For many of us, dairy is one of those guilty pleasures which we know we should avoid but just tastes too good to completely phase out of our lives. Milk is one thing, but what about the cream you add to your coffee, the yoghurt you have for breakfast, and the enormous variety of cheeses which demand to be eaten?
On the other hand, what about the potential negative side effects such as bloating, asthma, eczema, and all the rest? Here are some questions to ask yourself, so you can decide whether or not you should cut dairy out of your life.
Question one: are you lactose intolerant?
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a type of sugar found in dairy products. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Stomach bloating, cramps and rumbling
Lactose intolerance is extremely common in certain ethnic populations and less so in others. Over 90% of East Asians are lactose intolerant, while only between 20-40% of native Europeans are.
How severe the intolerance is will vary from individual to individual. You might be able to enjoy small amounts of dairy occasionally without noticing any symptoms, or you might not. In any case, dairy is best limited or avoided altogether in the lactose intolerant.
Question two: do you suffer from acne?
Dairy causes acne to flare up. This is common knowledge for many sufferers, but it’s also backed up by a 2013 review of the available data. The high sugar content of full-fat milk appears to be bad for acne, and skim milk is apparently even worse most likely due to the hormones it contains.
Question three: are you trying to lose weight?
Dairy products are notoriously high in calories. 100ml of whole milk contains about 60 calories, while 100g of cheddar cheese contains about 400 calories.
The tricky thing here is that these calories are so dense and concentrated that you could easily ruin your entire diet just by adding a bit of whole milk to your coffee, or eating a couple of bites of cheese with your lunch. If you’re on a weight-loss mission, it is best to do yourself a favour and cut the dairy.