By Tina Paymaster, PHASE IV Functional Nutrition & Health Specialist
Going dairy free isn’t a must to be healthy, however, many people can benefit from reducing or eliminating it from their diet.
Why? Cows here in the United States are often pumped full of hormones and antibiotics to produce more milk. The dairy products we then consume cause inflammation in the gut because it’s full of toxic substances, sugars and proteins that our bodies are not designed to digest. In fact studies show that up to 75% of people in the world are unable to properly digest dairy.
Think you need milk for healthy bones? Think again. There are no conclusive studies that show dairy consumption protects against bone fractures or osteoporosis. In fact, some studies show that it can actually cause bone fractures!
Additional studies have shown that dairy consumption can increase the risk of prostate cancer in men by 30-50%.
There are studies that show some benefits to including certain types of dairy in the diet such as yogurt, kefir and buttermilk. The fermentation process of these foods renders out most of the lactose, making it easier to digest and providing beneficial bacteria for the gut.
If you aren’t ready to give up your cheese platters just yet, make sure you choose organic, non-GMO varieties and support farms that treat their animals well.
If you are willing to step into non-dairy territory, there are tons of amazing alternatives you can use for all of your favorite foods that won’t leave you feeling deprived – but may just leave you feeling lighter and leaner.
1. Instead of milk or cream in your coffee….
Try unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk. Coconut milk tends to froth better if you like your morning lattes. For a protein boost, try Unsweetened Ripple Milk. It’s made from peas and has a whopping 8g of protein per serving – the same as dairy milk.
2. Instead of ricotta cheese in your lasagna…
Try this delicious cashew ricotta recipe. You won’t even be able to tell it’s not ricotta cheese and your guests won’t either!
3. Instead of cheese in your mac’n’cheese…
Try using nutritional yeast, which is a plant-based food additive that is high in B-vitamins and protein, really great for anyone reducing or eliminating animal proteins. Here is one of our favorite vegan mac’n’cheese recipes. Nutritional yeast is also delicious sprinkled on top of salads or stirred into soups.
4. Instead of yogurt…
Try almond or cashew yogurt. Many brands now make Greek versions which have as much as 12g of protein per serving!
5. Instead of buttermilk in baking…
Use the ratio of 1 cup non-dairy milk with 1 tsp lemon juice.
6. Instead of butter…
Try coconut oil or coconut butter. Coconut oil can easily be swapped for butter in baking and sautéing. Be careful of vegan butters as many of them use oils and ingredients that are questionable and potentially toxic for the body.