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Are You a Dairy Queen?

If you or a friend have ever been to a naturopath you probably know that we're not huge fans of the effect dairy has on the body. Don't get me wrong I love a cheese platter as much as the next person (possibly more), but I've also seen first-hand how much healthier people feel when they're a little frugal with their dairy consumption.


What I want you to know is that we don't try and steer people away from all forms of dairy (unless they're intolerant) - it's more the non-fermented kind like processed cheese, conventional milk, cream and ice cream. Having kefir, yoghurt, grass-fed butter and, or, a little raw (or organic, grass-fed) milk can be fine if your body says so. The REASON we encourage people to explore dairy alternatives is legitimate and I'm going to share it with you below. There is so much controversy around this topic and whenever I have a conversation about it, there is always someone who grew up on a dairy farm who wants to challenge my opinion, and that's OK - I'm not going to pretend to understand the exact dairy farming practices around the world but I can share my experience with patients in clinical practice. It's true, some of us are OK with cows milk in our coffee and a bowl of ice cream before bed but many people aren't.


Usually, for women trying to get eradicate hormonal symptoms, and become free of digestive issues, pain or inflammation, eating dairy can be counterproductive. Let me tell you, WHY.



If you've got a dairy intolerance, it's causing inflammation (because you can't break it down properly), but there are other reasons too. Most dairy is acid-forming and can stimulate mucus production (although Dairy Australia says otherwise). Ever get phlegmy after a bowl of ice cream or a glass of milk? It's the dairy and sugar you can thank.



"Milk — pasteurized, canned, or dry — is an acid-forming food. Its pH level is below neutral at about 6.7 to 6.9. This is because it contains lactic acid. Remember, though, that the exact pH level is less important than whether it’s acid-forming or alkaline-forming. Other dairy products like butter, hard cheeses, cottage cheese, and ice cream are also acid-forming. Yogurt and buttermilk are alkaline-forming foods despite having low pH levels between 4.4 and 4.8. The American College of Healthcare Sciences notes that raw milk is also an exception; it may be alkaline-forming. " (Thanks healthline)


When Something Is Acidic and Mucus-forming, It Can Mean Two Things.


First, our body has to work harder to maintain our normal pH and this means taking calcium from the bones to buffer acidity in the blood. Secondly, if you suffer from allergies or respiratory issues, excess mucus in the system will keep you feeling congested and unwell.


Another important reason why women should avoid dairy is hormone sensitivity. Most of the milk products on supermarket shelves contain oestrogen which is transferred from the dairy cow into the milk that she produces. As much as 80% of oestrogen consumed in the average Western diet is sourced from dairy foods. If you have hormonal concerns (like relative oestrogen excess for example) which are affecting your health, drinking milk every day may be exacerbating your symptoms.


Bear in mind that oestrogen also has growth-stimulating effects (just as it causes the female body to grow and mature during puberty), it can also cause the proliferation of hormone-sensitive tissue (like breasts and the endometrial lining).


If there's no way you're giving up dairy then an important consideration is what dairy you purchase. While homogenization and pasteurization serve a purpose they're not essential and come with some downsides. I'm not about to get into this now but what I'll suggest is that you find a health food store or local farmer that can offer you raw or organic/biodynamic products and look out for cow alternatives such as buffalo, sheep and goat’s milk as they're lower in lactase (the sugar in milk) and easier to digest.


"When you drink milk that is homogenized and pasteurized, you’re basically getting a (safe, but) 'dead' beverage that is lacking in nutrients. Although pasteurized and homogenized organic milk is certainly better than non-organic milk, organic grass-fed raw milk is even better. The nutritional bottom line is that pasteurization and homogenization destroy nutrients and proteins, make healthy fats rancid, and cause free radicals to form in the body. They denature milk by altering its chemical structure."


Non-dairy Alternatives 


Milk

Nut, grain or seed milk.

Try almond, oat, rice, cashew, coconut, walnut, pistachio, hazelnut, macadamia, Brazil nut, rice, non-GM organic soy or hemp. There are so many on the supermarket shelves now it can be confusing. I recommend making your own. It's SO easy. All you need are your ingredients, nut milk bag and a blender.


Yoghurt  

Try coconut yoghurt. There are a few good quality varieties in the supermarket like Nakula, Cocobella and Coyo or you can make your own at home. Stay tuned I'll be posting a recipe to the blog soon.


Cheese 

Nut cheeses are a better alternative to dairy cheese. Many are made with cashew, coconut oil and nutritional yeast as their main ingredients. They’re surprisingly delicious just read the label of whatever you find and avoid soy based ones and skip the additives/preservatives.


What if I’m Not Intolerant To Dairy?


You might not be diagnosed as lactose intolerant but surprisingly, three-quarters of the Western population lack the enzyme lactase which helps to digest lactose. As a result, these individuals experience digestive issues and might not even realise it. Most people begin to produce less lactase after they’re weaned off breast milk as infants or toddlers and our body simply isn't designed to drink the breast milk of another animal.


Studies also indicate that when it comes to preventing osteoporosis, milk may actually increase women’s risk of getting the disease. You should, however, get enough calcium, but this does not mean you must obtain it through dairy – in fact, dairy-free sources don't carry any risks. 


Did you know that on average, we only absorb 30% of the calcium in milk, yoghurt, and cheese? However, we absorb twice the amount found in veggies like kale, broccoli, bok choy, spinach, tahini, almond and other plant foods sources!


If you want more personalised guidance with your diet, book a nutritional consultation with me here, or connect for a free 10 minute call.


In today's health-conscious age, determining what to eat can be incredibly confusing. Everyone seems to be fixed on one 'right' diet which leaves little room for flexibility or considering the needs of your unique body. In consultation, we cut through the bs and figure out together exactly what foods work for you; your needs, your lifestyle and your desires. The aim is to make food feel easy, delicious and guilt-free while also nourishing your body and senses.



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