Living dairy-free is a lifestyle and we know this firsthand. When dating, Krissy always joked her man went on a “boyfriend” diet and would lose weight after being in a relationship for a few months. With Krissy cooking meals, much of the dairy was cut from their diet. Furthermore, Nick and Mary Jo can attest to the benefits they have noticed after going dairy free.
Nick elaborates on how a dairy-free lifestyle has helped his skin and digestion:
“Dairy can definitely lead to eczema flare ups. I know from first hand experience, dairy is an unfortunate yet definite cause of my eczema flare ups.
I first started noticing the changes when I severely cut back on my dairy consumption when dating Kristina. My skin seldom flared up. The problem that I run into now that I have removed dairy almost completely from my diet (99.9ish%?) is that when I do have dairy, my system is no longer prepared for it and can struggle. The flare ups begin, the digestion reacts negatively, etc. Today, I regularly just avoid dairy in general as it is not worth the negative impact.”
Mary Jo explains how a dairy-free lifestyle led to weight loss & improved digestion:
“For most of my life I have struggled with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. I have kept daily diaries of everything I consumed, the quantity, how often I ate, the combination of foods that I ate at any one time, how I prepared the meals, and the amount of water I drank each day.
Once I took dairy out of my diet, the cramping, stomach pain and upset started to subside. I used to worry that I was going to get sick and had to plan my days and nights around that fear. I cleaned up my diet and ate much healthier.
Guess what? I lost weight in the process. Now I live a normal life almost completely dairyless. Free to be as active as I want, go on long hikes and adventures, enjoy eating out etc. I even go as far as requesting that when I order fish off the menu, that it is prepared in lemon, not butter or margarine. I have never felt better, had more energy, and I now enjoy looking at food in a whole new way. With some concessions, you can do this, too!”
Even though we have seen the benefits of living dairy free, it does not mean a dairy free diet is for everyone. The positive and negative effects of dairy are highly debated, and conflicting research is plentiful.
8 Benefits of Living Dairy Free
Before outlining the 8 potential benefits of living dairy free, please keep in mind:
- Individual differences in our nature (i.e. genes) pay a key role in how dairy affects you and your body,
- Moderation is key and goes a long way in a healthy diet, and
- Correlation does not mean causation. Dairy may be a trigger for an acne breakout, but does not cause acne.
Depending on your genes, level of dairy consumption, and medical conditions, the following are 8 examples of potential benefits of living dairy-free:
#1 Weight loss
Cutting dairy products and replacing with nut-based milk can increase the chances of burning fat and losing weight for some individuals. For example, when you compare almond milk to 1% dairy milk, one 8 oz. glass of 1% dairy milk has almost 3 times the amount of calories and 12 times the amount of carbs. Not only do dairy free milk alternatives contain fewer carbs and calories, but dairy free brands also have found ways to integrate comparable levels of protein and calcium.
#2 Clearer Skin
Dairy is often associated with an increase in acne. Even though there are a few theories on the dairy and acne connection, the one commonalty is a positive correlation between dairy and acne. A systematic review of various dairy free and acne studies showed that dairy is associated with an increase in acne in individuals 7-30 years. Furthermore, many personal anecdotes suggest that the individuals reported that their skin clears after cutting dairy out of their diet.
#3 Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to pathogens (i.e. injuries, bacteria, viruses, etc.) The link between dairy and inflammation is debated and still needs to be researched further. However, dairy products are often associated with inflammation because they are rich in saturated fats, have been linked to acne, and cause bloating for those who are lactose intolerant. Anecdotal reports suggest individuals have less stomach bloating and cramps after cutting dairy out of their diet.
#4 Reduce Medical Condition Symptoms
With how dairy is linked to inflammation, many have reported that dairy increases arthritis, acne, migraines, rashes, and other unexplained inflammation. For example, it is recommended that individuals with arthritis should reduce consumption of high-fat dairy such as cheese, cream cheese, and butter that are high in saturated fats and common inflammation triggers.
#5 Helps Your Digestion
It is estimated that 65% of the population is lactose intolerant. Individuals who are lactose intolerant experience digestive issues including gas, bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea, etc. These symptoms often occur 30 minutes to two hours after consuming lactose. For those who lack the lactase enzyme that breaks down dairy, a dairy free diet will improve their digestion. As adults age, they experience a decline in lactase enzymes that break dairy and lactose intolerance is often diagnosed later in life.
Similar to those who have lactose intolerance, those who have irritable bowel syndrome experience bloating, stomach pain, gas, and diarrhea but it can also cause constipation. How the body reacts differentiates lactose intolerance from irritable bowel syndrome. Those who have irritable bowel syndrome should avoid dairy.
#6 More Natural, Fewer Chemicals
Many cows are given growth hormones and have taken antibiotics, so these hormones and antibiotics get into the milk they produce which you in turn consume. Consumption can lead to antibiotic-resistant diseases and intake of more chemicals into the body.
#7 Prostate Cancer Prevention
Healthline suggests that high dairy consumption can increase the risk of prostate cancer. For other types of cancer, research is still unclear and the results are inconsistent.
#8 Revitalize & Energize
Many who cut dairy also report more energy. Dairy is high in amino acid tryptophan, which promotes tiredness. Furthermore, dairy is harder for the body to digest and requires more energy. When you cut dairy from your diet, you might just notice increased focus and energy, which benefits your overall wellbeing (Source).
If you are someone who has experienced inflammation, has a skin condition, experience digestive issues, or feel low on energy after consuming dairy, a low-dairy diet or a dairy-free diet may be the solution you are looking for. We have seen many of our family members and friends report similar issues, consult their doctor, keep a food diary, and ultimately realize the benefits of living dairy-free.