Dirty Details on Dairy

You’ve probably noticed that cheese and other delicious dairy products are mysteriously missing from your G-Plans menu. Why? Let’s find out.

First of all, what is dairy? 

Dairy products are foods and food items produced from the milk of mammals. (Just to set the record straight, eggs are often grouped in with dairy, but eggs are NOT dairy).

Since cow’s milk is the most popular form of dairy, we’ll focus on that.

Nutritional composition of cow’s whole milk:

  • 87% water
  • 13% fat
  • 9% non-milk solids (3.4% protein, 4.8% lactose and 0.7% minerals)

The predominant carbohydrate in cow’s milk is lactose, which is a two-molecule sugar unit called a disaccharide, composed of glucose and galactose. The digestion of lactose requires an enzyme called lactase.

Surprisingly, 75% of the world cannot digest lactose and dairy can trigger a plethora of inflammatory responses, including:

  • Stomach distress
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Skin rashes
  • Acne
  • Hives
  • Breathing problems

Additionally, higher milk intake may be associated with increased mortality in males and females, and high milk intake may also increase the risk of prostate cancer. Dairy can be a trigger for inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and can exacerbate PMS symptoms.

Furthermore, conventionally raised cows are often fed antibiotics to encourage growth and prevent infection. As a result, non-organic, non-grass-fed cow’s milk typically contains significant pollutants and carcinogens called aflatoxins, as well as high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. A diet too high in omega-6 fatty acids can lead to inflammatory diseases and health complications.

On the contrary, grass-fed cow’s milk contains a much higher content of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may be helpful for promoting lean body mass, enhancing immune function, decreasing diabetes and heart attack risk, protecting against breast cancer, and decreasing atherosclerotic plaque.

While dairy is inflammatory and problematic for many individuals, whey protein and Greek yogurt are dairy sources that can provide benefits for certain individuals :

  • Whey protein (an isolated byproduct of milk) can be a great source of protein that may be useful for controlling blood sugar, and it is a great rapidly digested source of amino acids, which is especially helpful for athletes.
  • Greek yogurt – another great source of protein, Greek yogurt contains live lactose-metabolizing bacteria, and therefore tends to be better tolerated than an equivalent amount of milk. It’s also a great source of calcium.

In individuals that can tolerate dairy well, both whey protein and Greek yogurt can be helpful tools for increasing protein intake, controlling blood sugar, and as a dietary component for specific dietary needs for athletes, bariatric surgery, and controlling cardiovascular and metabolic complications.

Even in individuals that properly metabolize dairy, too much dairy, especially in the form of high-fat and high-sugar products such as cheese and ice cream can promote inflammation, inflammatory conditions, and increased cholesterol. Milk is also one of the most common 8 food allergens.

As a result, for most people it is wise to limit dairy consumption. This is why you’ll notice that your G-Plans meal plan doesn’t include dairy! If you do decide to consume dairy for your cheat meal, it’s best to choose grass-fed sources that are lower in toxins, higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, and less likely to contribute to inflammatory symptoms!

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