Eliminating dairy is one of the major things that changed my body for the better. This notion will be easier for some to “digest” than others because who doesn’t love ice cream, cheese, and cereal? It’s hard to imagine our lives without it. But for me, the benefits I saw to my body encouraged me to continue on a dairy free diet for good.
Health benefits of a dairy free diet
The major benefits I noticed were: elimination of mucus and water retention (this was the key that melted away the extra 5 pounds that hung on no matter how “good” I was being with exercise and diet), major reduction in catching colds and flu, and more energy with a sense of lightness and well being.
Like all lifestyle changes, this was hard right away, but by sticking with it (I’ve been “dairy free” over 20 years, and still have strong teeth and great bones!) eventually you actually won’t miss it.
Dairy free diet must haves:
Ice cream: Coconut milk, rice milk, and almond milk alternatives, are all available and delicious. And don’t forget about sorbet – usually dairy free!!
Milk for cereal and baking: Coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk, oat milk, and flax milk, are all available, and it can be fun to experiment and find your favorite.
Yogurt: Coconut and rice are my favorite. If you LOVE yogurt and that is why you eat it, then try those alternatives. If you are eating it for the benefit of the healthy bacteria then try a therapeutic product like Bio-K+ and get more bang for your buck!
Cheese: Rice, almond, cashew, and soy alternatives are available. (be careful not to overdo it on the soy) You will have the best luck with “singles” and “shredded” varieties. Honestly, once your palate has changed, you have cleaned up your diet and stopped the over-consumption of dairy products, you will find yourself only wanting these substitutes every once in a while.
What about calcium?
We are led to believe that milk is the only and best source of calcium. It is true that milk does contain calcium, however, it is bound to the protein in milk called casein, which for some is an allergen. Additionally, the calcium and casein compete for absorption, making it hard for us to effectively utilize the calcium.
The dairy we consume is also pasteurized, a process that degrades the calcium making it difficult to utilize. This is an excerpt from the book “Fit for Life”: “The irony is that people are consuming dairy products for calcium, and the existing calcium in their systems is being used to neutralize the (acidic) effects of the dairy products they are eating.”
Practically all foods we eat from the earth contain calcium. If you eat a wide variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, and stop drinking soda and eating refined sugar, it would be virtually impossible to obtain a calcium deficiency.
Also note: The US has the greatest intake of dairy products and calcium supplements and also has the highest rate of osteoporosis. Additionally, humans are the only mammal on the planet that continues to drink milk after the age of being weaned, and the only species that drinks the milk of other mammals.
How will you decide?
Try it yourself. Minimize your intake for 2-4 weeks, and then completely cut it out of your diet for 2-4 weeks. In that amount of time you should be able to sense how dairy consumption affects you – if at all.
If getting enough calcium still concerns you, there are always supplements. But before you go out and buy a calcium supplement, you must read this post.