Dairy has been a hotly debated topic in nutrition for a long time. Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? How much should we consume? and the questions go on and on. There is so much confusion surrounding dairy and its perceived benefits and drawbacks that we thought its time to sort through the misinformation being disseminated at the moment and try to provide some clarity. Some of the disadvantages of consuming dairy products (including conventional cheese, skimmed milk, 1% fat milk, and conventional milk products) are as follows:
1- Milk Will Stop The Fat Burning Process
The problem with milk is that it has something called “insulinotropic effect” which means that when you drink your happy cup of milk, your body releases the hormone “insulin” – which regulates blood sugar. Not only that, it makes the insulin rise for many hours afterwards. What does that have to do with fat loss?, you may ask. Well, insulin is an inhibitor of the growth hormone, which is the ultimate fat burning hormone. This means that when you have high insulin levels from drinking milk or eating so many carbohydrates it will slow down the GH (growth hormone) to a resting state, which will literally put a stop to the fat burning process. So, it is absolutely imperative to NOT drink milk before a workout.
2- Milk Is Loaded With Chemicals, Antibiotics, Lactose (milk sugar), and GMO (genetically modified organisms)
Antibiotics in milk can kill healthy gut bacteria (probiotics) which are now believed to be the most important “organ” of our bodies for maintaining a disease-free life. Lactose (milk sugar) can’t be digested by most adults (we lack the lactase enzyme we used to have when we were babies) which can leave you with diarrhea and digestive issues. Hormones (IGF-1, Estrogen and GH) in milk can cause our tissues to grow haphazardly and turn cancerous. Chemicals and GMO (genetically modified organisms) in milk can cause cancer too and metabolic disorders like diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
3- Milk Can Increase Bone Loss
Milk is highly acidic and the body responds to that by breaking down calcium in your bones to buffer that issue. So it can actually make your bones weaker. A study from Yale, on protein intake and fracture rates, showed that seventy percent of fractures were associated with animal protein. Strengthen your bones by eating leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, or sources of omega 3 like salmon and sardines, as well as taking vitamin D3 supplements and magnesium.
4- Milk Is Not Nutritious Anymore
In the glorious past, before the advent of industrialized agriculture, cows were raised in a truly organic way, the way nature intended. That is, they weren’t injected with antibiotics, hormones , and chemicals and ate grass. Nowadays, the dairy industry is feeding cows grains instead of grass to reduce cost which has led to the development of acidic stomach in cows, which, in turn, has caused infectious bacteria and inflammatory by-products in milk produced from those cows.
5-Milk Can Cause Cancer
Casein in milk and cottage cheese can cause sensitivity like gluten in wheat does and can cause weight gain, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer. A study by the National Institute of Health, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research found that there was a strong relationship between casein intake and the promotion of cancer cell growth. Another Study conducted by Harvard found that dairy increases the risk of prostate cancer in men by the double.
Solutions and alternatives
1- Drink/eat natural milk/cheese produced from grass fed cattle, with natural fat content. (That’s if you’re already lean and not looking to lose weight).
2- Replace conventional milk with non-dairy alternatives like nut milks, such as almond milk or coconut milk. Soy milk has been shown to increase the female hormone estrogen and can interfere with normal thyroid function.
3- Eat Greek yogurt. It has more proteins and beneficial bacteria than regular yogurt.
4- Cook with natural butter or ghee when you’re on a low carb diet. Saturated fats can resist heat and increase testosterone hormone.
5- Take whey protein to increase muscle mass and reduce risk of chronic diseases. Whey protein has no casein and hydrolyzed whey has no lactose.
6- Whole fat milk from organic cows has the fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) and CLA which are very healthy for our bodies.
7- Some cheese has been shown to help in weight loss like cottage cheese but that was because participants were reducing their overall caloric intake. But, as a general rule, it is not advisable. I personally prefer goat cheese and halloumi over cottage or other cheese as it has slightly less lactose and is easier to digest for most people.
Finally, it seems animal fat from grass-fed cattle is actually healthy fat. We’ll talk about the benefits of fats later.