I’m always on the lookout to improve my diet. I eat pretty healthy but there are definitely days where I only consume carbs. (I <3 you bread!) I’m in the later half of my 20’s now and I am noticing that my body is going through some changes., the biggest of which by far has been how my body deals with dairy.
I’ve never had a problem with dairy before. Growing up I guzzled milk and ate cheese, ice cream and all other sorts of delicious dairy treats with abandon. Now that I’m all grown up and my body is aging a bit it’s a different story. I get sharp stomach pains when I eat too much dairy and often get very bloated. Most of the adults on both sides of my family are lactose intolerant and I’m pretty sure I’m following in their footsteps.
While there are pills I can take to digest dairy I’ve decided to use this as an opportunity to educate myself about dairy consumption and if it’s actually good for you to eat. Dairy is in a lot of food in a lot of different forms. Whey, cheese powder, and milk proteins are really common in packaged foods and restaurants love to smother things in cheese. It’s everywhere! And is it really the best way to get calcium and build bone strength?
Turns out, no, dairy is not the best way of getting calcium into your system or to protect bones. Dairy products contain a lot of fat and cholesterol and a few unnecessary chemicals, all of which you don’t need to be consuming.
So what are those chemicals I just mentioned? We know our modern day food is more processed and treated with more chemicals than previously in history. Dairy is no exception. It can contain steroids, fertilizers, hormones and other chemicals. It makes sense when you get over your shock right? Animals today are treated with a lot of hormones and steroids and are eating food and grass that has also been chemically treated. Those chemicals end up in our dairy products.
It’s also estimated that 70% of the entire world is lactose intolerant! Common symptoms are bloating, gas, stomach pains, rashes or problems breathing. If you feel these after eating dairy or find that they are a constant part of your daily life you should look into eliminating dairy.
Going dairy free or even just easing up on the cheese train is pretty easy to do. I switched out my cow milk for soy or almond milk a few years ago. I know some people swear by coconut, hemp and rice milk as well! There are also dairy free cheese available at most major grocery stores today and vegan products are also widely available. Since a vegan consumes no animal or animal product you can be assured that anything labeled vegan will be dairy free.
But wait Kara! What about my bones? I don’t want osteoporosis when I’m older. I need that dairy calcium! Maybe you don’t actually. Calcium is found naturally in vegetables like kale and broccoli, avocado, brussels sprouts, almonds, and whole grains. Lots of companies also now fortify their products with calcium so you can find it all over the place! A quick search on Google will show you a million other sources of calcium besides dairy.
Another important way to build bone strength is to exercise. Bone strength and density is built when you put stress on your bones. They build resistance to the stress and thus strength! So mix in some weight lifting, jogging and interval training to help your bones get and stay strong.