Lactose Intolerance: You Don’t Need Dairy to be Healthy

Walking into a grocery store and going through the dairy aisle after finding out you’re lactose intolerant can be a sad experience. Why? Because most of us, if not all of us, have grown up under the guise that milk is essential to build bone strength and get calcium into our systems. 

But what if I told you that milk, cheese, and yogurt are not all that and a bag of chips? It’s true. Our body’s don’t need dairy products to survive. In fact, 68% of the world’s population has an intolerance to dairy. So why are we pushing it on ourselves so much?

Myths of Dairy

To understand this, we need to take a look at some of the top myths around dairy and debunk them.

Myth #1: You Have to Consume Dairy to Hit your Calcium Intake for the Day.

Of course there are things that the dairy industry doesn’t want you to know. And for the most part, from childhood leading into adulthood, we as a society stay ignorant. However, more and more individuals are realizing that no, you do not need dairy products in order to improve your calcium intake. 

The odd bit of information that you may not know is that not all dairy products are created equal when it comes to calcium. Which is why calcium is often added to milk as a way to even out levels across the span of dairy. So you may not even be getting the amount of dairy you’re thinking you are. So, the next question is. How can I possibly get calcium and vitamin D without dairy products? 

Whether you are lactose intolerant or just want to get away from dairy products, finding substitutes for calcium may be easier than you thought. For example, a single ounce or just about 2 tablespoons of chia seeds can supply your body with roughly 179 mg of calcium. If seeds aren’t your thing and you prefer eating things like nuts then perhaps almonds are your preferred snack. A singular cup of whole almonds is 385 mg of calcium. For most this is about a third of the calcium intake needed for a day. Of course, if you’re more of a vegetable eater then kale or broccoli may be your chosen calcium source. With kale coming in at 180 mg for 2 cups and 87 mg for a single cup of broccoli. 

Myth #2: Dairy Products are Great for Your Health.

Again, for those with a lactose intolerance, there are obvious reasons that dairy is not the best option for living your best life. However, for most Americans dairy products are an essential part of their diet. And while you can increase your health to some degree with dairy products. Given that it has several essential vitamins and minerals.

It also has one thing that can cause you problems in the long run. An overabundance of fat. Because it is the top source of saturated fat in the United States, it comes as no surprise that we’re dealing with an increase in things like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s. 

Not only that, when it comes to cancer, you’d be surprised to learn that dairy products often increase chances of breast, ovarian, and even prostate cancer in both men and women.

Myth #3: You Need Dairy for Bone Health

Drinking milk has always been antiquated with the need to keep our bones strong. In most cases, milk has been shoved into the faces of our youth for decades through using celebrities as well as the “Got Milk?” advertising campaign. Why, because strong bones are supposedly supposed to be possible through the express use of dairy products as a calcium source. 

But again, newer research has proven this to be a complete falsehood. Research published in the British Medical Journal shows that there is a lack of evidence that using dairy as a daily source of calcium has any way of reducing fractures or breaks. In fact, in one of the studies, it was surmised that men that drank milk often as teenagers saw more bone fractures as adult males. 

That being said, if you’re looking to replace dairy in your diet because of a lactose intolerance, or just because you’re reading this and realizing it’s not necessary. Here is a list of substitutes that will still give you calcium and vitamin D. The two, oh so common vitamins and minerals associated with dairy. 

Sources of Calcium & Vitamin D

  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Dried figs
  • White beans
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Okra
  • Mushrooms
  • Salmon

Other Ways to Fortify Bones without Dairy

While in most cases you can get your daily intake of vitamin D and calcium from plants. Lactose intolerance can seem like a death sentence when you first find out you have it. And while they have certain medications that mask the symptoms. You’ll never truly get rid of the intolerance. Not to mention, since it’s been drilled into our minds that we have to have dairy for strong bones since childhood, it can be pretty jarring when we realize it’s a falsehood. So what can we do if we’re worried about bone health? 

There are several options. You could get testing done to see how bad your calcium and vitamin D is. You could also start taking SARMs as a way to increase bone health. SARMs are selective androgen receptor modulators. Most of which are under research as ways to reverse or reduce muscle wasting as well as treat things like osteoporosis. To find out more on these different SARMs you can visit our blog page to get a snapshot of what each one can do for you.