Some couples are so adorable, it's sickening -- they're like cookies and milk or bread and butter when they're together. But what if you and your soul mate were more like peas and carrots due to a crippling lactose intolerance?
For some people, these quaint pairings are a recipe for pain. Avoiding dairy for personal reasons, whether it's due to an allergy or a concern about ethical farming, can seem initially difficult. Fortunately, many dairy products are easily replaced with delicious dairy-free alternatives, making a no dairy diet a cinch.
Avoid Digestive Discomfort
For the 30 million people with lactose intolerance, even a small serving of dairy is a catalyst for misery. Lactose intolerance develops when the small intestines can't make enough lactase, the enzyme required to digest the sugars in milk. The tolerable upper limit of dairy products for those with lactose intolerance is typically around 2-4 ounces of milk. Symptoms can occur as quickly as a half hour -- but may be delayed up to two hours -- and include gas, bloating, cramps, and hasty retreats to the bathroom. Treatment for lactose intolerance is straightforward: just avoid it, and your symptoms should go into remission.
Many people with celiac disease, a disorder that causes an autoimmune response when gluten-containing foods are eaten, may also respond adversely to a protein in milk. This protein, known as casein, has been shown to cross-react similarly to gluten in those with gluten intolerance. Avoiding dairy altogether is especially important for those who are trying to avoid unwanted inflammation from gluten.
Clear Your Skin
Here's another compelling reason to avoid dairy: research indicates that milk products are very likely to cause acne.
Dairy contains something called "insulin-like growth factor-1" (IGF-1). IGF-1 serves an important role in the body, aiding growth of your bones and muscles during your childhood to help you grow big and strong. It makes sense that it would be found in a food that is typically produced to be food for baby cows.
IGF-1, however, is also known to encourage the growth of your keratinocytes and sebocytes. Keratinocytes are the cells that make up the outer layer of your epidermis, and your sebocytes produce sebum, which is skin oil. In the presence of IGF-1, your keratinocytes become sticky and clump together with the sebum, clogging your pores and triggering an outbreak.
Find Other Sources for Your Nutrients
Dairy is high in Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, calcium, riboflavin, and phosphorous. Cutting it out completely can put you at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, but it's fairly simple to find dairy-free replacements.
- An adult needs 700mg of phosphorous daily. It can be found in turkey breast (188mg per 3-ounce portion), pumpkin seeds (350mg per ounce), and oats (209mg per 1/2 cup).
- To hit your calcium needs, aim for 1,000mg-1,200mg of this mineral daily. Non-dairy sources of it include bone-in sardines (108mg per ounce), fortified orange juice (1500mg per cup), and tofu (575mg per 3-ounce serving).
- You should try to consume 600IU of Vitamin D every day. Get it from sockeye salmon (570IU per 3-ounce portion), fortified soy milk (119IU per cup), supplements, and sunshine (10,000IU can be made from 10 minutes of bright, midday sun).
- An adult needs between 1.1mg-1.3mg of riboflavin per day, and you can find it in almonds (0.34mg per ounce), dry roasted edamame (0.21mg per ounce), and steak (0.37mg per 3-ounce ribeye).
- A 2.4mcg serving of Vitamin B-12 is the daily recommended amount. It's plentiful in eggs (0.50mcg each), chicken (0.29mcg per breast), and oysters (8mcg each).
If you've given up milk, don't despair. There are several alternatives out there that can make transitioning to a no dairy diet a breeze. Top your bagel with vegan cream cheese, or add a splash of soy creamer to your coffee to help you wake up in the morning. Today's dairy free foods mimic the originals so closely that you'll find that you won't even notice that you're not eating the real-deal stuff.
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Example Dairy-Free Meal Plan
Adhering to a no dairy diet doesn't have to be boring or bland. Swap your favorite dairy-filled foods with tasty non-dairy alternatives and you'll soon discover that you don't even miss milk or cheese anymore.
Breakfast: Oats prepared with Soy Milk, Raisins, and Sliced Almonds; Glass of Orange Juice
Lunch: Salad with Chopped Romaine, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Boiled Eggs, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Dinner: Broiled Ribeye Steak with Steamed Asparagus and Olive-Oil Roasted Herbed Potatoes
Dessert: Fresh Blueberry-Lemon Granita
Making the choice to eat a no dairy diet can lead to several health benefits, including less inflammation, happier bowels, and clearer skin. Choose a diet rich in fresh, whole foods and you'll soon find yourself on a path of improved health and happiness.
Whether you've mastered your own dairy-free diet or you're still struggling to commit, these articles may be of interest to you!
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