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Dairy... All bad??
Seems like anywhere you look today online there fashionable Pseudo “health experts” slamming the consumption of dairy. Claims that it “raises inflammation” and promotes growth pathways like IGF 1 leading to certain cancers are two of the most common things you may read.
Firstly I want to give a little clarification on both of these statements. Firstly, the term inflammation is thrown around so much in nutrition these days. How do we actually make sense of that claim and relate to real life? Well, Systemtic inflammation in the body is a multi factorial problem, its not driven by one thingy out are doing or one thing you are ingesting. E.g. someone who eats a poor diet consisting of predominantly processed foods, drinks or smokes excessively, and is chronically stressed will more than likely present with elevated inflammatory markers.
IGF 1 has been implicated in the formation of certain cancers, but we also need some IGF 1 to build and maintain lean mass which is incredibly protective to the body and essential to sports performance. This growth pathway is fuelled by both glucose intake as well as amino acids. Last time I checked we need amino acids and glucose to stay alive whether you are vegan or not... Problem here is that people generally take in excessive amounts of both of these fuel sources so the body will use it for something. And again, we are talking multi factorial here.
Not all dairy is created equal. Pasteurised dairy products provide sources of protein, some fats, and calcium. However its benefits pretty much end there. Personally I like to stick to fermented dairy for myself and my clients that can tolerate it. This comes form things like live unflavoured yoghurt, kefir, un pasteurised cheese, live quark or cottage cheese. The reason for this is its effects on the gut bacteria as well as the benefits listed above. Basically more bang for you buck.
Those that are genuinely lactose intolerant should definitely avoid dairy as they are unable to produce lactase enzymes to break down the sugars in dairy products and continued consumption could potentially lead to damage of the gut lining and auto immune conditions. Its becoming clearer that lactose intolerances is a genetic issue, and that people with small variants on certain genes in the body may lose the ability after weaning to produce lactase enzymes. This seems to be more prevalent in people from certain ethnic backgrounds.
If you are somebody that seems to have a sensitivity to dairy, by all means avoid it as its certainly not an essential part of an optimal diet. However its worth getting to the bottom of WHY you cant tolerate it as there could be underlying digestive or gut issues that you will want to correct before they lead to more serious conditions.
Trying to keep it simple. enjoy!