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For the love of dairy free

Updated: May 8

Or should I say a healthy gut...



Dairy degrades the integrity of our gut (think leaky gut). Dairy contains proteins that trigger the Zonulin Effect, pulling apart the tight junctions in our gut that increase the likelihood of undigested food particles, bacteria, fungi, and toxins leaching into the bloodstream creating adverse reactions body-wide. Studies have shown that gut degradation is a culprit to chronic inflammatory, autoimmune, infective, metabolic, and tumoral diseases (1). Dairy also contains harmful amino acids called BCM-7 that further contribute to inflammation. In addition, many individuals have trouble digesting lactose, the natural sugar within dairy causing symptoms of gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea just to name a few. Sensitivity to dairy could manifest in more persistent health issues like chronic stomach discomfort, fatigue, brain fog, chronic bowel disorders, inflammation, heart disease, Type II diabetes, and more. (2)


For those with sensitivities to dairy, a compromised gut, unresolved health issues, or autoimmune disease, dairy should be avoided (even products labeled lactose-free, goat, and or raw) to reduce system-wide inflammation, and uncomfortable, painful, or inconvenient symptoms. Cutting out dairy (and other food sensitivities like gluten) for 30 days – to the very last molecule – will give you a baseline and data to understand how dairy impacts your health.


But what about colostrum? 

This trend seems to be all the rage, but proceed with cautionit is still dairy after all. Colostrum is higher in protein and lower lactose. Studies have shown that it contains immune-regulating compounds and growth factors over some milks, and may be safe for some individuals to take in supplement doses. (4)


Bottom line: gut-loving and vulnerary herbs are a safer alternative to colostrum and a more affordable option for those with gastrointestinal and digestive issues.


Is ghee ok?

Ghee is clarified butter, made from milk. Unlike other dairy products, the making of ghee changes the proteins and lactose into a gut-loving and nutritive product. Containing unsaturated fatty acid, and a source of butyrate that has anti-inflammatory and pro-digestive health properties (5). Now, this is something I can get on board with.


Going Dairy Free:


The best way to avoid dairy is to cook and prepare your own foods, so you know what is in your meals. Dairy lurks in processed and prepared foods, and other items like artificial sweeteners, breath mints, whey, candy, “calcium” (listed on food labels), baked goods, chicken broth, “fat replacers,” fried foods, and even some supplements and medications. (3)


If you love dairy, you don’t have to go without it! Below are listed dairy-free swaps and products that are coconut or almond-based.




Written by Ashley Bissonnette Murphy & Mackenzie Wucik (updated May 2024)


Sources


1. Fasano, A. (2020, January 31). PubMed. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32051759/, The Leaky Gut Diet Plan: What to Eat, What to Avoid. (2023). Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leaky-gut-diet; Campbell, T. (2016, March 24). Center for Nutrition Studies. Retrieved from https://nutritionstudies.org/autoimmune-disease-genes-infection-environment-gut/


2. Floria, A. (2021, September 01). Life Healthcare. Retrieved from https://www.lifehealthcare.co.za/news-and-info-hub/latest-news/how-does-dairy-affect-gut-health/; Lactose Intolerance. (2022). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lactose-intolerance/symptoms-causes/syc-20374232# ; The importance of lactose intolerance in individuals with gastrointestinal symptoms. (2020). PubMed. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32482516/; The effects of dairy and dairy derivatives on the gut microbiota: a systematic literature review. (2020). National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7524346/


3. Fleming, A. (2006, May 16). Go Dairy Free. Retrieved from https://www.godairyfree.org/food-and-grocery/food-label-info/hidden-dairy 


4. Composition and physiological functions of the porcine colostrum. (2021). PubMed. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34409709/; Potential benefits of colostrum in gastrointestinal diseases. (2016). PubMed. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27100711/


5. Recent innovations in functionality and shelf life enhancement of ghee, clarified butter fat. (2023). PubMed. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36618046/



This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, or cure.

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