is dairy bad for youWe’ve grown up with ads on television, championing the dairy industry. We’re encouraged to sport a milk mustache in order to stay healthy, strong and beautiful. Dairy is positioned as a critical component to a healthy diet, but is that actually the case? Do we need dairy or can we live a healthier life without? Is dairy bad for you?

Many patients are often surprised to learn that I do not recommend regular dairy consumption. There are several reasons for this, which we’ll explore below.

Remember all of the problems with gluten that we discussed in our last post? The protein found in diary, casein is almost biochemically identical to gluten. Therefore, dairy causes many of the same problems that gluten does. Dairy is second only to gluten in its ability to wear down the lining of the gut, leading to leaky gut syndrome (dysbiosis). When leaky gut syndrome exists, food particles enter the blood stream and are confronted by the immune system, leading to symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, aches and pains. This causes chronic inflammation and potential damage to other organ systems in the body. This is the reason that most people, who have a problem with gluten, also have a problem with dairy.

Dairy is a major culprit when it comes to chronic inflammation in the body. Over time, the body is so consumed with inflammation that it is less able to scavenge for germs and perform its natural detoxification processes.

Also, from a Chinese Medicine perspective, dairy is a phlegm-producing food. Phlegm causes patients to suffer from post-nasal drip, runny noses or the need to clear their throat several times a day. For this reason, phlegm leads to allergies and asthma. In Chinese Medicine one can have “invisible phlegm” and dampness also. Invisible phlegm can present itself as join stiffness, muscle aches and brain fog. All of these symptoms tend to be alleviated when phlegm is resolved by eliminating dairy from the diet.

So, that said, dairy is not the best thing to include in your diet on an ongoing or regular basis. From a nutritional perspective, dairy is often recognized as a source of calcium and protein. Leafy greens such as collards, kale and bok choy alternatively are plant-based sources of calcium and protein. Another alternative is to consume nuts, seeds and legumes as they provide protein, fiber and healthy fats. Sardines are also very high in calcium. As you can see, this gives you several options to get your calcium and protein every day without including dairy in your diet.

Have you removed dairy from your diet? What kinds of changes have you noticed?