Dairy products are one of the most controversial food items in the health space & knowing whether you should be consuming them can get confusing.
Some of the benefits of eating cow dairy products include it being a great source of calcium, Vitamin D & fat. It can make a dish taste great and pairs well with fruit, crackers, eggs... it can be melted, diced, and spread.
The negatives? Many people have become lactose intolerant as the gut bacteria have shifted in negative ways to not allow the breakdown of lactose contained in the dairy product and another large portion of the population is sensitive to the protein structures found in cow dairy causing inflammatory reactions.
Cow dairy is also a major source of estrogens in the Western diet & contains something called histamine... histamines cause a rise in estrogen, and a rise in estrogen can cause excess histamines. It's a viscous cycle.
How do you know if cutting cow dairy out of your diet is going to be beneficial or a waste of time and a cause of unnecessary sadness?
First, do you have any hormonal imbalances, joint pain, acne, digestive reactions that you would considered unfavorable or an autoimmune condition? If you said yes to any of these, avoiding cow dairy will most likely be of benefit to you at least in the short term.
Even if you answered no, I would recommend cutting it out of your diet for the short term and then assessing how you feel.
No matter whether you answered yes or no to the previous symptoms I would recommend cutting cow dairy from your diet for at least 21 days & then reintroducing it. The break from the dairy will allow your body to recover and reset, so that when you consume it again you will have a pretty clear answer on if you have a reaction or not. Oftentimes we are consuming dairy so regularly that the negative reactions become dulled. This does not mean your body enjoys the dairy consumption, just that your immune reaction is not strong enough to mount a full response that you are aware of.
When reintroducing cow dairy back into your diet opt for full-fat quality sources and raw if you can find it. Many of those who have a sensitivity or intolerance to cow dairy find that they can enjoy raw dairy just fine! Avoid the ultra-processed versions as they have had their natural enzymes removed, which is why some find dairy so hard to digest.
Should you find that cow dairy is not agreeing with you and your body very well, give goat or sheep milk, yogurt & cheese a try as they tend to be well tolerated even when cow dairy is not. If you are worried about missing out on the nutrients in cow dairy you can include foods high in calcium, vitamin D & fat such as salmon, sardines, dark leafy greens, avocado oil, coconut cream, beef tallow + getting out into the sun for 15-20 minutes every morning without sunscreen.
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Cow dairy can be a wonderful source of nutrients, but for those who experience an inflammatory reaction to it ... is it worth it?