Dairy, which includes cow’s milk, goat’s milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and butter are considered a staple of the American diet. Studies show that on average, Americans consume a whopping 20 gallons of dairy per year. However, recent health trends indicate those numbers are dropping as many are opting to go dairy-free. Let’s explore 5 significant reasons why many are choosing to omit dairy from their diet.
1. Dairy Allergy
An allergy happens when your immune system reacts to harmless food by thinking it’s dangerous and treating it as a virus. This can result in a number of possible reactions including inflammation, excess mucus, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and more.
What Are We Allergic to in Dairy?
There are two different proteins in cow’s milk that can cause allergic reactions:
Did you know that 20% of children in the US have a dairy allergy? Some attribute this allergy to the modern day dairy manufacturing procedures. Cow's diets are pumped full of GMOs found in corn and soybean and sprayed with more antibiotics and chemicals than ever.
2. Lactose Intolerance
Unlike cow’s milk allergies, lactose intolerance is considered a digestive disorder. This happens when the body lacks the necessary amount of enzymes to digest a sugar called lactose, which is found in milk. Some signs of lactose intolerance include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and abdominal gas. It’s interesting to note that lactose intolerance is a prominent trend in minority communities with 90% of Asian Americans and 70% of African Americans suffering from lactose intolerance.
The emerging increase of lactose intolerance is often attributed to the increase of dairy consumption. People are born with a limited amount of lactase and once depleted an intolerance develops.
3. Gluten Allergy
According to Dr. Alessio Fasano, a Celiac Research doctor, it is estimated that there are 18 million Americans who have some kind of sensitivity to gluten. Further research indicates that an estimated 50% of those allergic to gluten also have an allergy to dairy. This is because the protein of gluten resembles one of the proteins found in milk. For this reason, many with a gluten allergy opt to remain dairy-free as well.
4. Vegan Diet
As you may know omitting dairy from your diet and lifestyle is an essential part of the vegan diet. Today, there are nearly 1 million vegans in the United States. Why someone may choose to be vegan can range from environmental to ethical to health reasons. This diet trend is also becoming more and more popular throughout the country.
5. Health Benefits
Aside from allergies, intolerances or lifestyle choices, many choose to be dairy free because they simply believe dairy is unhealthy.
Less Hormone Consumption
In our modern day dairy industry, hormones, and the consumption of hormones are unavoidable. There are two different hormones involved in the making of milk: IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) and a man-made hormone called rBGH, which is used to increase milk production. In short, a synthetic hormone is used to increase a natural hormone that produces milk. IGF-1 is not only used to make cow milk but is also a naturally occurring byproduct found in cow’s milk.
While naturally occurring, IGF-1 is not necessarily good for the body. Studies indicate drinking milk may increase the amount of IGF-1 hormones in the body by 10% and further evidence shows a link between IGF-1 and an increase of cancer.
Reduce Heart Disease
By removing dairy from your diet, you can cut out a significant amount of saturated fats found in ice cream, milk, cheese, and butter. While delicious, saturated fat consumption increases the amount of cholesterol production which increases chances of heart disease.
Dioxins are small environmental toxins in the air associated with pollution, found in food and do not leave our body easily. Approximately ¼ of dioxins in our bodies come from dairy. Over time they can affect one’s immune system, reproductive system, and increase chances of cancer.
As you can see, there are multiple reasons for omitting dairy from one's diet. From personal experience, I became dairy free because I wanted to be a vegan. I quickly noticed I had a lot more energy, less bloating, weight loss, and most significantly, an improvement in my skin. I didn’t break out as much. According to my friends and family members, I was glowing. Being dairy free was not as difficult as many had made it seem. As much as I loved milk and cheese, the benefits far outweighed the loss.