If you regularly enjoy decadent ice cream, flavorful cheeses, or creamy yogurt, it’s hard to imagine a life without dairy, but a dairy-free lifestyle is becoming more and more commonplace. Whether it’s a necessary shift due to either a lactose or casein (milk protein) intolerance or a voluntary change, eliminating dairy from your diet can produce numerous health benefits. Certified naturopath nutritionist Pamela Reilly makes a good case for this special diet, saying, “Let's face it we are not cows, so it may be difficult to digest milk from another species.”
For people who are not dairy intolerant, but suffer from other health issues such as seasonal allergies, asthma, or acne, taking it out of their diet may help ease their maladies. Reilly explains, “Dairy is known to increase mucous production in the body, so eliminating dairy is often very helpful for those with asthma, seasonal allergies, etc. There is also a direct link between dairy consumption and acne, so eliminating dairy often creates much clearer skin.”
Besides helping people who have these ailments, removing dairy from the diet of an entirely healthy person may help prevent potential diseases. Nancy Guberti, certified nutritionist, presents a very convincing rationale for staying away from dairy. “According to the book The China Study, dairy has been linked to breast and prostate cancers,” cautions Guberti.
The number one concern people have when they stop consuming dairy is that they will not get the calcium that they need. According to Reilly, this is not something to worry about, because dairy is not even the best source of calcium. She recommends instead incorporating calcium-rich foods such as dark, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, particularly chia and sesame (or tahini). To get your daily-recommended dose of calcium quickly and easily, Guberti recommends juicing two heads of lacinto kale, a lemon, a carrot, and an apple for a delicious and nutritious drink.
There are dozens of options to replace the usual cow’s milk-based milks, butters, cheeses, and yogurts that you use every day. Most grocery stores carry soy, almond, coconut, and hemp-based goods (Reilly prefers hemp milk because of the higher protein and Omega-3 fatty acids content as well as the creamier texture). The broadest selection, however, will most likely be found at your local Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or independent health food store. Start down the path to health by going dairy-free and stopping at one of these local stores to stock up on your new favorite groceries!