By now, most of my patients and readers know how I feel about dairy: it’s nature’s perfect food—but only if you’re a calf. We have no biological requirement for this food, and yet, we’ve been told over and over again that dairy is a great source of calcium, milk makes healthy bones, we should all drink milk daily and, most importantly, we should all be giving milk to our children. I’m here to tell you that this is not true.
Based on research and my clinical experience, I typically advise most of my patients to avoid dairy products completely. Here are some facts to consider:
- Countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
- Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (or IGF-1)—a known cancer promoter.
- Calcium is not as bone-protective as we once thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. In fact, vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.
These are just a few of the findings related to the harm dairy can cause. About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products—a problem generally known as lactose intolerance. I often find that symptoms of lactose intolerance are actually caused by difficulty digesting casein, the main protein found in milk, and not from the lactose. Casein is often used in other food products as a binding agent and casein proteins can induce inflammation leading to things like eczema, ear infections, congestion, and sinus problems. For this reason, I highly recommend that everyone avoid casein.
Whey protein contains very little lactose, so there is a chance that someone with lactose intolerance might be able to have whey. However, the tolerance for whey varies dramatically among those who are intolerant to lactose, so you might want to test this out for yourself. Overall, I recommend avoiding dairy, especially if you are lactose intolerant. Dairy consumption can lead to increased cancer risk, increased fracture risk, constipation, irritable bowel, bloating, gas, diarrhea, allergies, eczema, and acne. None of that sounds good to me!
We do a lot of testing for food sensitivities in our clinic given the vast improvement most people see in their health once they remove offending foods from their diet. The test we run can tell a person definitively whether they are sensitive to one or more of the components of dairy. For those who do not wish to get a food sensitivity test, we recommend simply removing dairy from your diet for around three weeks and see if you feel better. You should notice improvements with your sinuses, headaches, digestion, energy, and weight. Then start reintroducing dairy into your diet again and see how you feel. Why not give it a shot? You have nothing to lose—except some miserable symptoms and maybe a little weight.
If you would like more information regarding food sensitivity testing or any of the treatments, therapies, or services offered at The Institute of Natural Health, please contact us at (314) 293-8123 or visit us at the inhstl.com. Dr. TJ Williams is the Clinic Director for the Institute of Natural Health and the host of the radio program Wellness 101, which provides common-sense, science-based strategies for a healthy life. Wellness 101 airs Sundays at 3:00pm on FM NewsTalk 97.1.