24 Jan Why should I consider going dairy free?
When the doctor told me I had Breast Cancer, I found myself asking this very question to the nutritionist that told me I should not eat dairy. I knew if she was telling me not to eat dairy there must be a reason why.
When you are in the process of healing and learning what it means to be healthy, truly healthy, it can all be a bit overwhelming. My thought at the time was to do what I need to do, and I can figure it out why later.
I want to share with you some of the important things I discovered that helped me make the decision to stop eating dairy.
Dairy products contain casein, whey, and lactose and D-galactose, a breakdown product of lactose. All of these may cause problems within the digestive system.
If you have digestive challenges, as an experiment, try eating a dairy-free diet for 7-14 days to see if symptoms subside. You may be surprised at what happens in a few short days dairy free.
Below are a few conditions that research has shown a connection with too high levels of dairy protein
- type 1 diabetes
- increased cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis (in the animal studies)
- ear infections
- The primary milk protein (casein) promotes cancer.
- D-galactose has been found to be pro-inflammatory and increases aging.
- Dairy protein has been shown to increase IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1) levels. Increased levels of IGF-1 are with several cancers.
Milk is the most commonly reported food allergen in the world. Most people cannot adequately digest milk due to lactose intolerance.
As I learned more about health concerns connected to higher dairy intake I was shocked to learn that several cancers can also be linked
- an increased risk of prostate cancer.
- a higher ovarian cancer risk.
Across countries, populations that consume more dairy have higher rates of multiple sclerosis.
How Do I Go Dairy Free?
Now that I have your attention … I know, trust me I know, making lifestyle changes can be so overwhelming in the beginning. I found myself asking “if I can’t eat dairy what can I eat?”
My whole life I was raised on dairy products. You might say I was brainwashed into believing that dairy products were essential for good health. Dairy products provided me protein for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. The list goes on and on.
The truth is, as I’ve listed above, dairy can compromise your health, including increasing your risk of cancer(s), diabetes, and many chronic diseases.
Products to avoid:
Any cow-based dairy products including whole milk, low-fat milk, 1% milk, skim milk, all cheese varieties, sour cream, puddings, ice creams, frozen yogurt, and yogurt
Goat-based, sheep-based and camel-based dairy products including milk, cheese, ice creams, and yogurts
Tips to Go Dairy Free
Here is a list of alternatives that do not naturally contain casein, whey, or lactose.
Dairy Milk Alternatives:
Coconut Milk (So Delicious for cereal/cooking and canned for recipes requiring a fattier version)
Flax Milk (Good Karma)
Cashew Milk (Silk)
Dairy Butter Alternatives:
Earth Balance vegan spread
Dairy Yogurt Alternatives:
Dairy Cheese Alternatives:
NOTE: Always double-check the ingredient label for casein and sodium caseinate since these are common additives even in non-dairy alternatives.
Rice milk cheese slices
Almond milk cheese slices
Daiya is a popular vegan choice, and it melts well
Dairy Ice Cream Alternatives:
Almond ice cream (Almond Dream)
Coconut ice cream (So Delicious brand)
Rice Ice cream (Rice Dream)
Soy ice cream
Frozen bananas, berries, mangos, pineapples, etc. also make great alternatives if you have a high-powered blender or food processor
Other Dairy Alternative items:
Puddings – there are dairy-free options on the market now such as ZenSoy, or you can make your own at home using canned coconut milk.
Creamers – Soy and coconut-based creamers are widely available at most grocery stores
Sour cream – Soy-based versions are the most commonly available.
What about butter?
Great question! Glad you asked! Most people who need to or choose to avoid dairy can tolerate butter. However, there are exceptions to this rule and also alternatives. Thank goodness! Butter contains trace amounts of casein. There is a casein-free version known as ghee. Ghee is the name of the food, not the brand, like butter is the name. Ghee is a type of clarified butter made by heating butter and then straining the liquid through cheesecloth or another filter. The casein can be thrown away or re-used by those that tolerate it. You can make this at home or purchase at a grocery store. There are many ways, some quite elaborate, to make ghee. You might find certain types preferable to others.
Making ghee at home
Take several sticks of butter (preferably from grass-fed cows) and place them in a slow cooker for 1.5-2 hours. When the butter is all liquid, you can strain it with cheesecloth into a glass container with a cover. Sounds pretty simple, huh?
Treat Ghee like you would butter for storage. If you leave it in the fridge, it will get hard (actually it gets harder than regular butter). If you leave it on the counter, it will go bad faster but be soft and ready for use anytime. Most people leave it in the fridge and take it out just before use.
You can use ghee just like you would have used butter. You can spoon it, spread it, cook with it, or throw it in your coffee or tea.
I hope that you will consider cutting back if your not ready to eliminate dairy from your diet. Even lowering your intake of dairy could allow you to see health improvements. I promise there are so many options out there, if you try you WILL find something you like.
If you have had an experience eliminating dairy, please share it with us in our Facebook group.
May your life be filled with love, health and happiness