Back To Basics – Dairy

By: Nick Thomas

I think most of us have a love and weakness for some form of dairy. Be it extra cheese on our weekly pizza, a big bowl of ice cream on a hot day, or the coffee creamer we can’t live without each morning. There just seems to be something about dairy that makes things better. However, truth be told, most of us consume way too much dairy, and this can negatively affect several parts of our body and health that we don’t even realize.

Now I realize most of us grew up hearing, “Drink milk to have strong bones and be healthy” and your mom may have even had the “You-can’t-leave-the-table-until-you-drink-your-milk” rule. While milk may have some health benefits, the “side effects” ultimately outweigh them.

It is true that dairy products contain calcium which is associated with strong bones, but the body can only absorb so much each day and the rest goes to waste. The body’s daily requirement is roughly 600mg and easily can be gained through nutrition. Medical research actually has revealed that ultimately milk has little to no effect over bone density. By eating things like broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, and other leafy greens, you can get all the calcium needed. It is also worth noting that exercise and vitamin D gained from sunlight are important factors in the body’s ability to actively absorb the calcium.

Dairy in itself naturally creates more mucous in the human body, which on a basic level, we know makes things such as ear infections, sinus infections, and congestion in general so much worse. It also tends to cause more inflammation all over the body. In today’s world, it has to be mentioned that GMOs and pesticides our cattle are exposed to play a role in what we then ingest. This affects the purity of milk which lowers the good nutrients and increases the level of fats which cause inflammation. Those who suffer from gout, arthritis, and other chronic diseases due to inflammation should keep their dairy consumption very low, and when you do consume it, I highly recommend using grass-fed organic milk.

There are many other issues which can be intensified due to dairy consumption. Chronic digestive problems can be caused by dairy and even lactose intolerance can irritate the gut lining or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) which could be greatly improved by simply cutting out the dairy. Yet another disturbing side effect of too much dairy consumption can be a higher risk of cancer. And if this is not enough, it has also been shown that too much dairy early in life can be connected to insulin-dependent diabetes (childhood onset or type 1).

Keep in mind that these are all considerations when choosing what to put in the body. The better educated we are on foods, the better decisions can be made. It is not that dairy should not be consumed at all, but as in most things, it should be done so in moderation and with great thought as to personal health issues and overall goals.

By: Nick Thomas

Owner of Prime Performance Training, and Certified Sports Nutritionist