Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Health Nut: To Dairy or Not to Dairy?

I am going to start a new category of posts called "Health Nut"... under this category I will post about ideas that I get from health literature that I have reviewed.  I would love it if friendly informative discussions could be evolved from the topics posted under this title.

My mother in law has been struggling with low energy for quite some time now.  She has seen many doctors and tried so many things from therapies to vitamins recommended by everyone, including me.  She just can't seem to break through it.

Dave and I started overhauling our highly processed diet because of a couple of documentaries we watched on Netflix.  I highly recommend them, if you haven't watched them already.  One is called "Food Matters" and the other is called "Hungry For Change."  You don't realize how many CHEMICALS you ingest in things that you buy processed.  Do the research yourself, I really don't want to preach at anyone.  You all are big girls and boys, you can decide for yourself what you think your body will run better on.

Back to my mother in law.  After Dave and I decided to make so many changes, she decided to start doing her own search for better health and nutrition.  She came across some books involving food-combining and health makeovers.  She purchased these books for me as well, isn't she so sweet? ha.  So, I have started reading one of them.

The book is called "The 30 Day Total Health Makeover" by Marilu Henner.   I know, sounds like a gimmick of a title.  ha.  I began browsing and found myself getting upset at a couple of the things she expected me to give up.  I have already cut most refined sugar out of my diet.  All of my sugars come from raw honey, raw sugar, and whole grains.  The problem came when she wants to take away my caffine!  DUDE!  That is my stress relief!  You can't take away my coffee, tea, and chocolate... yes, I know you can find decaf versions of coffee and tea... but seriously?  I can't give up chocolate.  Sorry... nope.  Then she wanted to take away my dairy!  Milk, cheese, yogurt, ICE CREAM, lattes and again chocolate! 

After reading a little bit of what she had to say about milk, I can understand, it makes sense.  A lot of people have some degree of lactose intolerance and that is because they lack the enzyme lactase to digest milk sugars (lactose) properly.  It makes one wonder if the reason why some of us have the enzyme and some don't is because we weren't meant to consume lactose, and some of us developed the enzyme through adaptation.  I don't know, I'm just guessing right now, but I have loosely read a few research articles on cows milk, and the research so far has supported that we do not have to drink milk, that we can get just as much calcium from nuts and dark leafy greens.  Milk is simply the more convenient way to get calcium.  I am going to be researching it more, but I am very interested in getting thoughts on a dairy free lifestyle, and how would one approach it with a toddler and kids?  I have tried almond milk before and wasn't thrilled, I might need to give it another try.  I can't do soy milk because the phytoestrogens are supposed to be dangerous for women who have elevated risk of breast cancer... ahem.  I do.  Soy is out.

I would love for you all to weigh in.  Please only responses that you can back up with either experience or literature.  I do not want opinions on dairy as much as I want facts to back up either keeping dairy in the diet or eliminating dairy from the diet (opinions with facts are highly welcome, though!).  If you are living a no dairy lifestyle, then I would love to hear how you do it and how it effects your children if you have any.


  1. Ah Amy, I used to have so many articles about milk consumption (several computers and crashes ago). If I can find them I will send them to you. All seemed carefully researched some were pro, some were con on dairy consumption. Ultimately it comes down to you and your doctor. But being fairly educated on the subject is important. (by fairly I mean both sides, not a measure of education).

    I won't give up my dairy until I cannot have dairy at all. Ha! And that can happen. It happened to my mother. But she didn't want to give it up completely so her doctor told her to take Lactaid with EVERYTHING she ate. Because so many things contain some form of dairy. Taking the Lactaid helped her immensely. It comes in liquid form but it is bitter; she took the pill form.

    Marilu Henner has done her research but I can't say that it was done "fairly." She is pretty radical. I need to look at her book again. I just don't know if I have the energy to follow it. ;) I know that I won't give up everything she says we need to give up. I find that she has habits that I find questionable. I tend to think she practices a situational lifestyle (kinda like situational's what makes her comfortable). Just my thoughts on her choices.

    OK I will stop before my comment is longer than your post. (It may already be too long =/)
    Lily-thinking thoughts

    1. Thanks Lillian. I still have this other book that she (my MIL) got... it's by the same lady... but I thought that book had a lot better information that wasn't too "crazy health lady". I think what I might take is a "less is more" approach for now. I think, where I can, I will substitute dairy with good alternatives. I have never had a problem digesting dairy... I don't think... I am one of the lucky people who have the enzyme lactase. I do not really have a doctor... I just have my basic knowledge of human physiology and nutrition to go by. I know what NOT to deprive my body of. The only thing this makes me question is the necessity of milk and will my over-all health be better by eliminating it. Yeah, I don't think I will adhere to her no caffeine ideas. I don't consume enough of it to be a problem. I have 1 - 2 glasses of tea a day, maybe a coffee every week, and I drink 72 oz. water daily... yes I sound defensive, ha... but IT'S NOT A PROBLEM! I AM NOT ADDICTED TO CAFFEINE!!! ha ha ha ha. I am joking. I really am not addicted. ;) So I'm not going to put a priority on cutting it from my diet.

      My primary reason for posting health related issues is to get people to think about what they put in their body and why... and also to encourage myself to think about it.

    2. It is always good to get people thinking. I will say that I've cut back on my milk consumption, it has as much to do with health as with finances. I cannot drink skim milk, it's oddly colored and weird tasting water to me so I drink 2%. Since I am trying to lose weight I drink it in strong moderation. But I do love cheese!

      You don't sound defensive at all. Or addicted, just heavily into liking your tea and coffee. ;) Your water consumption is fabulous! I've been drinking more water. But I am real picky. Republic water tastes terrible so I drink bottled or filtered and it has to be ice cold!

      Keep doing what you're doing, it sounds like you're on the right road.

    3. Well, I didn't know who Henner was, but a friend of mine enlightened me and she really isn't reliable is she? Well, I'll look into more reliable research on the matter. Thanks!

      ALSO! I know you have sensitivity to MSG, you should now that low fat and non fat milk is a source of free glutamic acid. That might contribute to some of your migraines??? I learned about this in one of the health docs I watched and also if you look up "low fat milk a source of free glutamic acid" it will pull up information on it.

    4. Glutamic acid doesn't give me migraines, it is specifically MSG. I have done the process of elimination routine to find out what gives me migraines. Last test (a few years ago) there wasn't any specific food source that did it. (Like milk or breads or chocolates). I've known about MSG for a number of years, it does more than give me a migraine, it does nasty things to me like make me pass out. However, recently I discovered that aspartame, even in small amounts gives me killer migraines! I personally don't believe all the hype about sweeteners because every time I look into the studies I find that they are SEVERELY flawed. Neither do I believe they are harmless. Like everything else out there, *someone, somewhere* is going to have a problem with it.

      OK long answer to your question. Thank you for thinking about it. I always appreciate suggestions that make sense.

  2. I've thought of giving up dairy, not all, but some. I don't really drink a lot of milk to begin with, but this girl needs cheese. Cutting back and substituting almond milk sounds like a good idea in my brain. I've been trying to cut back on all the processed food and it hasnt been too bad. Finding spice mix recipes instead of buying packaged crap is fun. I still have some boxes of mac and cheese for days when I just cant deal with making lunch or dinner. Bad miranda.

    1. Miranda! I love making my own spice mixes. It tastes so much better!

  3. Lovely post! I really enjoyed this post. I rarely do dairy (milk) or soy. But I do enjoy almond and coconut! The Trader Joes brand is my favorite! I don't do a lot of processed sugars, I stick to agave nectar and stevia. I don't eat a lot of meat, and the only dairy I consume is greek yogurt. I may need to switch to a yogurt alternative.

    Some books I've liked:
    The Kind Diet and Crazy Sexy Diet. Both are vegan, but share a lot of information. I don't believe everything, but we do need to make conscious decisions of what we put into our body.

    Have you watched Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead and Food Inc.? Those are some of my favorite food documentaries. Also, try Flow - It's all about water!

  4. I don't eat dairy, I should say I 'can't' eat dairy, I'm allergic to it.
    But through my studies in Naturopathic Nutrition I learned a lot about what's good and bad about dairy.

    Basically my discovery was that the best part of the milk is the fat, especially for kids. But people would rather have a lot of skim milk than a little full fat, it shocks me that most dairy-based baby formulas are also made with skim milk powder. A little saturated fat is needed in our diets, but people are so afraid of it.

    And yes, isn't it strange that some of us have lactase and some of us don't?

    Dairy is a good source of calcium, that's true, but there are other good sources too. Soy, leafy greens and tahini are just a few examples.

    And as for the estrogen problem, soy is very controversial due to estrogen and aluminum content. But what I learned was that women have estrogen receptors in their breast tissue, uterine tissue and ovarian tissue, these receptors take in estrogens by grabbing onto them - and once they're full no other estrogen can contact the receptor while the other estrogen is in it. Soy contains phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), which are a hell of a lot better than xenoestrogens (estrogen imitators) which you can get from tap water, plastics, GMOs, etc. Xenoestrogens are dangerous, and can cause hormonal problems and more serious health problems. So the way I look at it, wouldn't you rather your estrogen receptors be full of natural esotrogen than a nasty one?

    My 3 year old doesn't eat dairy in her "normal" diet, and she's happy and healthy. I've had 2 children and breastfed both of them without eating dairy, I take a calcium supplement at the moment because I'm breastfeeding and need a little extra, which is normal for diary-eating women too.

    Then there's the whole animal rights issue, but that's totally down to personal choice.

    We learned about the good and bad sources of dairy also. Un-homogenized full fat milk is the best for you health wise, as well as feta and ricotta cheeses and natural yoghurts. The bad sources of dairy are the skim milks and yellow cheeses.

    Hope I helped a bit :)

  5. For me, lack of dairy has made me feel better. Don't get me wrong though. I screw up and have cheese and ice cream. It's not easy to make a complete switch. We have been trying to slowly cut out. We started with the milk. We didn't drink much anyway so it was a fairly easy adjustment to switch to almond milk in our cooking and cereal. We buy unsweetened and use stevia or liquid stevia to sweeten if necessary. Finding almond ice cream has helped when we need a sugar fix. The main thing I notice is how congested I feel after having dairy. It's crazy how fast it comes on and makes you feel bad. We've been working on eating vegan and it is so hard for me. Steven has been reading a book called the Starch Solution and that has been the most helpful for him. Especially in helping us to plan meals. I'm hoping to read this one soon. I feel like this comment isn't really making sense but overall I think we've made good steps ourselves into changing this and I hope to do even better in the future. I'm anxious to know if you are noticing a difference?


I appreciate you taking the time to add your thoughts to this post!