I Ate Dairy-Free for a Week. Here’s What Happened
The results of when a cheese and milk lover went dairy-free will astound you.
Mille F., 29-years-old, has cereal with milk at breakfast, a splash of cream with her coffee, cheese in her sandwiches at lunch, and full-fat yogurt as a snack or dessert. Butter is always non-negotiable.
“I’ll always choose cheese over anything else,” says the lactose lover. “I could never give it up.”
But she could do without the tummy troubles that come with indulging in her favorite food: Bloating. Flatulence. Congestion. Even acne.
“For each daily glass of milk you drink, your risk of death increases by 15%,” says Dr. Etti Ben-Zion, VP of Research & Development, citing a study from the BMJ. “The researchers found women who drank three or more glasses of milk per day were nearly twice as likely to die over the next two decades than those who drank less than one glass daily.”
Plus, research also shows that once you stop eating dairy, you reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
“At Dr Smood, we only provide quality food. For these reasons, we purposely decided not to offer foods with dairy, which promote digestive issues and a host of other negative symptoms. It’s not a quality food that promotes a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Etti.
Mille was concerned about not getting enough calcium if she cut out dairy. “I am super concerned about my bone health.”
This may come as a surprise, but scientific evidence shows that dairy does not support bone health. Actually, consuming dairy may actually be detrimental to bone health. Dairy can actually induce acidosis which in turn leads to the body compensating by leaching calcium from the bones to help neutralize the increased acidity. Over time, all of this can have a detrimental effect on bone health.
Dr Smood offers many plant foods rich in calcium, like green leafy vegetables found in our various juices and salads and beans and lentils in our soups.
So, we challenged Mille to go one week sans dairy, replacing her favorite dairy laden foods with healthful dairy-free options at Dr Smood to see the changes that would happen to her body (and mind). If you’re on the fence about ditching dairy, then check out Mille’s dairy-free, week-long food diary. The results will astound you.
“First day dairy-free probably ever. I wake up starving and foggy, craving a creamy breakfast. There is a Dr Smood 10-15 minutes away from my apartment. I pop in and grab a Probiotic Yogurt w/ Granola from the fridge. The ingredients seem good: coconut meat, water kefir probiotic and granola. The barista tells me to try the Iced Latte with DrS in-house cashew nut mylk. Wow! It is incredibly creamy and delicious. I can’t quite believe it’s not dairy. Maybe this whole dairy-free thing won’t be so bad after all?”
Breaking a cheese habit can be hard. For many people like Mille, it wouldn’t be too wild to call it an “addiction.”
“Dairy proteins can actually act as mild opiates. A cheese protein called casomorphins attaches to those same brain receptors as drugs like heroin. So each mouthful of cheese or dairy creates a small hit of dopamine, like an addictive drug,” says Dr. Etti.
“That is why some people feel this inexplicable “need” or “craving” for milk, cheese, or other dairy products,” she says.
“Usually, I go to bed feeling a bit bloated, and wake up puffy. Not today. My stomach is not so rumbly as it usually is and I didn’t have any of the typical flatulence I get a night. Not sure I can quite believe it, but maybe this dairy-free thing has ALREADY started working?”
Most humans are not built to tolerate dairy. While some can handle it better than others, it usually brings up a variety of digestive symptoms in most people, explains Dr. Etti.
For people who suffer from lactose (the natural sugar found in dairy) intolerance, eating dairy can lead to bloating. This means the lactose passes as undigested sugar through the large intestine, mixes with the bacteria there leading to swelling of the stomach aka bloating.
“Today’s breakfast was a DrS Hot Oatmeal. So filling and packed with superfoods. I love the lucuma and maca, which gave the oatmeal a natural, but nutrient-rich creaminess.”
“Usually, I will pile on ranch or cheese onto my salad. But the almond sesame dressing with today’s Cashew Kale Crunch was AMAZING. Not a drop of dairy.”
“It takes me quite a while to get out of bed in the morning and break through my fogginess. But today I sprang out of bed with more energy than usual (and this is BEFORE coffee), already thinking more clearly and planning out my day. I tried out the Matcha & Maca Chia Pudding today. It’s a chia seed base mixed with almond and cashew mylk.”
“The Wild Alaskan Salmon Hand Roll for lunch was like having sushi. It was wrapped in nori and filled with quinoa, wild caught Alaskan salmon, cucumber, carrot, avocado and cashew for that creaminess.”
Dairy is NOT your friend when it comes to cognition, thinking clearly, and maintaining maximum energy levels.
“Dairy can lead to fuzzy thinking,” says Dr. Etti. “Cow’s milk has folate antibodies which can disrupt receptors responsible for transporting this critical nutrient to the brain studies say.”
What’s more is that dairy has also been shown to contribute to chronic fatigue in people with dairy sensitivities. The body doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the dairy when you cut out dairy, freeing the body the body of this extra workload, ultimately resulting in more energy, explains Dr. Etti.
“This morning I woke up breathing more easily and smelling more clearly. I’ve always had this little sniff that would never go away. I figured it was just from a lingering cold. Breakfast today was Raw Oats w/ Raspberry Coulis. It was sweetened with apple, bananas, and the overnight process made it so smooth and creamy (of course dairy-free) because of how long the almond mylk soaked into the raw oats.”
But actually: “Casein can promote mucus causing congestion,” says Dr. Etti.
Research suggests that casein, a protein found in dairy, is linked to sinus pressure and mucus production. So potentially eliminating dairy from your diet can stop a runny nose and congestion, which could also heighten your sense of smell.
“I usually have a couple headaches a week, and haven’t had any so far. Could it be because I cut out dairy?”
Could be. Dairy can cause some people to suffer from food allergy-induced inflammation, which can lead to headaches. Cheese is also a source of tyramine, which can be a migraine trigger for some people.
“Been loving the endless dairy-free options here at Dr Smood. The Protein Chia w/ Blueberry Coulis & Hemp Crumble is like having blueberry pie for breakfast. The barista told me that the almond butter, hemp seeds, and tocotrienols make it super rich and creamy without all that dairy.”
“Can I just say how much nicer my skin looks today? At least once a week, I will have a bagel with cream cheese and lox. So I decided to “treat” myself to an Avocado Toast w/ Wild Caught Salmon at Dr Smood and added on the vegan cream cheese. Honestly, tastes just like the naughty version, and I know this is so much better for me.”
Mille may be onto something. Dairy may be an acne trigger. According to research from Dartmouth Medical School, milk contains testosterone-like hormones, which may stimulate oil glands in the skin and contribute to breakouts.
And some experts believe the hormones in milk products could play a role in exacerbating hormonal acne, and many people do report clearer complexions when they give up these foods. Even eczema and psoriasis sufferers have reported fewer symptoms after they cut back or completely eliminate dairy.
“Dairy is contaminated with growth hormones, antibiotics and herbicides and pesticides. Even milk products labeled “organic” or “no hormones added” usually contain high levels of these problematic hormones - like estrogen and progesterone, which are naturally produced by cows. Studies has shown that dairy consumption is one of the most concerning and consistent risk factors for hormone-dependent malignant diseases, including ovarian, uterine, breast, testicular and prostate cancers,” says Dr. Etti.
“Weight loss was not something that I was even thinking about going into this challenge, but I am so pleased to see my clothes are fitting better. Breakfast today is a Blueberry Majik Smoody, made with coconut mylk, wild blueberry, lucuma, blue majik, sprouted buckwheat and dates. With such great, delicious results nixing dairy, I think I’m going to continue this challenge - indefinitely.”
Research conducted by PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) shows that animal fats tend to slow the metabolism down, which could mean increased dairy consumption is linked to weight gain trends across the nation. So, cutting dairy out could potentially lead to a decrease in weight.