Is Dairy Making You Sick?
I recently spent time with a family where everyone was suffering from an upper respiratory infection after having mild colds. The condition is very familiar to me because I suffer from it almost every time I get sick. Before the age of 5, I was hospitalized several times for severe anaphylactic laryngitis (my throat would close up and I couldn't breathe or speak). It would begin with a mild cold and, as a "home remedy," my parents would give me a glass of warm milk with melted butter to drink. Then shortly after, my throat would begin to tighten and I would be rushed to the hospital. Much later in life, I would have the same issue without even drinking milk.
What I know about this family is that dairy is the main staple of their diet. Milk, yogurt or cheese are served at most meals. Many others foods they eat are processed and contain dairy. They are a typical American family that tries to eat healthy. They buy low-fat yogurt and string cheese for snacks and low-fat lattes and thin bagels with cream cheese for breakfast.
I recently discovered that much of my joint pain was related to my consumption of dairy. While I had given up cow dairy for the past 8 years, I had been eating large amounts of goat and sheep dairy for the last three years. When I completely gave it all up, severe pain I was feeling in my hip joints basically disappeared. Only to return again when I began drinking whey based protein shakes as part of my cleanse. Once I realized the correlation, I stopped drinking the shakes and again, within three days, the pain improved by 75%. After 8 days, I was almost completely pain free. I was amazed by this connection.
Realizing how dairy, even goat and sheep, which are easier for humans to digest, were affecting my health, I decided that they simply aren't worth it. And so empowered with my discovery, I suggested that this family, struggling with asthma and bronchitis, try giving up dairy for three weeks.
According to both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine, dairy consumption forms phlegm and mucus in the body. Usually when we are sick, the phlegm is in our sinuses and can travel down to our lungs. Even Western doctors often suggest not drinking milk during colds because it makes the already existing mucus thicker and harder to expel. Over time, because our bodies lack enzymes to properly digest dairy (prehistoric humans did not usually drink/eat other mammals' milk), the phlegm and mucus accumulate in our intestines and even our joints. This increased accumulation can lead to digestive issues and arthritis.
"But what about calcium? Isn't dairy a necessary part of our diet?" they asked.
What many people don't realize is that milk doesn't even contain much calcium, especially in comparison to other foods. Yogurt has 252mcg of calcium per serving, where sesame seeds have three times more in the same 100g serving size. Likewise, collard greens and kale have almost an equal amount per 100g serving size. And while many of my Eastern European ancestors consumed dairy, it was fermented, raw and full-fat. What most of us consume today is over-processed, over-medicated, and lacking true nutritional content.
So finally, the father had asked me: "Can I just switch to goat's milk?" I smiled. I was happy to hear that he was even considering it. And I told him: "Do it for 3 weeks, try the goat and see how it makes you feel" Our bodies are brilliant machines and, if we just listen to them more, they can easily tell us what makes us feel our best.
For my next post, I'll share some tips about going dairy free for three weeks, including recipes for dairy-breakfasts and snacks.
Have you tried being dairy-free? How did it make you feel? Considering it? What's holding you back? I'd love to hear all about it! Please comment below.