Should I Drink Milk?

Are you a baby cow?

Fun Fact: At birth, a baby cow weighs about 60-100 lbs and weighs anywhere from 450 to 700 lbs by the time it is 6-10 months old. By consuming mostly mother’s milk, baby cows grow 4+ times in size in less than a year.

Now, the average person in western culture that is still consuming milk past childhood is likely NOT seeking the same goal. But let’s focus on YOU. Should YOU be drinking milk?

The Answer? It depends.

Dairy is one of the top ten most common allergens and foods people are intolerant to. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is inflammatory for you. Here are a few ways consuming dairy might be a problem…

  1. Dairy allergy: Do you have an immediate immune response when you consume dairy? Symptoms could appear as headaches, migraines, hives, vomiting, digestive problems, or in severe cases, anaphylaxis.
  2. Food sensitivity/intolerance: This form of reaction usually results in delayed digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, or diarrhea.
  3. Lactose intolerance: This is the inability to digest the sugar ‘lactose’ found in dairy products. This phenomenon is actually how things are meant to work. After a baby is weaned from the mother, they usually stop producing the enzyme to digest milk, lactase. In fact, if you do keep producing the enzyme, this is called lactase persistence.

If dairy negatively affects you in any of the above ways it is likely best to simply avoid that food altogether.

What about high-quality organic milk?

Higher-quality organic milk is better, but if your body sees it as inflammatory, even with just a mild reaction, it can cause chronic inflammation that could accumulate over time. Choose a high-quality product. This means organic “grass-fed” dairy from a local farmer whose cows graze on a variety of lush green grasses.

Why? Because conventional dairy cows are typically exposed to MANY toxins during their lives in addition to being treated with antibiotics to prevent sickness and therefore loss of profit for the dairy industry.

Many of these harmful compounds are ‘fat soluble’ and end up in the animal’s milk. Free-range, grass-fed whole fat milk will also contain more nutrients.

How do I know if I should be consuming dairy?

The best way to find out if dairy bothers you….is to cut it out.

For a minimum of 3 weeks but preferably 4-6 weeks. Take notes, see if you feel better, lose weight, sleep better, have clearer skin, etc. Then add it back in slowly. If you want to get really nerdy about this, test different types of dairy like cow’s milk (both whey and casein), goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, etc.

Have a little bit of dairy (1-2 oz.) with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then remove it for 2-3 days and watch for signs and symptoms such as gas, bloating, altered bowel movements, breakouts, headache, migraines, brain fog, or a general feeling of being “less than awesome” or “yucky.”

If no such “yucky” feelings appear… Congratulations! It looks like you have lactase persistence or your microflora (gut bacteria) seem to be doing a good job of digesting dairy for you!

Whether diary is a beneficial component of your diet or not, most of our meals should consist of many colorful plants, vegetables, fruit, high-quality fats, high-quality animal and plant proteins, and organic whole grains if well-tolerated.

If you have any further questions, schedule an appointment with a OnePeak Medical Fitness & Nutrition Adviser for one-on-one support. Appointments are covered by most major insurances.

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