Written by Charlotte Campbell
Should You Give Up Dairy?
A glass of milk has long been thought of as a healthy thing to consume. But increasingly, the tide has been turning against traditional dairy products. Is this fair? Or is milk just getting a bad press?
Vegans cite the dairy industry as largely unethical and unnecessary for our body’s needs. But could quitting dairy from a fitness perspective improve your health?
So what’s so bad about dairy?
Dairy has been linked to a whole host of health problems. Dairy ditchers have attributed better skin (including clear ups of eczema) and curing hay fever to cutting it out. Research suggests that over half of the adult population actually struggle to digest the sugars (lactose) in dairy correctly. This can lead to bloating, digestive pain and stomach problems.
Isn’t dairy good for your bones?
Dairy is a good source of calcium. This means it does have a positive effect on the strength of our bones. However, you can also find high levels of calcium in leafy greens, nuts and some fruits. So, if you’re into high-impact sports, don’t fret about fractures and breaks. If you go dairy free, make sure you consume calcium through other means and you’ll have no issues.
Will cutting out dairy help me lose weight?
There is no real evidence to suggest that giving up dairy from a balanced diet will make you lose extra weight. However, if your body has been struggling to digest lactose, you may find a dairy free life gives you more energy. This, in turn, would, of course, make you more likely to be active and burn more calories.
Also, if you are prone to indulging in high-fat dairy products like cheese, butter and cream, you may find that ditching these will have an effect on weight loss. In addition, a common culprit of consuming plenty of calories without knowing is the milky coffee. Giving up lattes, frappuccinos and the like could also have an effect.
Are low fat or non-dairy alternatives healthier?
Low-fat dairy products can be a minefield of added sugar. In the same way, as reduced sugar products can end up being worse for you than the real deal, so can low fat products end up adding lbs to your body. The same can be true of non-dairy products. Almond milk, for example, can be loaded with sugar to improve its taste.
The key is to thoroughly read the ingredients label. If there’s a whole load of stuff you don’t understand, or a whole load of sugar, just leave it on the shelf.
It’s also worth noting that full-fat products contain healthy fats that low-fat products lack. This can be important for absorbing minerals and vitamins into the body. So you’ll likely get much more benefit from full-fat yoghurt with mixed fresh fruits than with a low-fat version.
So should I give up dairy or not?
It’s rarely advisable to give up a whole food group. However, it may be worth experimenting with lowering or cutting dairy for a couple of weeks and measuring what changes (if any) you experience. Then you can work out at what level dairy can be incorporated into your nutritional plans.