Ditch dairy. Your gut will thank you.

Eating dairy after infancy is actually not natural. Our bodies weren’t made to digest milk products after breastfeeding. But we still do it, cause yeah, it tastes amazing… but then we feel awful! Well, quitting dairy was the best thing I did for my gut and I promise your gut will thank you too! Here’s the evidence:

1. Lactose Intolerance: Did you know that 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy? Lactose intolerance (LI) in adults is caused by gradually decreasing activity of the LCT gene that provides instructions for making lactase, an enzyme to digest lactose which is the sugar found in milk/dairy. Less activity of the LCT gene means less lactase after infancy and less ability to digest lactose. And this occurs in most humans.  Lactase persistence is thought to be related to the domestication of dairy cattle during the last 10,000 years…which means that we have evolved genes to tolerate lactose due to advances in agriculture. But this is not naturally what your body should be doing! Your body was meant to digest breastmilk, and NO dairy afterwards! So return to your body’s natural state, and don’t force it to digest lactose. You can visit your GI and get diagnosed officially with a hydrogen breath test, or just cut out dairy and see how much better you feel!

2. Cow milk allergy: Maybe you've been suffering with stomach issues because you're allergic to cow's milk! In one meta-analysis, they found that self-reported prevalence of food allergy was up to 17% for cow’s milk. A cow milk allergy may manifest as nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, and even rashes and skin issues. You can visit your GI and have him order a lab test to confirm your diagnosis (cow's milk-specific IgE)… or you can just quit milk and heal your gut!

3.  Dairy is high in FODMAPs! FODMAPS are fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols. These short-chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed and osmotically active in the gut where they are rapidly fermented, resulting in abdominal pain and bloating. You know that feeling when you're so bloated you look pregnant and are gassy and miserable? Yup, that may be dairy's fault.

4. Acne: We’ll step away from GI for a quick second and talk about something else extremely important to our well-being, our skin. Milk may be causing you to breakout. A study of 47,355 women in the Nurses' Health Study that used retrospective data collection to determine diet found an association between acne and milk intake. Two subsequent large prospective cohort studies also reported an association of milk ingestion and acne. The reason is that the hormones and other bioactive molecules in milk can exacerbate acne. Not to mention all the antibiotics they feed the cows now may lead to antibiotic resistance and so many other personal and public health problems! And lets not forget about the inhumane way they treat cows

5.  Animal cruelty : OK, this doesn't have to do with GI either, but your conscience and moral values are pretty important. I'll leave the explanation to the most dedicated and brilliant food journalist there is who knows firsthand about the brutality of CAFO, the concentrated animal feeding operation: Michael Pollan.

So can you ditch dairy and still enjoy life? YES. Let me introduce you to some of the best dairy-substitutes out there, and these are not just “good for vegan” good, they’re good, PERIOD.

adapted from  vanleeuwenicecream.com

adapted from vanleeuwenicecream.com

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. The BEST: Vegan chocolate (but all their vegan flavors are fabulous!) Ultra rich and creamy, Van Leeuwen gets their chocolate from a small family-run French company that doesn’t use soy lecithin and grows cocoa on  biodynamic and organic plantations. Sprinkle a little sea salt on for fun. It’s a MUST HAVE.

Ingredients: coconut cream, cashews, coconut oil, cocoa butter, organic cane sugar, michel cluizel chocolate (cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, vanilla bean, ginger), michel cluizel cocoa powder, organic carob bean, salt

adapted from  eatbychloe.com

adapted from eatbychloe.com

  2. bychloe’s vegan cupcakes. Everything at bychloe’s is good but her raspberry tiramisu cupcake? Heaven. Fun fact- Chloe Coscarelli won the Food Network’s reality-competition series "Cupcake Wars", and was the first vegan chef to do so!

Her winning Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcake is a  moist vanilla cake soaked with espresso and amaretto, stuffed with a fresh raspberry filling, ground chocolate, and topped with fluffy tiramisu buttercream. “Totally vegan and totally delicious!” Try it at home!

3. CocoWhip! So delicious coconut whipped cream.

I literally eat it by the spoon-full. They actually have a 21 day dairy-free challenge you can sign up for- try it today

adapted from  sodeliciousdairyfree.com

adapted from sodeliciousdairyfree.com

adapted from  wholefoods.com

adapted from wholefoods.com

4. Organic unsweetened almond milk by 365. You’ll forget all about cow’s milk once you try this. Perfect for coffee, smoothies, cereal… you name it! Another staple to always have in the fridge.

Ingredients:  Organic almondmilk (filtered water, organic almonds), tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, xanthan gum, potassium citrate, sunflower lecithin, vitamin a palmitate, ergocalciferol (vitamin d2), dl-alpha tocopherol acetate (vitamin e).

Challenge yourself!! Check out the 21-day dairy free challenge sponsored by So Delicious-- sign up today! http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/dairyfreechallenge