scientists agree that it’s better for us to get calcium, potassium, protein, and fats from other food sources, like whole plant foods — vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and seaweed.
Not everyone can stomach dairy. In actual fact, about 75 % of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance.
It doesn't prevent osteoporosis- despite what we are told, many studies have concluded. Interestingly countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. There’s no evidence that dairy is good for your bones or prevents osteoporosis — in fact, the animal protein it contains may help cause bone loss!
A positive fact, for those who love their milk! Dairy can be a great source of nutrients such as vitamin A, B12, D, calcium, selenium, magnesium, and zinc. All needed to support a healthily functioning body.
Calcium isn’t as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures. Magnesium actually helps the body to uptake and utilise the calcium in our bodies, the calcium is stored in our bones- for us to utilise it properly we need Vit D and magnesium.
Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn’t. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
You should aim to get your calcium from foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, seaweed, tahini, sea vegetables, and sardines or salmon with the bones.
My conclusion is;
If you are not one of those people who has an intolerance to lactose, dairy can be a delicious and good source of several minerals and vitamins, although I would try and stick to raw, organic dairy products and include some fermented products too, such as kefir. However, if you are in the 75 % who do suffer (even mildly- you could experiment by cutting it out for 2 weeks and see if your digestion and general health feels better) from an intolerance- avoid it! There are plenty of other sources- listed above- which are perhaps more natural too, of getting these minerals and vitamins.
Do feel free to contact me if you feel you would like more information or are interested in giving up dairy.
Peace, Tamsyn x