Yogurt, cheese, milk, ice cream — let’s face it, dairy is delicious. But these days, there has been a lot of research showing that this food group isn’t exactly a great part of a healthy diet. Cue our sad face emoji. So we did a little digging to figure out what really happens when you stop eating dairy.
People stop eating dairy for a variety of reasons. Some choose to do so because they suffer from lactose intolerance. Others give it up in the hopes that they might have more energy and less bloating. And some others avoid it because they don’t want to ingest any animal products. No matter what your reasons are for going milk-free, you might notice some changes in your body when you take plunge and give up dairy. We’re here to walk you through what might happen.
To keep your bones strong, you need calcium. And even though you’ve learned your whole life that milk and dairy are essential to keeping your bones strong, that’s not necessarily the case. It may seem like foods such as milk and yogurt have high levels of calcium, but they really don’t have very much absorbable calcium, and that’s the stuff your body needs.
For example, only a third of lowfat cow milk, which has 125 mg of calcium, actually gets absorbed into your bones, while the calcium in kale (one serving has 150 mg) is 30 percent more absorbable than dairy. Your body gets way more calcium you’re getting if you go with the latter.
Furthermore, studies have shown that eating a lot of dairy can actually increase your risk of osteoporosis. So if you give up milk, don’t be surprised if your bones gradually become stronger and healthier. Of course, that will only happen if you’ve replaced the dairy with other plant-based foods that are rich in calcium, such as spinach, broccoli, kale, edamame, and tofu.
2Your skin might clear up.
If you’re struggling with acne, avoiding dairy might be a diet change worth trying. This Dartmouth study suggests that the hormones in milk can stimulate acne. So giving it up could mean clearer skin and less reliance on concealer. And we can all get behind that.
3Your stomach and digestive system might feel WAY better.
If you notice symptoms like bloating, gas, nausea, and cramps, then you might have undiagnosed lactose intolerance. After all, 75 percent of the human population lacks the enzyme to properly break down dairy, leaving most of us with all sorts of digestive issues from the dairy we consume.
Thus, cutting dairy out of your diet may make you feel much better. However, if you suspect lactose intolerance, experts suggest that you check with your doctor rather than self-diagnosing, because there could be other underlying causes. But if there’s any chance that going milk-free can improve your dining experience, then it might be worth it.
4You might lose weight.
Dairy contains a lot of sugar, so if you suddenly eliminate it from your diet, you might find that a few extra pounds fly off. However, this does depend on what you replace dairy with. If you’re eating whole foods rather than processed goods, you’ll likely see some weight fall off—even if you’re not necessarily trying to lose weight. Before you think about losing or gaining any weight, though, it’s imperative you speak to your medical provider first so they can help you make a decision that will best suit your body.
5Your cancer risk could go down.
Studies have shown that dairy contains micronutrients and several bioactive constituents that could correlate with increased risk or heightened progression of cancer. A Harvard’s Physicians Health Study showed that men who consumed two or more servings of dairy a day had a 34 percent higher chance of contracting prostate cancer than those who ate little or no dairy.
Furthermore, research has shown that levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) increases in the bloodstream when you consume dairy, and IGF-1 is a stimulus for cancer cell growh that has been linked to breast cancer. Avoid dairy and you might lower your risk for developing breast cancer in the future.
6You might experience dairy withdrawals.
As with any habit, your body gets used to eating certain things. And when you stop consuming milk, your body might miss it at first. And if you do have a bad reaction to dairy, your immune system may still be hypersensitive to fighting off dairy in your system, so it may take some time for the symptoms you experienced to dissipate. Like anything, your body needs time to adjust, so don’t be shocked if you don’t feel a change immediately.
7You may have fewer migraines.
If you’re a long-time migraine sufferer, you probably know that food can be a MAJOR trigger. And one well-documented food that causes migraines is cheese. So if you have migraines and you haven’t pinned down your trigger, cutting aged cheese out of your diet may help a lot. Turns out, a natural chemical called tyramine found in aged cheese can cause migraines. Some cultured dairy products like yogurt and sour cream can be triggers as well. Speak to your doctor if you have any questions about how your diet may affect your headaches.
8The size of your boobs might decrease.
Nutritional therapist Darshi Shah told Bustle that eating less dairy can cause your breast size to go down. Dairy products contains hormones, and those hormones can interact with your hormones, causing an increase in breast size. Scientists have noticed that overall, our breasts seem to have increased in size in the past 100 years. When they try to pinpoint a reason why, one of the theories is the hormones added to dairy products have affected our hormones and made our breasts bigger.
So whether you decide to give up dairy or not, at least now you have the facts.
And remember, before making too many drastic changes to your diet, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor to make sure you’re still keeping your body healthy and happy.