What is a Dairy-Free Diet?
A dairy-free diet is one in which you don’t consume any products that are derived from dairy cows. Dairy products are ubiquitous in many cultural foods, so this can be a difficult diet to follow, but some people need to follow this diet. For example, people with lactose intolerance or a milk allergy are required to follow some semblance of a dairy-free diet. Some other people choose to follow a dairy-free diet because they are vegan, and don’t want to consume any animal-derived products.
The most common dairy products that you will want to eliminate on this diet include:
- Cheese spreads
- Ice cream
- Malted milk
- Sour cream
- Cottage cheese
- Hot chocolate mixes
- Evaporated or powdered milk
Benefits of a Dairy-Free Diet
The primary benefits of a dairy-free diet include reducing bloating and oxidative stress, improving skin health, promoting respiratory health, and improving digestion, among others.
If you are sensitive to dairy products or are struggling to digest your dairy foods properly, you will likely see an increase in gas, due to the incomplete metabolism of proteins. Gas leads to bloating, but eliminating dairy can clear this up.
Drinking an excess of milk leads to more mucus production, which can increase your risk of respiratory infections and struggles with clear breathing.
Milk is the source of a compound that can drive oxidative stress in the body, so eliminating it from the diet can reduce oxidative stress and your risk of cancer.
If you have a milk allergy, as opposed to basic lactose intolerance, eliminating all source of milk and dairy will clear up many of those uncomfortable symptoms.
Studies have directly linked the consumption of milk with a higher risk of acne flare-ups and improve overall skin appearance.
Many people have some level of sensitivity to lactose, as humans were not designed to digest this compound. By eliminating dairy entirely, you will improve digestion in many general ways.
Alternatives to Dairy
- Coconut Milk: This alternative has fewer calories, as well as lower levels of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, but there isn’t any lactose!
- Almond Milk: Boasting the same amount of carbs as whole milk, but only 40% of the calories, this is a great alternative to milk products.
- Kefir: As a fermented substance, this has the consistency of milk and yogurt but can deliver many key nutrients.
- Amasai: Instead of using yogurt, amasai is a nutrient-dense replacement that is also quite delicious and versatile in cooking.
- Goat Milk: Goat milk is notably lower in lactose than cow’s milk, so those with mild lactose intolerance may want to try this milk instead!
Lactose Intolerance vs. Milk Allergy
- Lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of key enzyme lactase that is required to digest lactose.
- A milk allergy is like any other food allergy, in which the body is allergic to a particular protein found in milk.