One of the question I have been most frequently asked is why we should avoid dairy products if we want to be fit. Here is the answer…
Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are immensely popular and have been enjoyed for many generations. They are a great source of protein and calcium and are widely available. Milk is often considered complete food and all growing mammals need it for development. However, dairy consumption is a somewhat controversial subject and some experts believe that humans are not designed to consume the milk of other animals.
Dairy Is Difficult for Many to Digest
Milk contains a sugar called lactose, which can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals resulting in cold-like symptoms, skin rashes, abdominal bloating and upset stomachs. It is estimated that as much as 65% of the adult population is lactose intolerant. This intolerance means a person has deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which leads to impaired ability to digest lactose. Some people are also sensitive to casein, a protein found in dairy. Many dairy products are also high in trans-fat, saturated fat which are high in calories and may lead to weight gain if consumed to excess.
Animal welfare can also affect the quality and healthfulness of dairy foods; milk is often tainted with hormones and antibiotics that are routinely used to maximize milk yield. In turn, we consume these potentially harmful chemicals second hand.
Dairy Is an Acid-Forming Food
All the food we eat influences our body’s pH level. Some foods have an alkalizing effect and others are acid forming. Our blood likes to sit at a pH of about 7.4, which is slightly alkaline, and it works very hard to maintain to that level. Unfortunately, the modern diet includes staple foods that are highly acid forming. Dairy is one of them.
When we consume milk, our body’s response to the increased acid load involves releasing minerals – such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are all necessary for strong bones – into our circulation to bring us back to a pH homeostasis. Those minerals can then be lost, flushed out of our system as waste. For those who live on a modern diet, it has been estimated that the quantity of calcium lost through the urine over time could be as high as almost 480 gm over twenty years – this amounts to almost half the skeletal mass of calcium.
Drinking loads of milk, even though it does contain calcium, may not be so great on our bones after all. At the very least, we should be looking to other sources to get our daily quota of calcium and not just relying on dairy. Instead, try adding more kale and fish that includes the bones, such as sardines and canned salmon.
Other Sources of Calcium and Protein
Although dairy products are a good source of protein and calcium, the abovementioned arguments make them unsuitable for sports diet. Anyway, if you love dairy products, you can opt for curds or cottage cheese. In addition to the protein and the carbs, the calcium, which they contain, is extremely important for muscle contraction. You can also use whey protein supplements which are filtered and will be easily digested by your body without the abovementioned side effects. There are several similarly nutritious dairy-free alternatives available that are ideal for pre and post-workout consumption such as soymilk, almond milk, rice milk, soya protein shakes, rice protein shakes, pea protein shakes and goat protein shakes. However, there are plenty of other foods that are good sources of protein and calcium. For protein, I recommend eggs since they contain all the fat-soluble vitamins. For calcium, opt for kale, spinach, almonds, curds and cottage cheese. As I mentioned previously, sardines and salmon are good sources of both protein and calcium.