By Dr. Krista Braun, ND
What’s wrong with dairy?
What was your favorite food as a kid? Chocolate milk or grilled cheese sandwiches come to mind? We all have grown up with diary, and rightfully so! Our parents were serving our “Mac’n Cheese” under the assumption that diary was good for our growing bodies. Dairy was all over the media, teaching us that dairy is the golden source of calcium. Yogurt cups and cheese sticks were healthy snacks that tasted great. So what has changed? Why is dairy losing its nutritious and healthy label?
Over the last few decades, the consumption of diary has become the target of blame for many health complaints such as heart disease, obesity, cancer, asthma, nephritis, liver disease, and increased susceptibility to colds, flus, bronchitis, and pneumonia. It is becoming more and more understood that cow’s milk was never intended for our species. Calves have enzymes to digest their milk which do not exist in the human stomach. These enzymes disappear at weaning time.
The human baby’s stomach has rennin in abundance for the purpose of digesting milk but it too disappears at the age of two when the child normally weans. In milk we find the pituitary hormone, which is known as the growth hormone to enable the calf that weighed 100 lbs at birth to weight 1000 lbs at the end of the weaning period. This hormone is what disturbs and upsets the entire endocrine system of our body when ingested after weaning time. It causes people to gain weight and quite possibly is responsible for stimulating the growth of abnormal cells which lead to tumors.
Where do I get my calcium from?
For years we have eaten under the false belief that we need dairy to get our calcium. This is not the case. Cow’s milk is alkaline where human milk is acid. Calcium must be in an acidic medium in order to be assimilated through the intestinal wall. How can you get calcium out of milk which is alkaline? An inorganic substance like calcium, which is in the soil, must pass through the metabolic process of plants (vegetables) before it is available to use in the body. Where do we think cows get their calcium from! Do farmers feed them a daily intake of milk and cheese too? No, they get their calcium from grass and other plant sources. Vegetables are our finest sources of calcium. Vegetables and plant materials are high in magnesium which assists calcium absorption where dairy is quite low in magnesium.
Avoiding Dairy Foods is tricky… Dairy is in lots of staple foods!
Common dairy foods include: milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, sour cream, buttermilk, cottage cheese, whipping cream and powdered milk products (e.g. Coffee-mate).
Dairy can also be found in: margarine, bologna, butter sauces, chocolate, baking powder biscuits, cocoa, chowders, creamed foods and sauces, curds and custards, most baked goods (bread, cakes, cookies, pastries, pie crusts and muffins), some processed foods (e.g. potato chip flavoring), scrambled eggs, souffles, escalloped dishes, au gratin foods, foods fried in butter, baking mixes, pancake mixes, waffles.
What can I eat instead of dairy?
There are an increasing number of dairy free products available. These products can be found in both health food stores and grocery stores.
- Milk replacement: Fortified rice milk, oat milk, nut milk (almond, hazelnut), and coconut. Unsweetened is best.
- Yogurt: Several companies make soy yogurts.
- Butter replacement: Good Earth margarine, Earth Balance Organic Buttery Spread
- Frozen desserts: Tofulati, Soy Delicious, Rice Dream
- Chocolate: choose a dark chocolate
- Cheese flavor: nutritional yeast sprinkled on food.
Dairy Free Snack ideas
- Vegetables and bean dip
- Veggie pate
- Smoked salmon
- Granola with soy or rice milk
- Trail mix with dried fruit
- Rice cakes with nut butter
- Hummus or salsa with rice crackers
A few meal Ideas to get started
- Use oil to cook and bake with rather than butter or margarine
- Use coconut milk to replace cream in sauces
- Stir fry with vegetables, tofu and chicken
- Vegetable kabobs with chicken or tofu and peanut sauce
- Grilled fish with sweet potato wedges and steamed vegetables
- Corn chips with salsa and guacamole
- Asian food (e.g. Thai, Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese) meals tend to be dairy free
Dairy Free Recipe Resources
Books: Recipes for Dairy Free Living by Denise Jardine and The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten– book stores are full of many different dairy free cook books.