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What's the Deal with Dairy?

Aug 5, 2013

Many of you have heard me say from time to time that I'm not particularly a fan of dairy products. I've gotten many responses over the years: "But, Blair, how do you expect me to get enough calcium if I'm not drinking milk or eating cheese?" Or, "Isn't my low-fat Greek yogurt a good breakfast since it's higher in protein?"

The subject of dairy consumption is a slippery slope. First and foremost, I have to say it's an individual decision that you make based on your goals or how you feel when you consume dairy. For those of you who suffer from skin conditions, allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, have a goal of losing body fat or are simply lactose intolerant, you should reconsider your relationship with dairy. Unfortunately when it comes to symptoms you may not know what your symptoms are, if any, until you cut out dairy entirely for atleast a few weeks.

Dairy consumption is linked to skin conditions such as acne, heightened environmental allergy symptoms, asthma, gastrointestinal issues, and difficulty losing body fat. If you're an avid milk drinker or cheese eater, it may be worth giving up dairy for a month to see if you notice any difference in how you feel, your general energy, and overall well-being.

If you're like a lot of folks who I've talked to about dairy and swear that "if I give up my cheese, I'll just DIE," then make sure you're atleast getting quality dairy products and not trying to save money by purchasing conventionally branded items. Full-fat, organic, pastured dairy products are generally okay for those who aren't lactose intolerant. Use high-quality, pastured butter to cook--a good brand is Kerry Gold if you can't find butter from local, pasture-raised cows. Stay away from conventional sources of dairy like nationally branded products. These items are highly treated and don't contain near the nutrient profile as quality dairy.

When it comes to the concern about calcium, the research is changing. There are many other things you can eat to get adequate calcium without having to fall into the "eat your dairy for calcium" trap. Consume lots of dark leafy greens, broccoli, nuts, sardines and salmon to obtain the calcium you need for strong bones. Also, make sure you're getting enough vitamin D from sunshine so that the calcium you do eat is adequately absorbed. Along with the D, you'll need magnesium and vitamin K. Magnesium can be your excuse to have a piece of extra dark chocolate as a treat. All of those dark leafies will give you plenty of vitamin K as well.

So, what is the take-home message? Well, if you suffer from any of the issues mentioned, you may want to give dairy a kick to the curb to see if your symptoms get better. The caveat is that it has to be 100% elimination to determine if you have an issue with dairy. If you don't have any symptoms and can't manage to see yourself enjoying life without dairy, then make sure you're consuming quality dairy products from pastured cows. End of story!

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