There are a lot of great dairy alternative products available, and you may be wondering if, as a result, it could be time for you to cut traditional dairy out of your diet. For example, there are vegan yogurt alternatives for recipes, nut milk options like cashew milk, and vegan cheese.
Cutting out dairy might not be for everyone, but often when people do, they feel they experience health benefits.
The following are things to know if it’s something you’re considering.
Is Dairy an Important Part of Your Diet?
Dairy products can provide nutrients like vitamin D, protein, and calcium. However, there are other ways to get these nutrients.
Some people, even if they don’t have a dairy allergy, have problems digesting lactose. Lactose is the sugar that’s in milk. If you have difficulties diagnosing lactose, you might experience symptoms like pain, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.
Some people might not experience symptoms with dairy, but they just prefer to avoid it because they may feel better when they don’t have it.
Replacing the Nutrients in Dairy
If you do cut dairy out, some of the things to try and incorporate into your diet to replace the nutrients include:
- Aim to have plenty of lean protein in your diet. You need around 50 to 60 grams of protein a day if you’re an adult. Protein sources include lean meats and fish. If you’re vegetarian, sources of protein you can include in your diet are tofu, whole grains, and legumes.
- Calcium can be replaced with foods like collard greens and kale, or fortified juices and breakfast cereals.
- Vitamin D is in milk, and it’s an essential nutrient that many Americans, particularly when they’re older, are deficient in. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to severe illnesses, so it’s important to make sure you get enough. You can prevent a vitamin D deficiency by getting 10 to 15 minutes of direct sunlight a day. Food-based sources of vitamin D aside from dairy include eggs, oysters, and fish.
What Are the Benefits of Eliminating Dairy?
Some of the benefits that you might see if you cut dairy out, or perhaps even just reduce your intake, include:
Diary can create oils in the body and lead to increased inflammation, both of which are linked to skin problems like acne.
Dairy isn’t always the cause of acne and skin issues, but it can be.
If you eliminate dairy, it might improve your digestion, which many people notice. For example, you might have less gas and bloating. Too much lactose from dairy can cause inflammation in your large intestine.
When you consume dairy, it can create mucus, and the protein that dairy contains can also lead to inflammation in not only your digestive tract but potentially also your thyroid. Eliminating dairy from your diet can help your thyroid health, and that may in turn boost your energy levels and help your metabolism.
When you consume dairy products, as has been mentioned, they can lead to inflammation. This can cause your bad gut bacteria to grow out of control, leading to chronic illnesses.
If you cut out dairy, your good and bad bacteria balance in your gut may stabilize.
How to Eliminate Dairy
There are easy swaps you can make in your diet if you aim to eliminate dairy.
For example, there are dairy-free versions of many of the foods you might eat. You can also be creative with what you eat, and make sure you’re eating a diet rich in nutrients so you aren’t missing anything. If you’re going to cut out dairy you might want to begin taking supplements or take a multivitamin to fill any nutritional gaps.
You can swap your cow’s milk for coconut or almond milk. Find products that aren’t sweetened—otherwise you might start consuming too much sugar.
Think about having an almond milk ice cream, and get protein from nuts.
If you love cheese, there are alternatives for this to like raw cashew cheese.
If you aren’t sure whether or not cutting out dairy could be beneficial for you, the best thing to do is speak to your health care provider or a nutritionist. They can help make sure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need from your diet and making the best decision for your health.
For the most part, you don’t need to eliminate a food group unless you have a viable reason to do so.