I’ve been dairy free off and on for the past 10 years. Between going vegan, being told my naturopath that dairy was a no-no for my Hashimoto’s, trying Whole30, and going paleo…there isn’t a whole lot of room for dairy in my life.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy some Ghee or cheese every now and then, but as a rule, I do try to avoid dairy on the regular.
I’ve found that eating a lot of dairy products causes me serious tummy trouble, including constipation, bloating, and some unmentionable things.
Having a food intolerance is NOT fun.
It’s a total PITA (pain in the butt for you newbies), and I’m kind of over it.
At least I’m not alone. Dairy is one of those foods that a lot of people have an intolerance for.
The trick is figuring out which component causes you issues and then avoiding it. But if you have issues with all of them, you may want to consider going dairy free (I know, I know. Cheese is amazing, but there are some really good vegan options out there if you hunt them down).
But…why go dairy free? For me, it’s about feeling better.
Lactose is just a fancy way of saying milk sugar. Pretty neat, huh?
It’s estimated that up to 75% of adults are lactose intolerant.
In fact, lactose intolerance is so common you can buy lactose-free milk at your grocery store.
To make these lactose-free products, milk, butter, eggs, yogurt (and more) are treated with an enzyme called lactase, which many people product naturally.”
Lactase breaks the lactose down before you ingest it.
If you’re lactose intolerant, your body either doesn’t make any lactase or it doesn’t produce enough to break down lactose on its own.
Lactase is one of your digestive enzymes. And when you don’t make it or don’t make enough, undigested lactose ends up being food for your gut. As your little gut microbes digest the lactose, it ferments, causing gas, bloating, pain, and worse.
You’ll find lactose is in all dairy products but is in lower concentrations in fermented dairy products (think cheese and yogurt).
And if you’re taking any medications or supplements, be sure to read the ingredient label as lactose is a common ingredient in them.
I’m sensitive to lactose, so I have to be careful. I found it in my B12!
Casein and Whey
Casein and whey are the protein in milk, they are commonly found in protein shakes.
You’ve heard of “curds and whey,” right?
Well, the curds are actually casein and the liquid is the dissolved whey.
Unlike lactose intolerance, casein and whey can cause an actual immune response that may include congestion, extra mucus, and worse.
Your system’s immune response causes inflammation and discomfort or worse when you have an allergy to casein and whey.
And like lactose, milk proteins can be found in other products too.
Like those with a lactose intolerance, if you’re allergic to casein and whey you should keep an eye on labels in non-dairy products so that you don’t accidentally ingest them.
Why Go Dairy Free?
If you get gassy, bloated, or have diarrhea after eating dairy (yes, really.), you may have a lactose intolerance.
If you often get a stuffy nose or sinus infection, then you may be allergic to casein and/or whey.
Remember that while dairy may be an entire food group, it is not essential. All the nutrients in dairy products are available in other foods.
If you decide to (or have already) removed dairy from your diet, let me know your experience in the comments below!