Posted: March 12, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Dairy seems to always be a food group that is constantly coming up in debate. Should we eat dairy or should we leave it out of our diets? To answer this question we need to look at the risks and the rewards.

Dairy is typically fortified with high amounts of calcium and vitamin d. Calcium is important for bone health and vitamin d is important for the transport of calcium and also for its antioxidant effects in our bodies. Dairy has high amounts of inulin-like growth factor (IGF) which is great for building new muscle. However IGF also makes every other cell in our body grow and this includes cancer cells. One study showed a link between increased IGF in the diet and prevelance of cancer (http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v88/n11/abs/6600946a.html). IGF is an insulin derivative and as we all know when insulin is present we cannot burn body fat. The proteins in milk; casein and whey, also promote an insulin response.

Dairy products have also been assocaiated with skin conditions. Here is one study that links teenage acne to milk and skim milk consumption (http://www.eblue.org/article/S0190-9622(04)02158-9/abstract).

Grass-fed raw milk and the pasteurized milk we typically find at grocery stores do vary in nutrient composition. The grass-fed dairy has higher omega 3 fats and the pasteurized milk tends to have much higher amounts of omega 6 fats, hormones, and antibiotics.

So what is the cost versus the reward? Dairy is high in calcium and vitamin d, but may lead to cancer, skin conditions, and weight gain. The positives of dairy can be derived from other factors without the negative side effects. Our best source of vitamin d is the sun and the best way to build strong bones is to take part in an exercise program that focuses on complex lifts such as squats. Going hiking outside can kill two birds with one stone!

For an athlete looking to put on muscle mass some grass-fed dairy may be appropriate. A glass of milk after his workout may lead to increased muscle mass and performance. Fermented dairy products can also be a great source of probiotics.

My recommendation is to remove dairy from the diet for a month and take some measurements. See how you look, fee, and perform. If afterwards you would like to add in some dairy, reinstitute some grass-fed dairy and take the same measurements a month later. If you feel fine then go with it. I would still heir on the side of caution because of the IGF present in the dairy. If there is a family history of cancer it may be best avoided. I will indulge in some fermented yogurt maybe 3 times a week, but the buck stops there. I actually get nasal drip immediately when I eat any other type of dairy other then the fermented yogurt. To me the risks of dairy far outweigh the pros and in my opinion it is best avoided.

  1. Megan says:

    Very informative! This is a never-ending battle I have with friends, family, and clients!

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