The dairy dilemma

Dairy products are one of those food groups that people reluctantly give up.  Most individuals associate milk and cheese with growing bones, strong teeth and osteoporosis prevention.  They have played into strategic marketing and genuinely believe that dairy products possess an abundance of health benefits.  Most people are unaware about what I call the dairy dilemma.  I believe that conditions such as acne, ADHD, diabetes, headaches, heart disease, Irritable Bowel Disease, obesity, osteoporosis and hormone-related cancers can be prevented by understanding dairy for what it truly is and eliminating it from your diet.

The simple truth about dairy

Lets start from the beginning.  Milk IS good – that is, BREAST MILK.  When a baby is born, a mother produces enough milk to help her infant grow from an 8-pound newborn into a 24-pound toddler.  Milk accommodates for a 300% weight gain over the first year of life.  When the child is anywhere between 12-24 months, a mother’s milk dries up and she stops breast-feeding.  It is at this point of life where humans lose 95% of the digestive enzyme lactase, a substance necessary to break down lactose, the sugar in milk.  The human body is not meant to digest dairy once the breast-feeding period is over.

Let’s be honest.  Most babies DO consume milk after foods have been introduced.  Most people consume dairy products throughout their entire lives.  The difference between cows’ milk and human milk is that cows’ milk, by design, is meant to grow a 90lb calf into a 2,000lb cow over 2 years.  By the laws of deduction, if you want to lose weight, eliminating dairy is a must.

It’s not only about weight management.  The sad truth is, dairy is one of the most common culprits of gastrointestinal inflammation.  It quickly triggers the immune system to produce inflammatory molecules resulting in a variety of conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and dermatological conditions, as well as autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.  The reason? We aren’t supposed to be consuming dairy!

Got Milk? Marketing misconceptions & the truth about calcium

According to the commercials I grew up with, milk “Does a body good.”  Most people I speak with claim it’s the key to strong bones and teeth because of its high calcium content. FYI: Milk leeches calcium out of bones.   Surprised? Here’s the deal: even though milk is a source of calcium, milk is also acidic.  This means that when you drink milk, the pH level in the blood naturally decreases.  In response, calcium, which works to prevent changes in pH, is released from the bones, predisposing an individual to osteoporosis and bone fractures. The acidic quality of all dairy products supersedes its calcium content.  According to a recent study conducted at Harvard University, “milk isn’t the only, or even best, source. [of calcium].” Something to think about, eh?

Having calcium leech from the bones isn’t the worst part about the dairy dilemma: acidic foods affect the body’s functioning, right down to the cellular level.  Acidic blood is a reflection of significant free radical damage and low antioxidant levels. Acidic blood levels are associated with chronic diseases such as diabetes, elevated cholesterol and cancer.

Your heart does NOT love dairy

Your taste buds may LOVE the taste of cheese and dairy products but I can assure you, your heart does not feel the same. Many dairy products are high in saturated fat and high saturated fat intake is associated with heart disease.  Eggs, which are classified as dairy products, are widely known to elevate cholesterol and increase cardiovascular risk.

Hormonal havoc: the dairy dilemma continued

One major concern about dairy products is the exposure to hormone disrupting antibiotics, chemicals and growth hormones.  Hormonal imbalances are implicated in certain types of cancers such as breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancer.  According to some Harvard researchers, the hormone composition of milk may increase the risk of ovarian and other hormone-related cancers.

Recent studies have found that male athletes who consumed high doses of calcium (2000mg+) were almost twice as likely to develop prostate cancer compared with men who consumed 500mg per day.   Something worth thinking about.

Another study found that elevated levels of galactose, a sugar byproduct that is released when we digest dairy products, may be linked to the development of ovarian cancer.  Researchers conclude that high dairy consumption is not necessarily safe.

The bottom line

I know, I’ve burst your blissful bubble of ignorance. You need to know that dairy products have been linked to a host of conditions such as anemia, anxiety, arthritis, joint pain, fibromyalgia, poor immune function, colic and autism, not to mention all the conditions I’ve previously listed.  Eliminating dairy from the diet will surely improve your physical and/or mental health and prevent, treat and possibly reverse one or more of your health concerns.

To learn about substitutions for dairy products, stay tuned for my upcoming blog: Simple Solutions to the Dairy Dilemma.  If you have specific questions you would like me to address, please comment and I will be sure to respond!

Dr. Shelly Reitkop, ND

Dr. Shelly Reitkop, ND

Guest post originally published by Shelly Reitkop, ND








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