lactose intolerance

I discovered in my early twenties that I suffer from lactose intolerance. After a childhood growing up in New Zealand, where dairy is king, I started developing terrible acne in my late teens. It wasn’t until an enlightened doctor suggested that I cut dairy from my diet that my skin cleared up. Since then I have avoided it. I run, I exercise and have never felt the lack of calcium in my diet that we are all brainwashed to believe will happen if we don’t consume dairy products.

It seems that where lactose intolerance is concerned, I am not the only one.

It is estimated that up to 75% of the world’s adult population are intolerant to lactose to some degree. It seems to be more prevalent amongst people from Africa, Asia, and South America.

Worldwide Prevalence of Lactose Intolerance
Pic courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Lactose is a milk sugar found in dairy. When we are children we develop a digestive enzyme called lactase which breaks down the lactose. However as we become adults many of us lose the ability to do so and develop allergies and intolerances.

But if you don’t suffer from lactose intolerance should you still be consuming dairy? There do seem to be a lot of arguments against its consumption.

The first that many raise is that we are the only mammal that consumes another’s milk. Most mammals produce milk to feed their young and once they reach a certain age, they don’t drink it again and their mother stops producing it. However as humans we not only drink the milk of another animal but consume it well into adulthood.

This may be enough for you to consider excluding it from your diet as an unnatural food but there are many more points to consider.

Let’s talk about calcium, probably the main reason we are told to drink milk.

Calcium is important for bone health, however studies have shown that countries with the highest consumption of dairy also have the highest rates of osteoporosis whereas countries that consume little dairy have the lowest. How can that be given all that we have been led to believe by the government add the dairy industry?

Because of the animal proteins in Dairy foods, they are acidic in nature and increase the acid state in the body. One of the best acid neutralizers in the body is calcium. Where does the body take the calcium from to neutralize the acid? From the bones. This probably explains why the countries with the highest per capita consumption of dairy are also the ones with the highest incidences of osteoporosis.

To absorb calcium the body needs other minerals and micro-nutrients. One of the main ones is magnesium. Magnesium is only found in low quantities in dairy products so the majority of the calcium in milk is not absorbed. The excess calcium is diverted to the kidneys where it becomes kidney stones.

But the list of potential problems doesn’t end here.

Dairy Products are one of the leading causes of allergies, are mucous causing and are often said to cause respiratory problems. Allergy to dairy is one of the leading causes of sinusitis

The well-known health practitioner Dr Andrew Weil, also recommends cutting out dairy to help ease sinusitis and says you will see dramatic improvements within two months.

For those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis cutting dairy from the diet is also said to give substantial relief.

Dairy products also increase the production of insulin as well as the hormone, (IGF-1). These have been implicated in increased risk of acne and also heightened risk of certain cancers.

Not to forget the antibiotics and chemicals fed to the cows to keep them healthy. These are all passed on to the person consuming the milk. Dairy cattle are often given rBGH or rBST an artificial hormone designed to increase milk production. This also is said to increase IGF-1.

So where should you get your calcium from? You could take calcium supplements but these are often made from inorganic material do not come with the needed additional micro-nutrients such as magnesium which help it to be absorbed. Much better to get your calcium from natural sources where it comes with all the bio available nutrients suitable for digestion. Great non-dairy sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, like almonds and sesame seeds. Without the animal proteins that milk contains these are therefore generally alkaline in nature.

Lactose Intolerance
Pic: Courtesy

I have found that we can cook most things without dairy, substituting oils for butter, and any number of non-dairy alternatives for milk. I will be posting more specific information about what you can use in place of dairy in your baking soon, but anyway all the recipes on this website are dairy free.

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