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Why I Gave Up Dairy

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We are raised in a culture that actively promotes the consumption of milk and dairy products from cows. From a young age you are taught that you need milk for strong bones, that cheese and yogurt are part of a healthful diet, and that it is weird to consume human breastmilk past a certain age, but milk from cows is totally normal.

*Cue Twilight Zone Music*

I believed all of that nonsense until 2 months ago. These beliefs held up through all of my education (including my public health degree), various fad diets and health journeys I had taken, and even through my thorough health research that I took on during my pregnancy and after my daughter was born.

I didn’t learn the truth until 2019, when my husband started having stomach issues and we searched out a functional medicine gastrointologist! You can read more about our story of discovering a plant-based diet here, but to summarize our doctor, Angie Sadeghi, simply suggested he cut out dairy and see how he felt. From there we fell down a rabbit hole of documentaries, podcasts, research and more to find the answers to our health problems in our kitchen instead of the medicine cabinet.

After all of my research, here are some of the reasons why I gave up dairy and stopped feeding it to my family.

Health & Dairy

1. Approximately 65% of the human population is lactose intolerant¹

This is a pretty straightforward statistic provided by the NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine. The majority of humans cannot properly digest lactose yet today we eat it in staggering amounts and often find it promoted as healthy.

2. Cheese is calorie dense, high in fat, and cholesterol.

A one-ounce slice of cheddar cheese contains 6 grams of 30% of your daily recommended intake of saturated fat. It also contains 29mg or 9% of your DV of cholesterol.²

But it also contains calcium and protein! So do a ton of other foods that don’t come wrapped up in saturated fat and cholesterol! I’ll get to this in the next section.

Saturated fat –
“A diet rich in saturated fats can drive up total cholesterol, and tip the balance toward more harmful LDL cholesterol, which prompts blockages to form in arteries in the heart and elsewhere in the body.” (
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good )

“But research has found that it’s not enough just to eat more healthy fats. You also have to cut out the unhealthy saturated fat, too. A study from Harvard researchers in the March 2018 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming monounsaturated fats, especially from nuts and olive oil, can lower a person’s risk of heart disease — especially if the healthy fat replaces saturated fat and refined carbs (which can also raise LDL levels). The researchers added that any benefit from consuming monounsaturated fats may be negated if a person continues to consume too much saturated fat.”

Know the facts about fats (2018). Harvard Health Publishing.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/know-the-facts-about-fats

3. There are plenty of other sources for calcium, vitamin D, and protein.

Calcium is probably the best argument the dairy industry has up their sleeve, however there are many other sources of calcium (that don’t come with all of the saturated fat and cholesterol included in dairy products!

Strong bones? There is research indicating that milk may not be as protective for our bones as previously thought.

Cheese Addiction (Mic the Vegan):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hE6lhQu7k4

What the Dairy Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know – Dr. Neal Bernard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3c_D0s391Q

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334652/

4. Dairy Causes Inflammation and Can Trigger Autoimmune Disease

As someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, dairy was the first food that my doctor told me to cut out. For more information about Dairy and Autoimmune Disease read this article.

Ethical Standpoint

Environmental Standpoint

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/21/lifestyle-change-eat-less-meat-climate-change

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth

Sources

  1. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/lactose-intolerance#statistics
  2. USDA FoodData Central.https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/?query=ndbNumber:1009

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