The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends daily consumption of 2 to 3 cups of dairy products, which can include milk, yogurt and cheese, as part of a balanced diet. Regularly eating dairy, however, isn't necessarily right for everyone -- and you might benefit from a nondairy diet.
If you suffer from bloating, diarrhea or gas after eating or drinking dairy products, you might be lactose-intolerant. Those with this condition -- who are more likely to be African-American, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian-Americans, says the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse -- are unable to properly digest lactose, the primary sugar in dairy products. Although you can take a lactase enzyme supplement prior to eating dairy to manage your painful symptoms, you can also benefit from a nondairy diet to reduce painful gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Dairy intake boosts estrogen consumption, nutritionist Joseph Keon told the "Chicago Tribune," because cows may be milked when hormone levels are highest. In turn, this can increase painful menstrual symptoms such as cramping. He explains that estrogen builds up the lining of the uterus, which releases prostaglandins when it sheds during your period. Those chemicals are responsible for painful menstrual cramps. If your period symptoms make you dread your time of the month, you might benefit from cutting out dairy.
Dairy could aggravate skin conditions such as acne, so you might benefit from clearer skin by cutting it out of your diet. A study published in 2005 in the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology" determined there is a link between milk consumption -- skim or otherwise -- and acne. Researchers hypothesized this is due to the hormones and bioactive molecules in milk. Additionally, a review of studies published in 2010 in "Skin Therapy Letter" looked at 21 studies and six clinical trials, concluding that there is a positive association between cow's milk and acne.
Sources of Nutrients
Dairy products are a rich source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium, so if you cut them out of your diet, you need to obtain those nutrients elsewhere. Vitamin D is found naturally in salmon and other fatty fish and through fortification of breakfast cereals. Get plenty of potassium by eating bananas, avocados, potatoes, tomatoes and mangoes, as well as calcium through dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, beans and canned salmon.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: Dairy Health Benefits and Nutrients
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Much Food from the Dairy Group Is Needed Daily?
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Lactose Intolerance
- Chicago Tribune: Ditching Dairy
- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: High School Dietary Dairy Intake and Teenage Acne
- Skin Therapy Letter: Does Diet Really Affect Acne?