Like with anything else, I feel like it’s important to show both sides of the story and then, after you have all the information, you get to make an informed decision. So, here is what we know about dairy:

The Bad:

  • Dairy raises blood sugar levels and can spike insulin. The combination of protein and lactose cause this spike. A spike in blood sugar and insulin can cause an increase in body fat in some cases. Skim and Low Fat varieties actually cause a much faster and greater spike.

  • Dairy can be highly processed in some cases and often it has rbgh, a hormone given to cows to help them produce more milk, faster. This, in turn, acts as a growth hormone in humans. Not good!

  • Cows are often given high levels of antibiotics to keep them from getting mastitis or any other illness. These antibiotics get passed down to us when we consume milk and cheese. The antibiotics can sometimes cause gut issues and even autoimmune issues.

  • Many people are lactose intolerant but don’t know it. Symptoms can range from vomiting and nausea to mild fatigue and runny nose.  

  • We are the only species that drinks the milk of other mammals. And we are the only mammals to drink milk after childhood. Just something to think about!

The Good:

  • Calcium...Yes, milk is a good source of calcium. Gouda is high in K12 and is cofactor in the uptake of calcium.

  • Full-fat, organic, grass-fed dairy can help with satiety and long term fullness.  

  • Kefir, cultured butter, yogurt, and fermented cheeses that are full-fat provide wonderful healthy bacteria in the form of probiotics

  • Goat milk is a good option with less lactose, more fat (good, healthy fat), and fewer digestive issues. You can find goat milk cheese, yogurt, kefir, and almost any other dairy product now.

Here is what I recommend: figure out what's best for you by making an outcome-based decision. Get rid of dairy for a couple of weeks. When you add it back in do you feel better, worse, or the same? Some people find they actually have a low-level intolerance. With this knowledge, you can decide what you want to do.

NutritionAaron Leventhal