Is Dairy-Free Just A Fad?
Dairy-free is becoming just as popular as gluten-free and let's just be honest you have probably thought for at least a second, "is this really necessary", or maybe even "the hell with it, my pizza needs cheese". Before you make up your mind, this information is probably going to shock you.
Let's just dive right into it shall we?
I'll never forget the early days in my journey in studying nutrition. While in school I began working for a Naturopath who shared a story that set me back in my chair and had me reconsidering dairy in a just a hot second. It went a little something like this...
When babies are born they begin by nursing on their mother's breast milk which is full of all the hormones, vitamins and minerals to help that baby grow into a big healthy human. Their stomachs are naturally alkaline at this point. As baby is weaned from the breast, their stomachs continue to develop and begin to transition to an acidic environment which will help them to begin to digest whole foods and keep out bad bacteria.
At some point, industry determined it would be a wise idea to drink the breast milk of another animal... (just imagine sucking on a cows nipple). Just like humans a cow has all the hormones, vitamins and minerals to help their baby calf grow into a BIG healthy COW! If that isn't interesting enough, remember at this point in a baby's life, the stomach has now developed into an acidic environment unfit for milk consumption and ready for the introduction of foods.
It was at this point, that this Naturopath pointed out a simple recipe to make glue from milk. Simply putting milk through an acidic environment (such as vinegar) and then into an alkaline environment (such as baking soda) will create glue. Glue in elementary schools used to be made this way, but have since been replaced by chemical ingredients.
With some understanding of the gut we know that again our stomachs are acidic (to help digest food and keep bad bacteria out) and our small and large intestines are alkaline. In other words as milk travels through the digestive track into our stomach, an acidic environment and into the small and large intestines, an alkaline environment, we are essentially making glue.
Whether you have a food sensitivity to dairy or not, it is absolutely inflammatory. If your body is particularily sensitive to dairy it is possible you have experienced mucous in your stools, and even in your mouth or throat (ever had to clear your throat after eating a meal with dairy in it)? This mucous is your bodies way of trying to push the sticky gluey dairy through your body.
Don't I need dairy to get calcium?
Another great misconcetion is that we get the necessary amount of calcium from dairy. Sure, dairy contains calcium, but does that mean your body is absorbing it.
Due to the inflammatory/acidic nature of dairy, the bodies immune response is triggered, to reduce the inflammation. The body balances the inflammation by buffering with a chelation method using minerals such as calcium. The body does this by pulling calcium from the bones to buffer the acidity (uh pretty much the exact opposite that we thought dairy did) and in turn can contribute to arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Your next question I'm sure is, "so where do I get my calcium"?
PLANT sources such as chia seeds, greens, including collard green, turnip greens, kale and spinach, hemp, blackstrap molasses, sessame seeds, almond butter and even beans offer a plethora of calcium without the acidity and with an increased chance of absorption.
While more research is needed in this area, there is no question that reducing if not eliminating your dairy consumption will bring you less bloating, gas and may even help to regulate your angry bowel movements.