The Truth About Dairy
Dr. DiPiero shares an important perspective on The Doctor’s Farmacy podcast hosted by Dr. Mark Hyman featuring Dr. David Ludwig. Listen and watch Episode 131, Why Most Everything We Were Told About Dairy Is Wrong, here on The Journal and read Dr. D’s summary.
In this episode of the Doctor’s Farmacy, Dr. Hyman has an interesting discussion with Dr. David Ludwig, researcher and author of Always Hungry. Here the two explain much of the evidence surrounding dairy – when and why it became a staple in the American diet, the current daily recommended amounts, the economic and environmental implications of such consumption, how it is processed now versus back then and the potential link to multiple chronic problems and illnesses. It is actually a very balanced and thoughtful dialogue that I found it to be quite refreshing. If this is an area that interests you, I encourage you to spend the hour listening and taking notes.
In summary, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently recommends three servings of dairy everyday (i.e., one cup equivalent of yogurt, cheese, milk, etc.) in persons over nine years old. However, according to Ludwig, this recommendation is not based on scientific evidence. We do not actually need that much calcium to maintain healthy bones. Dairy is also not the only source of calcium and one can easily get the recommended amount from a few servings of green leafy vegetables. Ludwig actually suggests zero to two servings daily, as dairy can be a source of protein, fat and a healthier option than some other high calorie foods and beverages. Dr. Hyman jokingly states that saying a glass of milk is better than a soda is not saying much. Even still, there are areas where nutrient-dense, whole foods are more difficult to obtain and dairy can be a better alternative.
Second, if you are going to consume dairy, quality also matters. Hyman and Ludwig agree full fat milk and yogurts are superior to the fat-free, sugar-sweetened products. It is also best to avoid industrial dairy. Instead, try to purchase your milk and cheese from a local farm where you know the cows are treated well and fed a grain-free, grass diet.
Lastly, a large percentage of the American population is lactose intolerant. High dairy consumption has been linked to chronic conditions, including sinus problems, allergies, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune disorders and obesity. Apart from allergy testing, the easiest way to determine if you are intolerant to lactose is to simply remove it entirely from your diet for four to six weeks. After this time, slowly reintroduce dairy back into your diet and monitor your symptoms. During the elimination phase, take notice if you have less congestion, rashes resolve, acne improves, you experience fewer headaches, your bowels normalize, or you have less gas and bloating. If you are unable to eliminate dairy entirely, at least try avoiding cow’s milk. Sheep and goat’s milk are typically better tolerated.
I do appreciate Dr. Ludwig’s approach in that he does not try to demonize dairy. It is not all bad, nor is it all good. Continuing dairy in one’s diet or eliminating it altogether should be a collaborative decision between you and your doctor. No two people need the exact same diet or respond to a particular food group or item the same. If you have more questions, I encourage you to take the time to listen to the episode in its entirety and discuss any follow up questions with your doctor or trusted healthcare professional.