It seems that the topic of dairy is popping up a lot lately, with veganism becoming more common and questions surrounding the real healthiness of dairy arising.
At the Wellness Factory, we are all about boosting our health and wellbeing. And, of course, a huge factor in this is our diet.
So, is it really necessary to consume dairy products? Are they really that good for you? And how can vegans get the same nutritional value without consuming dairy? Let’s find out…
Is It natural to eat dairy?
Many people would argue that consuming dairy products is completely unnatural. As humans, we are the only species that drink milk in adulthood - not only that, but we drink milk from other animals.
Before the agricultural revolution, consuming milk into adulthood simply was not done. As infants, we would drink our mother’s milk (as all mammals do), but after weaning off from this, we wouldn’t consume dairy again in our lives.
Although after years of evolution many of the world’s population have adapted to consuming dairy from cows and goats in adulthood, we could still argue that - from the perspective mentioned above - this isn’t natural.
But even if consuming dairy isn’t what nature intended, it could have some health benefits…
Is dairy good for you?
Interestingly, about 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant - lactose being a main component of dairy. This means that, when they consume milk products, they can experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
This is more common in Africa, Asia, and South America - not so much in Europe, Australia, and North America.
So, obviously, dairy is not ‘good’ for the vast majority of humans.
If you aren’t lactose intolerant, dairy could be good for you due to all of the beneficial nutrients it contains. However, some people claim that dairy makes them feel bloated, causes skin problems, and other negative effects - this could be a sign of more subtle lactose intolerance since lactose can simply be very difficult to digest.
On top of this, milk and other dairy products are one of the top sources of saturated fat, contributing to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s. Dairy has even been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancers.
Of course, all of this is open for debate. It’s not a definite truth that drinking cows milk will give you heart disease or cancer, especially if you are consuming organic, nutritious whole milk and tend to avoid high-sugar dairy products.
In addition to this, many people choose not to consume dairy products if they follow a vegan diet. This may be due to environmental implications or concerns surrounding the treatment of animals in the dairy industry.
So, dairy isn’t necessarily good for our health, but it does provide an easy way to get loads of essential nutrients.
What nutrients do we get from dairy?
First and foremost, dairy provides us with lots of protein. Protein is absolutely essential for building, maintaining, and repairing muscles, and is also great for producing energy.
And of course, the one that everybody knows - dairy contains lots of calcium! Calcium is a vital mineral for keeping the bones and teeth strong, as well as keeping the heart, muscles, and nerves healthy.
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium in the body in order to support the functions we mentioned above. This vitamin is not found naturally in many foods - we actually get most of it from natural sunlight. So, the fact that dairy contains vitamin D is very beneficial.
Dairy contains vitamin B12, which keeps the nerves and blood cells healthy. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to Anemia.
Dairy also contains vitamin B2, which helps to maintain the body’s energy supply by breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
In addition to the above, dairy also contains smaller amounts of vitamin A, B-vitamins, and other essential minerals.
How to supplement the nutrients we get from dairy
Now, here’s the good news. If you don’t want to consume dairy, then you don’t have to! It’s perfectly possible - and actually very easy - to supplement all of the nutrients we get from dairy.
This means we can still reap the same health benefits without having to suffer any of the negatives associated with consuming cow or goat milk.
Plant-based protein powders, such as pea or hemp protein, provide an excellent way to get your daily protein intake without consuming any animal products. Plus, they usually contain a good amount of calcium!
You can use vitamin D supplements to get your daily vitamin D intake without worrying about consuming dairy or getting enough sun exposure.
You can also supplement the B-vitamins very easily. You can find specific vitamin B12 supplements which contains all of the vital b-vitamins, along with a whole host of other vitamins and minerals.
If you’re choosing to avoid dairy, be sure to browse more vegan supplements and wellness products here.