The Dairy Dilemma: Separating Fact from Fiction
In our latest Quickie Episode, we delve into the complex world of dairy. The question “Is dairy good for you?” has sparked debates for years, leaving many of us unsure about whether to embrace it or avoid it entirely.
Listen here as we embark on a journey through the current research landscape, exploring the potential benefits and concerns associated with dairy consumption. From the intriguing concept of “leaky brain” to the microbiome-modulating effects of dairy products, she breaks down the science and offers practical insights.
- Topic: Dairy’s Impact on Health
- Dairy’s reputation as both beneficial and harmful is confusing
- Listener question: Does dairy cause leaky brain?
- Introduction to leaky brain concept – parallels to leaky gut
- Role of blood-brain barrier in allowing specific substances into brain fluid
- Mention of dairy-derived peptides affecting mood, particularly in infants
- Research Insights on Dairy
- Mention of the systemic review in 2020 on dairy’s effects on gut microbiome
- Dairy products (milk, yogurt, kefir) positively influence gut microbiome
- Dairy’s potential positive impact on mood and inflammation
- Mention of dairy-derived hormone secretion and immune system response
- Discussion of potential for casein to cross blood-brain barrier and its link to autism (limited human studies)
- Overall population studies suggest dairy consumption correlates with lower inflammation levels
- Individual Variability and Dairy
- Clarification: Focus on protein elements of dairy rather than lactose
- Reference to lactose intolerance (enzyme deficiency)
- Dairy allergy/sensitivity as an immune-mediated reaction
- Personal examples of clients benefiting from dairy-free diets for conditions like autism, eczema, autoimmune disorders
- Dairy Inclusion and Exclusion
- Highlighting dairy’s nutritional value: protein, fat-soluble vitamins, prebiotics, calcium
- Warning against blanket dairy exclusion without reason
- Emphasis on controlled experiments: eliminate dairy, observe effects, reintroduce
- Promoting overall gut health as a factor in dairy tolerance
- Balanced Dairy Consumption
- Emphasis on responsible dairy consumption if tolerated
- Mention of osteopenia/osteoporosis risks due to calcium deficiency
- Addressing misconceptions about dairy’s negative impact
- Reminder of potential reversibility of dairy intolerance
- Dairy Fat and Organic Choices
- Importance of fat content in dairy for nutrient absorption and blood sugar control
- Recommendation: Choose full-fat or at least low-fat dairy
- Suggestion to consider organic dairy for improved quality
- Closing Thoughts
- Dairy’s gray area: not all good or bad, varies by individual
- Encouragement to test dairy tolerance before excluding it
- Empowered Nutrition Health’s approach to supporting clients with digestion, metabolism, and hormones
- Audience invited to send questions to the podcast
- References used:
We believe this episode will help you navigate the often confusing world of nutrition, providing you with a balanced perspective on the role of dairy in your diet. As always, your feedback is valuable to us. If you enjoyed this episode or have any questions, we encourage you to leave us a positive review on your preferred podcast platform. Your support helps us continue creating content that empowers you on your health journey.If you have questions you’d like us to address in future Quickie Episodes or in-depth discussions, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for being a part of the Empowered Nutrition community. Here’s to your health and happiness!
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Hey, empowered Nutrition podcast listeners. I hope everything is perfect in your world and amazing. This is Erin Skinner. This is just such a quick little episode, and we’re playing around with a new format of just having some
Quickie little episodes, answer some of your questions. If you have a burning question related to nutrition as it relates to digestion, metabolism, or hormones,
Send it over to us.
We’re at podcast at Empowered Nutrition Health. And without further ado, let’s get into the episode. Today we’re gonna talk about dairy. Is dairy amazing for you? Is dairy an absolute dumpster fire? Is it somewhere in between? What is the deal? Dairy is something that confuses everyone. And even if you sh do eat dairy, what dairy should I eat? It
Can be very confusing. So we’ll touch on a few things in the literature on that. Real quick, if you love the Empowered Nutrition podcast, or even if you semi love it, either way, can you leave us a positive review wherever you listen to podcasts. We’re on a little push to ask for reviews. We rarely do, but if you could leave us one, if you’re a regular listener, please do, and we’d really appreciate it. All right, well, let’s talk about dairy. So the listener question specifically ask about does dairy cause leaky brain, which is a whole nother level of topic, but if you’ve heard of leaky gut, you know that that means that there’s components from the, the lumen of the gut, that inside of the gut crossing through the tissue into the blood on the other side of the gut wall. And leaky brain is a similar concept where you have your blood brain barrier that should be selectively only allowing specific things into that fluid that surrounds the brain. But oh my gosh, the the blood brain barrier is leaky. It’s letting too many things in, and that is a real thing. But the question is, does dairy specifically cause that? And, and, and then the other part of the question was what if, what if you don’t have lactose intolerance?
Is there ever a reason why you should be dairy free? I think that’s a question that can, can everybody can almost relate to. So one thing that I think is interesting to talk about
As an intro to this is that there are some peptides or proteins in milk that do cross even healthy blood, blood-brain barrier, and that is believed to serve a function for breastfeeding
Infants because it makes them want breast milk and it makes them feel like very blissed
Out when they get breast milk, the protein’s not breast milk comes through, touches their brain, it makes ’em feel amazing. And if you’ve ever breastfed a baby, you’ve seen this or sand where your baby is ticked off, you nurse your baby and it’s just like, like chilling. It’s like happy and like blis out completely. There’s actually a, the, a dairy derived peptide that does that by crossing through the blood brainin barrier and, and, and calming your baby. We know that that that dairy even in adults does have a calming response and can be, and ha can have a positive impact on mood. And so the question of like, does dairy come through your, your blood-brain barrier is kind of like, well, yes, some very few specifically casing parts of that does, but is that a problem? So, but so like to back out from that a little bit, let’s look at some big picture like reviews on the topic of dairy as it as it serves in terms of health and human human health basically.
So in 2020, and we’ll put this in the show notes, there’s an article, there was a system systematic review on the effects of dairy on the gut microbiome. And basically they concluded that dairy products like milk yogurt and kear modulate the gut microbiome composition to favor the host. So this is not on trend. It’s actually like, wow, dairy might be helping your gut health. I think a lot of times in our kind of like weird diet, social media, like trending topics, we think dairy is horrible for us. But the overall, a systematic review means they’ve looked at all the research up until 2020 and it seems to be that it makes the microbiome healthier. And that’s not just the fermented dairy, the key fear, it’s also milk as well. And then in another recent review on leaky gut and leaky brain, they basically said that when it comes to the way that dairy interfaces with the brain, it causes gi derived hormone secretion.
That then that does allow some parts of dairy and even some other elements to permeate the blood-brain barrier and then really cause a release of cytokines which are part of the immune system. So there can be some immune reactivity to to dairy itself that is kind of like need to be researched in terms of what the effects are. And specifically they believe that caine may potentially cross through the gut blood brainin barrier the most. And that’s most discussed in like autism circles. Like could it be that casein is promoting autism symptoms by the way that it interacts with the brain, but it’s important to know that that really hasn’t been studied in humans. And so we don’t know for sure that casein promotes autism versus doesn’t in terms of how, how severe the symptoms are now. And then like another study that again, we’ll link in the study looks at overall inflammation levels in light of that inflammatory kind of cascade we talked about, does it do anything When they look at population levels overall, they see that it actually appears to be that in general people who eat dairy have lower inflammation.
So this is just to kind of paint the whole picture of like, can there be potential mechanisms that could be problems for individuals? Yes. But on a population level, is dairy just like over the, across the board harmful? No, it appears to be that actually lowers inflammation, makes the microbiome healthier on average. So what do you do with that? Well, so lactose intolerance is just a, is just a reactivity to the carbohydrate. A a maldigestion where you don’t make the enzyme, the lactase enzyme that breaks down lactose. So if you don’t digest milk and dairy, well because of lactose, that’s not really what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about more the protein elements of dairy that can, that are digested, absorbed by the body, and then how does it react on overall health? And when we look at that, it is possible to have a dairy allergy or a dairy sensitivity that is immune mediated.
So if that is the case, you may have reactivity to dairy. So like I have had patients with autism who respond positively to a dairy-free diet. So in that person there is potentially a problem with the way that they’re interacting with potentially the casein and the diet. I’ve seen people who have eczema or psoriasis who respond positively to a dairy-free diet. I’ve had, I’ve had clients with autoimmunity, with Sjogren’s syndrome, with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism with MS that react positively to a dairy-free diet. So on an individual level, you certainly can have reactivity to dairy, but just because of that, that doesn’t mean that everyone should go on a dairy-free diet. In full disclosure, I have dairy every day. I have, I have kefi, I have live yogurt. I don’t only drink milk, but I I eat cheese, I rea I’m fine with dairy. It doesn’t bother me, but for some of my clients it can be life changing to remove it.
So what what I, where I’m going with this is that it shouldn’t just be taken out of your diet for no reason. It has a lot of important nutrients in it. It has protein, it has fat soluble vitamins. It has, it can be a fermented food that helps with the gut microbiome in that way. It has prebiotic, carbo, short chain carbohydrates in it. So it can be an important part of a really good quality diet if you tolerate it, if you suspect that you maybe don’t tolerate it, what I recommend is that you do a controlled experiment, keep the rest, rest of your diet exactly the same, and then take dairy completely out of your diet for about four weeks or 30 days and then bring it back and see what happens. And you can even do that a few times just to see if you’re not sure, to see if, okay, it kind of seemed like I felt different off dairy, but I wasn’t sure.
You can repeat it and see if and see if it’s repeatable and then you really know. So, so that’s what we do in clinical practice with dairy in, in general, it’s healthy unless for you it’s not tolerated. And if for you it’s not tolerated, you can figure that out by doing the reintroduction, the elimination reintroduction process. Just don’t take it out forever and then just never try to challenge it because again, it’s, it can be a really important part of your, your diet. We didn’t even talk about calcium, but so many women, especially in my practice are putting themselves at very severe risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis and even exacerbating it because they’re not eating dairy and so they’re, and they’re not getting nearly enough calcium and that really threatens their bone health and they’re not even sure why they’re not eating it. They just in general think it’s bad for them.
So that’s, that’s foul play in my opinion. It’s important to have dairy. If you tolerate it, it can be a very great way to get, again, the protein, the fat-soluble vitamins, the prebiotics and the calcium. But then again, if you don’t tolerate it, do that reintroduction, that elimination reintroduction. Don’t just take it out for no reason and keep it out without testing it. If you do have some type of condition where you feel better off of dairy. Another thing to think about is getting to the root cause of that. Could it be that your gut health is compromise? That’s usually a primary reason why people develop a sensitivity or an intolerance to dairy. So think about the last episode that I did on recently on how to optimize your gut health and take a look at that and think about things you can do to optimize your gut health.
Maybe because you don’t tolerate dairy right now doesn’t mean you never will. So that’s something to think about as well is why don’t you tolerate it? It’s usually not just a purely genetic thing that’s set in stone. There’s usually some mofi modifiable things you can do on it. Last thing on it, okay, no two. And again, this is a short episode, so I’m gonna go very brief, but another challenge I have is when people are always eating fat-free dairy, a lot of the nutrients in dairy are in the fat and it also lowers the glycemic index of the dairy if you have fat in it so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as much. So either go full fat dairy or at least go low fat, which means some fat, but make sure you’re not having fat free dairy. And then the last thing is, is I really don’t have my clients eat a fully organic diet most of the time.
It’s very rare that I do that just because of the cost of it. But I think dairy is one area where you can benefit from, from investing in organic dairy products instead of conventional. Again, if you can’t afford it, don’t stress over it. But if you can afford organic dairy, I would recommend doing that. Hope you guys enjoy the episode. I hope it clarified a little bit about how to think about dairy. It’s, it’s one of those gray area foods. It’s probably, there’s just a few foods that are like that where it’s like, ugh, it’s not, it’s not all good, it’s not all bad, it’s in between. But in general it’s good as long as you can tolerate it. And if you’re not sure you should test it. And if you can’t tolerate it, get help with resolving it. ’cause often it is resolvable. And on that note, if you are curious about how we help our clients to overcome their challenges around their digestion, their metabolism, and their hormones, feel free to check us out at Empowered Nutrition Health. And again, if you have questions you’d love us to answer in a mini session or a mini episode, send ’em over to us at podcast at Empowered Nutrition Health. Have a great rest of your day guys. Take care.
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