Previously, we covered common misconceptions of dairy in the food industry and the best type of dairy products you should purchase for optimum health. While I don’t believe everyone should blindly follow every new diet fad, such as the gluten-free or dairy-free diet, I do have many clients and friends who have found relief from certain symptoms, after I put them on an elimination plan. For that, I’d like to indicate a few essential reminders to keep in mind, if you plan to try a dairy-free diet.
First and foremost, be wary of dairy-free alternatives. There are now numerous companies making cashew milk, soy milk, flax milk, rice milk, and more. We find dairy-free cheese, dairy-free yogurt, and dairy-free ice cream now popular in the market as well. Many snacks and boxed food now have dairy-free labels being stamped on the front, appealing to consumers. My concern is that many of these dairy-free products come with other additives and chemicals, either to thicken them, or to enhance the flavor and texture. Yogurts and such products may contain sugar and other flavor enhancers. Purchasing cow’s milk that is organic and grass-fed, free of any preservatives and additives, is incomparably better than purchasing soy milk, which may be genetically-modified or contain harmful thickening agents and additives.
Besides the concern of additives and preservatives, these products remain more processed than their natural counterpart. Raw organic whole cheese, organic butter, or full-fat milk- that’s grass-fed– is closest to nature and better for your body. Cheese that’s dairy-free, even if it’s clean of genetically-engineered ingredients, will still consist of more processing. Butter like spreads and sticks are also very popular, but in fact, are of the products I advise my clients to avoid completely. Butter, if organic and grass-fed, however is very healthy. Many holistic doctors are now recommending to clients, and people alike, to put butter back on their plate. Purchasing butter like spreads that are full of soy, genetically engineered oils like canola, or even artificial yellow food dye is extremely unhealthy. These genetically engineered oils are linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, food allergies and other health effects. They are not going to prevent you from weight-loss, but instead have the opposite effect. Organic butter is a natural fat that grants satiety and balances blood sugar, while these alternative spreads mess with your blood sugar spike. Organic butter has one ingredient: butter, while these alternatives come with over a dozen- mostly chemicals you cannot pronounce. For that, it’s best to try sticking with whole foods, regardless of their calories or fat content.
If you have not been diagnosed with a dairy allergy or intolerance, then I highly advise that you keep dairy in your diet. However, I’d highlight that it is best if you stick with organic or grass-fed if possible, to avoid antibiotics and genetically engineered traces. When consuming organic or grass-fed products, you will also be intaking further natural vitamins and minerals not found in alternative products. Most substitutes are enriched with vitamins, often these vitamins are lab-made and not in their natural form. There is no doubt it will breakdown differently in your body.
If you realize that you find relief from removing dairy from your diet, that’s acceptable. Just keep these tips in mind, and be sure to gear towards whole foods as much as possible.
Noor Hani Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.