If you’ve ever had a consultation with a naturopath, there’s a good chance you’ve been put on a dairy free diet. It’s pretty much expected after seeing a naturopath.

Many people view dairy products as healthy foods that should be a regular part of the diet. After all, they are high in calcium and other minerals and a fair source of protein and fat. However, there are a lot of problems with dairy products too. They can have adverse effects on your immune system and digestive system, and the hormone residues in dairy products may raise your risk of suffering hormone problems.

These are the main reasons dairy products are problematic:

Dairy products are one of the most common foods people have an allergy or intolerance to. Food allergy or intolerance can interfere with the ability of your digestive system to function properly, potentially leading to problems like reflux, heartburn, gallbladder conditions and leaky gut syndrome. It is the protein in dairy products that promotes food intolerance. The protein is called casein. That means lactose free milk is not suitable because it still contains casein. Lactose can certainly cause some digestive discomfort for many people, but casein is responsible for more long term harmful consequences.

Dairy products contain hormone residues. It is natural for breast milk to contain hormones. Unfortunately the cow’s milk produced today is a lot higher in hormones than that produced 50 years ago. Dairy farming is big business now and each cow needs to be producing a lot more milk to be viable. It is also now standard practice to milk cows while they are pregnant. That never used to be the case. Milk is designed to make things grow very quickly; that’s why it’s given to infants. If you are an adult, you are no longer growing; unless you are growing cysts, polyps, nodules, fibroids or tumours. The hormones in dairy products can hasten the growth of all those things. The hormones in dairy products can also worsen acne, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. There is quite a bit of research to show that dairy consumption significantly increases the risk of prostate cancer.

Dairy products are mucus forming foods and they tend to thicken the body’s secretions, from the sinuses, throat, lungs and digestive tract. People who eat dairy products may have thicker bile and thick bile in the gallbladder is more likely to form sludge and eventual gallstones. Most cases of sinusitis, hay fever and postnasal drip are significantly improved on a dairy free diet.

Do you find it difficult to stay away from dairy products?

Most of our patients do struggle with this. If you need to avoid gluten or grains, there are numerous bread and cracker recipes made from almond meal or coconut flour. Gluten or grain free substitutes exist for most foods. Unfortunately there’s nothing that really replaces milk well enough. You can put almond milk or coconut milk in your coffee or tea. Heck, you can even put butter or coconut oil in there if you like.

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