Dairy is a favorite food for many people – it might even be the most difficult food for many of us to consider giving up. Like gluten, it’s a comfort food that has emotional connections for us, too. Many people tense up and dismiss the idea completely when considering giving up their evening bowl of ice cream.
Like any food, some people react to it and some people don’t. But, for many, it can make a huge difference in eliminating or reducing chronic symptoms – especially for those with digestive symptoms, ear infections, congestion, asthma, skin issues, chronic pain, and difficulty losing weight.
Also, like any food, people may not react to it in a whole, real-food form (i.e. unpasteurized milk, cheeses, and yogurts from a local farm). Other people may only be reactive to part of the chemical make-up of dairy – for example the lactose or casein. In this case, some one may tolerate butter or ghee (a form of butter that removes the casein) while still being unable to tolerate milk.
Since it is such a common allergen and inflammatory food, it’s a good idea to test dairy to notice how your body responds to it and whether or not a change would be beneficial to your health.
Tuning into our own bodies and our own needs is the first step toward taking back our health.
Even if you end up adding it back in, you will learn something about yourself, experiment with new foods, and be more conscious of the foods you choose.
Here’s the kicker, though…
It may be MOST important to try cutting out dairy if you’re one of those people who LOVES it and can’t imagine living without it. In my experience, the dairy-lovers are often the ones who are unknowingly reacting to it most strongly.
For a little more motivation, here are 5 reasons why it really is worth it to do a dairy challenge:
1. Medical Mysteries
Due to the fact that dairy causes an inflammatory response in the body for many people, it can result in damage to the gut and in chronic symptoms throughout the body (read more HERE).
If you have chronic symptoms that you can’t seem to get past, it is definitely worth it to try cutting dairy out of your diet. If those chronic symptoms are digestive (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation), skin-related, involve drainage/congestion, include chronic pain, or involve an inability to lose weight, you definitely need to consider dairy as a possible culprit or aggravator.
2. Exposure to Antibiotics & Synthetic Hormones
Although you can find high-quality, organic, and unpasteurized dairy if you look for it, it isn’t available in most grocery stores. Your body may only be reacting to what’s in the dairy and not the dairy itself. Still, giving up dairy for a time allows your body a rest and a chance to heal. Then, you can try adding in high-quality dairy and be able to tell more easily whether you react to it or not.
3. The Peptide Effect
Like gluten, dairy can have an opioid – almost addictive – effect on the brain. The casein in dairy is very similar in structure to the gliadin in gluten. Both can have the effect of causing cravings and an emotional or comfort food response to them. The peptide effect may be tricking you into thinking dairy doesn’t affect you, when it’s actually a major cause of your symptoms.
Because of this, you can expect it to be a challenge the first few days you eliminate dairy from your diet. (Helpful tip: eating more healthy fats, using adequate amounts of sea salt, and adding in high-quality meats can ease the transition.)
Read more HERE.
4. Mental Health
In recent years, there is more and more research on the connection between mental illness and the health of the gut. Both gluten and dairy can effect the health of the lining of the gut – especially gluten and dairy that are in a compromised state due to mainstream farming and food preparation practices. Amazingly, this can end up having a significant effect on your mental health. The current statistics are that 1 in 4 women takes prescription medication for mental health symptoms (read more). This is a striking number of women!
If you struggle with chronic mental health issues, cutting out dairy for a time could really make a meaningful difference for you.
Read more HERE.
5. Blood Sugar Regulation & Weight Gain
If you are gaining weight or are unable to lose weight despite a healthy diet and exercise routine, then you may have food sensitivities that are affecting your metabolism. Dairy is one of the most common culprits as it affects your hormones, blood sugar, and digestion.
Read more HERE.
Have you tried cutting out dairy before? What changes did you notice?