These Are What Will Happen to Your Body If You Stop Eating Dairy
The main health benefits of eating dairy include building bones and teeth and maintaining body mass. However, it’s way more crucial for kids when they just start growing up. Adults don’t necessarily need dairy to sustain a healthy life, especially if they replace it with other foods that contain essential nutrients.
Making any change to your diet, whether large or small, can be nerve-wracking. When your body has become so accustomed to consuming and digesting a product, it can be concerning to completely eliminate it. One product that more and more people seem to be cutting out is dairy.
Whether you want to cut out dairy for ethical reasons, because consuming it doesn’t make your body feel great anymore, or because you’ve seen it have a positive impact on others — such as with celebrity Khloe Kardashian who credits the elimination of dairy for part of her weight loss — this could be a great choice for you. There’s a lot you need to consider, however, before you make the leap, including how your body could react.
According to Sandra Paterra, certified health counselor, explains that when you give up eating dairy, “you will be eating less lactose and less sugar.” This is especially important for individuals who suffer from lactose intolerance. “Many people cannot digest the lactose and are sensitive to it, therefore suffer with digestive issues,” she adds.
Remember, if you do decide to stop consuming dairy, you have to make up for the loss of dairy’s nutrients in other ways. Take a calcium supplement for strong bones and reduced risk for osteoporosis; and go outside and expose yourself to the sun to reduce your risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Here, dietitians break down six things that can happen—from weight loss to glowing skin—when you take dairy out of your diet:
1. You’ll stop experiencing stomach pain, bloating, and gas.
When your body can’t break down lactose, it creates acids and gases in your intestinal tract, says Zeitlin—and those things cause painful stomach cramps, bloating, and gas. When you stop eating dairy, “you should expect to not have any of these icky stomach issues anymore,” Zeitlin says.
2. You might lose a few pounds.
Lactose is sugar, and sugar can contribute to weight gain. When you remove dairy from your diet, “the biggest difference you’ll see is your reduction in sugar consumption from the lactose-containing portions of certain dairy products,” says Coogan. Reducing sugar intake is one of the first steps many take towards weight loss.
3. Your bathroom time will be more pleasant.
An unfortunate result of consuming dairy when your body is unable to break it down is diarrhea, says Zeitlin. “Diarrhea happens because your lactose intolerance is increasing the amount of water in your colon when you take in dairy,” she explains. By removing this food group, “you’ll have normal stools,” she says. Constipation can also be a symptom of dairy intolerance. Though it’s not as common as diarrhea, you should also expect to feel a relief from constipation as well because your GI system will be digesting better and therefore degrading waste easier, Zeitlin says.
4. You may improve your overall gut health.
For people who don’t tolerate dairy well, milk, cheese, and other dairy products with additives “can be quite inflammatory and cause irregularities in the gut bacteria,” says Coogan. Those artificial ingredients can cause various sensitivities, as well as overgrowth of yeast and inflammation of the GI tract—which can lead to fatigue, an upset stomach, and nausea. But removing dairy can help to heal your gut and replenish its healthy bacteria over time.
5. Your skin could look better.
“Our bodies purge waste and toxins three ways: urinating, pooping, and through our pores,” says Zeitlin. And if you’re sensitive to dairy, that sensitivity may come through your skin in the form of whiteheads, breakouts, rashes, and even eczema. Some research suggests that dairy is associated with an increased risk for developing acne in young adults, but more long-term studies are needed to back up these findings.
6. Your body will be less inflamed.
Inflammation is a serious issue: It can cause “many health issues, such as a dysfunctional thyroid gland or joint pain,” says Coogan. But removing dairy could reduce inflammation for those who are sensitive or allergic to it. Of course, if you’re concerned about inflammation but aren’t sensitive to dairy, there are other ways to reduce it. “Incorporating fish or a fish oil supplement into your diet, or eating more omega-3-rich foods, such as avocados, walnuts, and oils can help reduce inflammation,” she says. In addition to following an antioxidant-rich diet, exercising and meditating can also help lower inflammation caused by stress.