Is Dairy Good for you? The Truth might surprise you!

How can consuming dairy products can effect your health?

As soon as man learned to grow its food from the land (agricultural era), dairy consumption had increased dramatically since then. Dairy proved to be healthy as well as nutritious.

However, with the advent of the scientific era, now we can know the exact nature of dairy and its health pros and cons. In this blog, we will look at both the health benefits and health hazards of dairy so you can make a better choice about consuming dairy products moving forwards.

Health Benefits of Dairy

A Lot of Nutrients:

Dairy has great nutritional value as it is packed with a lot of nutrients. Dairy contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins A, D, B1, B2, and B12, and many minerals like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, choline, and magnesium. Milk contains several antioxidants like beta carotenes which neutralize harmful free radicals and help fight inflammations. Due to their rich nutrient profile, consumption of milk and other dairy products have a positive impact on human health.

Bone Health:

Milk and dairy products are packed with bone-friendly nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, and vitamin D. Almost 99 percent of the calcium in the body is stored in teeth and bones. Also, 50 percent of bone volume is made up of proteins and around one-third of bone mass is also purely proteins. Dairy is the rich source of both calcium and proteins and it also contains vitamin D which helps in calcium absorption from blood into the bones and thus making bones stronger.

Building Muscle Mass and Hydration:

Dairy is an excellent protein source. This protein-rich diet, therefore, aids in gaining muscle mass. As muscles are entirely made up of proteins so proteins found in dairy not only help you to repair muscles after a workout but it also helps you get new lean muscles. Especially milk protein is a complete protein as it contains all of the nine essential amino acids. Due to its effectiveness, milk proteins –whey and casein- are most commonly used in protein supplements which are frequently used by bodybuilders for gaining new muscle mass. Milk is also helpful in rehydration after workouts as it restores electrolyte balance in the body fluids.

Humans have been consuming dairy products for over 7’000 years, but is it as healthy as we believe?

Helps in Weight Loss:

Dairy contains a negligible amount of carbohydrates. For instance, 100 grams of milk contains only 5 grams of carbohydrates.

Fewer carbohydrates mean fewer calories to be burnt off by the body so dairy is the perfect diet to maintain healthy body weight. In a study of 18,000 middle-aged and elderly women, it was found that eating high-fat dairy products was linked with less weight gain and therefore a lower risk of obesity. In addition to fewer carbs, proteins present in dairy make one feel full for a longer time and therefore help lowers the chances of overeating.

Impact on Blood Pressure:

Dairy is packed with important minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. All of these minerals play an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Especially, potassium keeps your blood pressure readings normal by regulating fluids and mineral balance in the body.

After looking at its pros, let us discuss how dairy can prove harmful to our health.

There are a wide range of dairy substitutes on the market today, do we even need dairy any more?

Health Downsides of Dairy

Saturated Fats:

Fats present in dairy are saturated fats. Though saturated fats are dietary fats but they are considered bad. Saturated fats increase LDL levels (bad cholesterol) in the blood which in turn raises the risk of heart diseases and stroke.

Also, high consumption of saturated fats leads to obesity and obesity is a risk factor of both heart diseases and diabetes. Every type of fats contains more than twice as many calories as carbohydrates and proteins. For example per gram of fats yield 9 calories whereas per gram of carbohydrates and proteins yield 4 calories each. Therefore the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that daily calorie intake from saturated fats should not exceed 5-6 percent.

Impact on Skin and Cancer:

Dairy stimulates insulin production and the release of a protein known as IGF-1. Elevated levels of both of these chemicals are associated with increased acne and they also raise the risk of certain cancers. Several studies have linked dairy consumption with increased risk of prostate cancer but however, more research is needed to clarify the relationship between dairy consumption and prostate cancer.

Lactose Intolerance:

Lactose intolerance is another health downside of dairy. Milk contains a sugar known as lactose. For digesting lactose, the body produces an enzyme called lactase. People who are lactose intolerant can’t produce enzyme lactase and therefore they are unable to digest lactose completely.

After infancy, 65 percent of the people can’t digest lactose properly. Though the condition is harmless its symptoms are uncomfortable and may include bloating, gas, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramps. Most of the lactose-intolerant people give up dairy foods.

Dairy products often leave people feeling bloated and uncomfortable

Milk Allergy:

It is completely different from lactose intolerance. While in lactose intolerance body can’t digest milk carbohydrate-lactose- but in milk allergy, the body shows hypersensitivity to milk proteins. Though milk from sheep, goats, buffalo, and other mammals can also cause a reaction but cow’s milk is the usual cause of milk allergy. Symptoms of milk allergy include wheezing, vomiting, asthma, diarrhea, and digestive problems. Milk allergy can also cause anaphylaxis — a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction.

Too Many Minerals:

Overconsumption of nutrients and minerals can also prove harmful sometimes. Though chances of overconsumption from a single diet are rare but however if a person has medical complications then overconsumption becomes a concern.

For instance, with kidney problems, consuming too much phosphorus or potassium can be harmful. Similarly, hypercalcemia (excessive calcium in the body) can lead to constipation, kidney stones, and even kidney failure.

For infants’ kidneys, it is really difficult to handle too many proteins and minerals of cow’s milk and therefore consumption of cow’s milk is not recommended before the age of 12 months.

Milk from intensively farmed cattle is often full of antibiotics and hormones

Hormones and Antibiotics:

Milk especially cow’s milk also contains residues of hormones and antibiotics like dioxins. These residual hormones adversely affect our reproductive, immune, and nervous systems.

Also, there is some scientific evidence that calcium and protein present in cow’s milk have acidifying effects but however, more research is needed.

Certainly, none of us will like to put our heart health at risk by consuming a lot of saturated fats of dairy. But there are also some significant environmental impacts from consuming dairy products.

Environmental Impacts of consuming dairy products

Not only is dairy risking your health, it is often said that producing meat and dairy products release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other type of food production. Recent studies have shown that avoiding meat and dairy is the single most effective way to reduce your Carbon Footprint.

Not to mention, farming livestock requires enormous amounts of land to be successful. It has often been said that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75%! That’s enough land to cover the USA, EU, China and Australia combined!

And we would still be able to effectively feed ourselves and the world without destroying natural habitats of wild animals which are slowly being driven to extinction.

The dairy industry contributes significantly to global warming

So how are you feeling about dairy products now? Do the pros outweigh the cons in your opinion? If not. read on to learn of some excellent alternatives to dairy products.

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Dairy Alternatives

After knowing the negative impacts of dairy on human health, the option of going dairy-free is worthy of consideration. Fortunately, there are healthy dairy alternatives available to us.

Going dairy-free will not only help us to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of digestive uneasiness, acne, high risks of heart diseases, and cancers but it will also address the ethical considerations of the dairy industry.

For example, a cow can live up to twenty years naturally but normally cow is slaughtered at the age of five years. Why the dairy farm owners are slaughtering cows at such a young age? Because aging cows can’t yield as much milk as younger cows can.

Over the past few years, there has been a huge range of dairy alternatives appear on the shelves!

Similarly, dairies impregnate cows annually for maximizing milk production. After giving birth, calves are separated from their mothers at the age of two days! Is it ethical? Is it not cruelty to calves?

What happens to these innocent calves? Generally, male calves supply the veal industry and you can’t stop it because dairies are driving the veal industry.

The dairy industry has a lot to answer for

So, if you are considering going dairy-free then we will compare the nutritional value of dairy with some other nutritious foods and will suggest suitable alternatives for every dairy food in the following section.

Is Dairy the only Protein-rich Food?

Fortunately, dairy is not the only source of protein. On the contrary, there is a wide range of high protein vegan foods.

Chickpeas, lentils, beans, green peas, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, mushrooms, peanuts, almonds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are excellent plant-based protein sources.

These plant-based foods not only provide you the required protein but also help in protecting your health as they contain additional vital nutrients like vitamins, minerals, dietary fibers, and other antioxidant compounds. Also, plant-based protein is much superior to animal-based protein.

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Vegan Protein is Superior to Animal-based Protein

Proteins are made up of tiny molecules known as amino acids. Scientists have recognized that twenty of them are the building blocks of almost every naturally occurring protein.

Out of these twenty amino acids, the human body can make only eleven amino acids but not the remaining nine ones. These nine amino acids are called essential amino acids which must be derived from the diet.

If a protein contains all of the essential amino acids then it is known as a complete protein and on the other hand, if a protein lacks in any of the essential amino acids then it is called incomplete protein.

Vegan protein, the joke of a generation

Many of the vegan proteins are in-complete proteins as they often don’t contain all of the nine essential amino acids, although there are some exceptions to this rule.

Protein sources like Hemp, and soybean protein are packed full of all the amino acids the body needs to build muscle and remain healthy.

Unfortunately, the myth that the best protein sources are animal based still exists even today in 2020!

This is why for many years the most common question faced by people who choose a plant based diet is “Where do you get your protein from?” But did you know that calorie for calorie plant based protein sources tend to have more protein than their meat based alternatives? It’s true, you can check out the research for yourself!

Generally, it is good to include a wide variety of protein sources in combination with vegan proteins to ensure that you receive a balance of all essential amino acids. But this is often much easier than most people will expect!

Why not switch to a vegan protein source?

Vegan Proteins, better for you, and the planet!

Vegan proteins often not require artificial sweeteners and preservatives for their extraction and storage so they are free from these hazardous processing chemicals.

Vegan proteins can be obtained from the plants organically and naturally, for example, hemp seeds and chia seeds are collected and then can be used as a protein source.

Contrary to cleaner vegan proteins, animal-based proteins like whey proteins require extensive chemicals for their extraction and further storage.

In Conclusion, Dairy might not be as healthy as you think

Based on the above discussion, it can be concluded that though dairy is a rich source of protein and it also contains other important nutrients.

But it is more hazardous to human health than beneficial because of its obvious health downsides like it negatively impacts heart and skin health and elevates risks of certain cancers in addition to the prevalent milk allergies and lactose intolerance in a sizeable human population.

Therefore opting for dairy alternatives is a better option and consuming a plant-based diet is the best one. Here is a list of healthy dairy alternative foods that will also increase your immunity naturally besides nourishing you.

Plant based alternatives for Cows Milk;

  • Soy-milk,
  • Almond-milk,
  • Rice-milk,
  • Coconut-milk,
  • Hemp milk,
  • Flaxseed milk,
  • Cashew milk,
  • and Oat milk.

Plant based alternatives for Yogurt:

  • Peach soy yogurt,
  • Mango soy yogurt,
  • Coconut milk yogurt,
  • Soy milk yogurt,
  • Hemp yogurt,
  • and almond milk yogurt.

Plant Based alternatives to Butter:

  • Cultured vegan butter,
  • Nut butter,
  • Vegetable oil blends,
  • and coconut butter.
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