Is Dairy Good for Me?

Are milk and milk products such as cheese and yogurt good for you? Yes and no.

There is a subset of the population who can incorporate dairy into their diet in moderation without any problems, but tin my clinical experience, they are not the majority. In my opinion, not just some people-but most people-have a mild to severe form of dairy sensitivity. Some people are acutely aware of the harm dairy does to their bodies, as the negative effects are instantaneous and impossible to ignore. Others are unaware of it, since the symptoms are mild, delayed, or vague in nature.

Then there are those people who are aware of, but also in denial of, any problems caused by their own dairy consumption. And who can blame them? Everyone knows how great ice cream is on a hot summer day, or how convenient and delicious a bowl of yogurt with cut-up fresh fruit can be.

Dairy sensitivity is not the same as dairy allergy or lactose intolerance. Here is an explanation of each condition:

Dairy allergy, if severe enough, is a life-threatening condition. Those who have it, usually are acutely aware of it. And they avoid dairy at all cost. They usually carry an EpiPen® with them, in case of inadvertent contact with any traces of dairy. The symptoms come on within minutes, and can last more than a day.

Lactose intolerance is an inadequate amount of the enzyme needed to break down lactose (a sugar, not a protein, found in milk and milk products). The symptoms a patient might experience can be mild or intense. Those with lactose intolerance will typically experience digestive complaints such as gas, bloating, pain, loose stools, diarrhea, and in some instances nausea and vomiting. Symptoms usually begin within 2 hours of ingesting dairy products.

Dairy protein sensitivity is an array of symptoms, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Skin conditions: eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, rashes
  • Cognitive symptoms: brain fog, inability to concentrate well
  • Digestive symptoms: constipation, diarrhea, loose stools, gas, cramps, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Infections and inflammations: sinusitis, ear infections, sore throat, arthritis
  • Other direct and indirect symptoms: migraines, weight gain, water retention, worsening of seasonal allergies, hormonal imbalance.

The symptoms of dairy sensitivity can be delayed and can depend on the amount of dairy consumed, which makes pinpointing the condition very tricky.

However, in my clinical experience, many patients suffering from one or more of the above-mentioned symptoms were helped only after eliminating dairy from their diet.

In my opinion, dairy sensitivity is more common and more damaging than most people realize. This doesn’t mean you have to give up yogurt or cheese forever. It just means that, if you have dairy sensitivity and as a result you are symptomatic, you should try to be mindful about the amount of dairy you consume.

So, how would I answer the question, “is dairy good for you?” The answer depends on whether your body can break it down and digest it well without any negative symptoms.

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