Ditch The Dairy: Why Dairy is Bad for You
There are many campaigns urging consumers, in light of a growing concern for environmental sustainability and human health, to consciously and responsibly reduce consumption of dairy, taking into account the significant ecological footprint associated with its production and the health risks associated with it.
We know it’s difficult to reduce dairy as dairy foods can be very addictive, especially cheeses. It is hard to imagine favourites like pizzas and pastas without cheeses in them.
Perhaps we can make a better decision to ditch the dairy if we are armed with knowledge pertaining to dairy in terms of its impact on our health.
Impact of Dairy on Health
Dairy affects digestion
Removing or reducing dairy from your diet can help digestion. An estimated 68% of the world’s population may have some degree of lactose intolerance which is commonly dismissed as regular diarrhoea from consumption of the 'wrong foods' or 'unclean foods'. And that number is significantly higher in Asia. Have you realise you are no longer able to enjoy dairy without having symptoms? Many people begin to develop lactose malabsorption as they grow older and this leads to lactose intolerance. Lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose, commonly decreases as you age. Thus, resulting in undigested lactose that is eventually broken down by bacteria in your gut, very often causing diarrhoea, gas, bloating, and stomach cramps. If you suffer from bloating, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), chronic diarrhoea or constipation, eliminating dairy from your diet can help with your symptoms.
Dairy can lead to hormonal imbalance
A dairy-free diet will help with hormonal imbalance. The hormones found in dairy products can lead to inflammation in the gut which causes hormonal imbalance. Hormonal imbalance itself can trigger inflammation as the body tries to restore balance, thus creating a vicious cycle where inflammation and hormonal imbalance exacerbate each other.
Dairy increases the risk of diseases and illnesses
Eliminating dairy from your diet can also help to reduce the risk of breast cancer for women. The main source of animal-derived estrogens (60–70%) in the human diet is milk and dairy products. Estrogen plays a vital role in sexual development and reproductive health. But estrogen is also a carcinogen, which means it has the potential to cause cancer.
Dairy may also stimulate an insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). It’s beneficial for calves that need to grow rapidly but can raise insulin levels in humans. So it’s a good idea to eliminate dairy if you are suffering or are at risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
For anyone suffering from acne, oily skin, eczema or psoriasis, eliminating dairy can improve skin condition. Very often, people who cut out dairy notice that their skin clears up.
A reduction in inflammation can boost energy levels because our body do not need to waste energy to fight it. From an athletic perspective, excess mucus caused by dairy makes it harder for breathing and inflammation results in longer recovery time. Apart from the athletic perspective, inflammation can also contribute to the onset or exacerbation of many chronic diseases and digestive disorders.
Dairy contributes to weight gain
Reducing dairy can help you to lose weight. Dairy is high in saturated fats. One gram of saturated fat = nine calories (which is much more than carbohydrates and protein at four calories per gram) By following a dairy-free diet, you’re automatically removing calorically dense foods and that can help you to reach your fitness goals.
Impact of Dairy on the Environment
Producing dairy requires more water
Dairy production is extremely water-intensive. The water footprint of milk is 1,020L/kg. Dairy animals require substantial amounts of water for drinking and feed crops. This equates to 31 litres of water per gram of protein from milk, which is more than that of pulses with an average water footprint of 19 litres per gram of protein. Furthermore, cheeses require much more water to produce at 5,060L/kg.
Producing dairy leads to high carbon emissions
Producing 1kg of peas emits just 0.98kg of carbon dioxide equivalents compared to that of dairy milk at 3.15kg and cheese at 23.88kg carbon dioxide equivalents. Ruminant animals such as cows, sheep, goats also produce large amounts of methane during digestion which is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. In fact, plant-based foods emits much lesser greenhouse gas than animal-based foods.
Producing dairy requires more land
The feed needed to cultivate cows, sheep and goats for dairy production requires a significant amount of land. These animals require a substantial amount of feed, with cows consuming about 23kg of feed daily. Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture. More than three-quarters of this is used for livestock production, despite meat and dairy making up a much smaller share of the world’s calorie and protein supply. Meat and dairy make up only 18% of the global calorie supply and 37% of the global protein supply but they take up 77% of agriculture land. The constant demand for dairy will gradually bring the detrimental effects of such agriculture land usage to the surface. As a matter of fact, we are already experiencing unprecedented effects of climate change.
Does it mean you can’t enjoy pizza with cheese, creamy pasta or cheesy toastie?
Of course not… Food not only nourishes our body, but also plays a part in our social and family life. Cheese-lovers can still explore a dairy-free diet with the array of dairy substitutes available and we have got your back!
HerbY-Cheese is Singapore’s first plant-based, nut-free cheese range that grates and melts like dairy cheeses and has a flavour profile quite close to dairy cheeses. These palate pleasers will help kickstart your journey on a sustainably nutritious vegan diet. They can be used to prepare vegan lasagne, pasta, risotto, pizza, tart, casserole and many more… just like how you use a regular dairy cheese.
Don’t just take our word for it, experience it yourself starting off by halving your dairy intake and gradually eliminating it! You’ll get what we are talking about - the remarkable changes in your digestion, complexion, energy levels, and overall well-being!