Should humans eat dairy? What are the downsides to eating it?

For many years, dairy products have been celebrated as essential for maintaining strong bones and overall health. However, recent research challenges this idea and suggests that dairy may not be as indispensable as once believed. Let's explore several reasons why dairy might not be necessary for optimal health, supported by relevant facts and scientific findings.

Lactose Intolerance:
About 68%* of the world's population experiences difficulty digesting lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products. This can lead to unpleasant symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramping, and stomach pain. The prevalence of lactose intolerance underscores the idea that dairy may not be suitable for everyone's digestive systems.  

Calcium Absorption:
Contrary to popular belief, studies suggest that dairy might not be the top source of calcium for maintaining robust bones. In fact, not everyone can effectively absorb the calcium present in dairy products. Fortunately, alternative sources like leafy greens or fortified plant-based milks provide adequate calcium intake, ensuring proper bone health without relying solely on dairy.  Also, calcium bioavailability is different across different sources. "For example, dairy foods have a bioavailablity of about 30% absorption so if a food label on milk lists 300 mg of calcium per cup, about 100 mg will be absorbed and used by the body. Plant foods like leafy greens contain less calcium overall but have a higher bioavailability than dairy. For example, bok choy contains about 160 mg of calcium per 1 cup cooked but has a higher bioavailability of 50%, so about 80 mg is absorbed. Therefore, eating 1 cup of cooked bok choy has almost as much bioavailable calcium as 1 cup of milk."**

Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases:
Mounting research indicates a potential connection between high dairy consumption and an elevated risk of chronic diseases. Excessive dairy intake has been associated with conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and cancer. These findings raise concerns about the long-term impact of dairy on our overall health.   Check out the China Study!

Potential Allergies and Sensitivities:
Dairy products contain proteins like casein and whey, which can trigger allergies or sensitivities in certain individuals. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort, such as digestive issues or skin reactions, to severe allergic reactions. Recognizing and addressing these allergies or sensitivities is vital, allowing individuals to avoid potential risks and explore suitable dairy alternatives for their dietary needs.

Saturated Fat and Cholesterol:
Full-fat dairy products often contain high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. FYI - most cheese is full fat, meaning it comes from whole milk with the most saturated fat and cholesterol.  Overconsumption of these components has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. It's prudent to be mindful of saturated fat and cholesterol in our dairy choices to safeguard heart health.

When it comes to dairy, it's time to reconsider its role in our diet. Lactose intolerance,  potential links to chronic diseases, allergies, the presence of saturated fat and cholesterol, and the easy access to alternative calcium sources, all demand our attention. Let's listen to our bodies, stay up-to-date with research, and make informed choices about what we eat. Prioritize your well-being and strive for a balanced approach that suits you. Remember, everyone's nutritional needs are unique, so embrace a diverse and varied diet to boost your health.

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