Dairy products have long been included in the diets of the masses. In recent years, there has been a shift away from dairy products by some individuals and groups. There are numerous reasons for this shift. Some individuals suffer from lactose intolerance. Others have milk allergies. Some want to avoid exposure to specific hormones in certain types of milk. Still, others are interested in weight loss and want to avoid the high fat content of dairy products.
In the case of some individuals, the body is unable to metabolize the lactose in dairy products. Those who suffer from lactose intolerance experience a range of unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, nausea, diarrhea, cramping and flatulence. The severity of these symptoms varies from individual to individual and is also dependent on the amount of dairy products consumed.
People who suffer from lactose intolerance are better off avoiding dairy products altogether. There are dairy substitutes on the market which include rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, soy cheese, rice cheese, almond cheese, among other options.
Others who avoid milk may not be lactose intolerant but may be allergic to milk. This is when a person has a negative immune response to the proteins in milk. Those with milk allergies may experience vomiting, hives or wheezing immediately after consuming milk or milk products. Other allergy symptoms which may take longer to develop include watery eyes, runny nose, a rash, cramps or diarrhea.
Hormones in Dairy Products
Another reason many people are avoiding dairy products is the presence of genetically engineered bovine growth hormones in milk. These hormones are thought to increase risks for cancer. Those who are concerned about this risk may choose to avoid buying milk from cows that are treated with this hormone. Since organic milk is sometimes difficult to find, some individuals opt for dairy product alternatives such as the rice, almond and soy varieties mentioned above.
Dairy Products and Weight Loss
Individuals who are trying to lose weight may be avoiding dairy products because they are higher in fat and calories. Regular milk and even low-fat milk contain high amounts of fat. Cheeses also fall into the same category with their high fat and calorie content. For dieters, avoiding dairy products altogether is a recommendation of some diet programs.
However, dairy products do provide essential nutrients that need to be replaced. Products such as yogurt, cheese and milk are good sources of vitamin B12 and vitamin A. They are also a good source of protein and calcium. Calcium strengthens the bones, so if a person is cutting out dairy products, careful consideration must be given to replace those nutrients by way of other nutrient-rich foods.
Dairy products, while packed with essential nutrients, do pose a problem for some individuals. For those with milk allergies and lactose intolerance, they are not a reasonable option. For anyone who feels strongly about genetically engineered hormones, organic varieties or dairy replacements are better options. Luckily, dairy product alternatives do exist and there are many other foods that contain the same essential nutrients.