These days, it’s very common to see diets that cut out entire food groups, or parts of them. Dairy-free diets are just one of many. The problem is, does cutting out dairy do any good?
Dairy includes products such as butter, cheese, yoghurt, cream and milk. It has been said that cutting out dairy can decrease bloating, reduce acne and help with weight loss. However, these claims are still conditional to a person’s overall diet, exercise routine and other health conditions.
Cutting dairy from the diet can lead to weight loss, but this is not because the dairy is ultimately the cause of weight gain. It is usually because cutting an entire food group from your diet cuts those calories from being consumed. If you are not replacing the dairy with any other foods, it is reducing your intake over the course of the day. It is also important to consider how you are eating your dairy. Greek yoghurt at breakfast, or is it creamy carbonara pasta? It might not be dairy that is the issue, but it could be the type of dairy, or other ingredients included in the meal too.
People who have lactose intolerance do have a medical reason to avoid dairy. They are unable to produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose during digestion. When lactose is not broken down, it can cause bloating, diarrhoea and other digestive issues. Dairy or lactose intolerance can be diagnosed by your doctor. However, lactase can now be found in tablet form, and lactose-free products are very easy to find on the shelves of the supermarket.
Ethical decisions to avoid food groups, such as becoming vegan, will mean eliminating dairy from the diet. Doing this will mean incorporating other important foods to increase nutrient intake, and even opting for dietary supplements to reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Dairy contains essential nutrients such as calcium and protein, and is a good source of vitamin D and B12. If these things are not replaced it can cause significant nutritional deficiencies in the body. This is why cutting out an entire food group can be dangerous, and why it is so important to speak to your doctor or dietitian. They can assist you with ideas for a healthy diet without cutting out any essential nutrients.