I had come across a news article discussing how one Midwest dietitian disagrees with how Khloé Kardashian and other celebrities keep a dairy free diet in order to maintain their figures. The post entitled, “Dietitian Does Not Recommend Khloé Kardashian’s Dairy-Free Diet” inspired me to write this post. I wanted to share my thoughts on dairy and if this is a good strategy for weight loss.
As a nutrition student I was taught that low-fat dairy is integral as part of our diet to maintain good health by providing calcium, protein, riboflavin, vitamins A and D, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. Removing food groups is frowned upon in the dietetic community and was something we were told not to do.
However, when you really think about it, humans consuming dairy products is a strange concept. Especially when no other adult mammal drinks milk after infancy. These animals are able to get their needed nutrients from other sources. So why can’t people too?
Infants are supposed to drink breast milk or formula for the first 12 months of life to ensure they get the adequate nutrition they need to grow and thrive. After the first year, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends whole milk be given to children as a way to obtain essential fatty acids that help in brain and nervous system development.
Another argument for the intake of dairy is that calcium builds strong bones and prevents osteoporosis. Research by the Dairy Council supports dairy intake for good health and disease prevention.
Alternate research conducted on dairy illustrates the negative affects of this food group. It shows cheese to be physically addicting, while other studies on dairy consumption show an increase in inflammation and an osteoporosis. It has also been linked to acne, ear infections, and skin rashes. These symptoms are indicative of deficiencies of vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids.
So if dairy is so plentiful in these nutrients why are people who consume these products still deficient in these vitamins?
Could it be the quality of the milk?
Some think mass produced conventional milk could be the cause. Low-fat versions of dairy are also overly processed and may not contain the same amount of nutrients as full fat items.
Depending on the type of feed and environment it was raised can affect the nutrient profile of the diary product. Grass fed, pasture raised cows have been shown to produce milk products with a better nutrient profile and higher levels of vitamins and anti-inflammatory omega fatty acids.
Are people suffering from a mineral imbalance?
Calcium is not the only nutrient we need to prevent osteoporosis. There is a delicate mineral balance that must be maintained by the body in order to retain strong bones. This includes an adequate amount of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, along with vitamin D and K2. Depending on the rest of a person’s diet, an individual may be lacking the needed nutrients for bone health. The standard American diet is full of processed, convenience foods especially sugary drinks that contain high levels of phosphorus. The over abundance of this mineral could throw off the balance pulling calcium out of the bones thus weakening them. Vitamin K2 is another nutrient that is lacking in the American diet. This vitamin helps to Much has been learned about vitamin K2 and its role in osteoporosis, vascular calcification, osteoarthritis, cancer, and cognition over the past few years. The most commonly known vitamin This fat-soluble vitamin is found in animal products and also synethesized in the gut. However
So what is the answer?
Research suggests that vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be related to weight gain. So the entire diet should be taken into account when evaluating dairy in the diet. It is important to know if someone is eating too much of one type of food. This may cause a nutrient deficiency.
To maintain health you need to have an adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals. Eating a well balanced diet of whole foods will provide an abundance of vitamins and omega three fatty acids. This includes vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, and some lean meat based proteins that are organic, grass fed, and pasture raised.
However, if you are suffering from skin rashes and acne, or get cramps, feel full and bloated after eating milk and its by products, an elimination diet may help rule out dairy as the cause.
In addition, exercise is just as important as eating healthy. Weight bearing exercises such as walking and running are good for the bones. Muscle protects bone and increases metabolism. So the more muscle mass you have, the stronger your bones and the better your metabolism. If you are new to exercise you may want to consult your physician to gauge your level of fitness before starting an exercise regimen.
So what can you eat to get the same nutrients?
Milk alternatives can contain a lot of sugar if they are not unsweetened. They are also often heavily processed with chemical preservatives.
Other studies say a problem with these drinks is they contain vitamin D2. This vitamin cannot be utilized in the body and may not be readily converted to the active form D3. So ultimately there could be little benefit from drinking them.
A good rule of thumb is to look for an unsweetened brand that contains no Carragean, or other preservatives.
Goat’s milk is another alternative to cow’s milk that would have a similar nutrient profile. This is also made into yogurt and kefir.
Bone broth, nuts, chia seeds, and dark leafy greens are foods you can eat to replace the nutrients from dairy products.
Bone broth can be made at home or bought in the food store. You want to look for a brand that is organic, grass fed (it it is beef) with no added sugar or salt, vegetables and no preservative.