Are you still on the fence about giving up dairy for good? Most of the women I talk to have a huge love for dairy, especially cheese. If asked what food they’d miss most if they had to give it up, it would be some type of dairy. And this is unfortunate, especially as most of the women I work with want to boost their energy, lose a few inches, and stop feeling like a slave to their body and symptoms.
Dairy is the #2 food I tell all my clients to ditch…at least for a few months. #1 is refined sugar, in case you were wondering.
The Case For Ditching Dairy
Why would we want to give up dairy? I mean, for many decades, we’ve been told that dairy is the best source of calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Plus, it’s a great source of protein!
Well, the truth is, much of the calcium in dairy isn’t absorbed by your body anyway. And as a protein source? It’s okay but the other things in dairy contradict the health benefits of the protein.
All dairy, regardless of whether it is fermented, organic or non-organic, contains a LOT of extra hormones. Plus, depending on where the cows were kept, dairy could contain antibiotics as well as steroids and pesticides. Not to mention the fact that a lot of commercial dairy cattle are fed GMO soy and corn. This means that cow’s milk and its products contain a lot of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
Dairy cattle in the US are also injected with genetically modified growth hormones (at least, the FDA allows for this).
Think about this: A cow is supposed to naturally be pregnant for about 5 months of the year. Cow’s milk is naturally designed to help baby calves grow big and strong, so the protein and nutrients are meant to make the animal big quite quickly.
However, dairy cattle are kept pregnant for almost 10 months of the year in order to produce more milk for consumers. This means estrogen and other hormone levels become more concentrated the longer that poor cow is pregnant!
Health Problems Associated with Dairy
When women consume a lot of dairy – cheese, milk, yogurt – they continually get excess hormones that interfere with their bodies’ natural hormonal cycles.
Dairy contains natural sugars – lactose, for example – so over time the surge in these sugars can lead to insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, you get cravings for more sugar or sweets and excessive or unexplained hunger.
Another problem with high levels of insulin in the blood is acne. Ditching dairy was probably the best choice I made for helping to clear up my skin because my insulin balanced and my hormones started to regulate.
High levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in cow’s dairy impact your own hormones too. And high levels of estrogen and testosterone lead to mood swings and PCOS.
Estrogen Dominance and Dairy
One of the most common fat storage problems women have after the age of 40 is estrogen dominance. (But, we can start to see this in our early 30s too!)
With changing levels of estrogen and progesterone as we age, and with our exposure to xenoestrogens, we can create an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. Add in chronic stress and we are left with even less progesterone to counteract the estrogen running rampant in our bodies.
Estrogen dominance not only leads to fat storage but is one of the primary causes of fibroids and female reproductive cancers.
For the average North American woman, around 80% of her dietary estrogens come from dairy.
Full Fat versus Non Fat Dairy
Depending on your dietary practices, you may prefer full-fat dairy over non-fat. Keto is a great example of a diet that hasn’t taken into account the problems with dairy and how it negatively affects a woman’s hormones.
Everywhere I look, keto diet advocates are promoting cheese crust keto pizzas or the chaffle (a waffle made entirely of cheese) and other super cheese- or cream-heavy foods.
This is super scary!
Women who follow traditional keto rich in dairy products are setting themselves up for a hormonal nightmare!
Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are fat-soluble. Which means that fat attracts these hormones, making full-fat dairy higher in hormones than non-fat dairy.
Full-fat dairy also puts a toxic load on the liver, because toxins are also fat-soluble.
When you consume a lot of high-fat dairy, you’re also consuming extra estrogens and toxins that your poor liver has to try to neutralize and get rid of.
These “artificial” hormones and toxins make it almost impossible to metabolize your natural hormones, leading to problems like estrogen dominance and insulin resistance.
One of the main reasons women who follow traditional keto still crave sweets is because the high amounts of dairy have created an insensitivity to insulin.
Poor insulin sensitivity = cravings.
But what about non-fat dairy?
Well, it isn’t much better. While it has fewer toxins and hormones, when the natural fat is removed, more sugars are added to increase the flavor. Again, this leads to insulin insensitivities, cravings, and, yes, more belly fat.
What Are My Options?
In my ideal world, you will go out and never touch any type of dairy again!
But, I get that this may be hard, especially if you’re a dairy lover.
The good news is that there are quite a few options to still enjoy your favorite foods without traditional cow’s dairy.
If you must eat cheese, goat’s milk cheese is your best option. It’s less inflammatory and contains way fewer hormones and toxins. But, don’t go overboard – try to minimize goat’s cheese to 1-2 times per week in a small serving.
There are lots of dairy-free cheese options available at the grocery store. Daiya is one brand that offers pretty tasty cheeses. Plus, they have yogurts available too (but watch the sugar content).
For a better yogurt alternative, you can buy coconut milk yogurt. Or, pop a can of full-fat milk in the fridge and let it sit for a few hours. Once it’s “set”, remove the coconut cream and eat it with a few berries or ground nuts or seeds on top – it’s almost like yogurt!