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What Dairy (Actually) May be Doing to Our Bodies: Debunking Dairy Myths

Most likely you’ve wondered about at least one or more of these questions concerning dairy: Do I need to have dairy in my diet to get enough calcium? Could I have a dairy allergy? Does dairy cause sinus problems? Will eating dairy affect my hormones? Does dairy contain antibiotics? If any of these questions speak to you, hang in tight while we address some of your concerns here.

For a long time, it has been assumed that diary strengthens bones and is a good source of calcium. Dairy is not all it's believed to be. Countries such as Africa and Asia have the lowest consumption rates of dairy and calcium and simultaneously have the lowest rates of osteoporosis (3). It has also been found that vitamin D is more helpful than calcium supplementation in decreasing fracture risk (3). Here are some other reasons why dairy may not be the best for our diet.

How to recognize a dairy allergy

Milk (and dairy) allergies are especially common to children. 2-3% of children under the age of 3 have a milk allergy (6). Dairy allergies occur when the body’s immune system doesn’t recognize the protein in dairy and attacks it (5). This can cause a range of symptoms from mild to life-threatening.

These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting

  • Stomach upset

  • Hives/rash

  • Swelling lips and face

  • Throat tightening

  • Wheezing

  • Blood in stool (common in infants)

  • Anaphylaxis (life-threatening reaction that causes breathing difficulties)

If you (or your child) have experienced any of these symptoms, it is important to stay off all dairy to avoid an allergic reaction. Also, if you have experienced severe symptoms or anaphylaxis you can ask your doctor about carrying epinephrine.

Dairy and sinus issues

The main protein found in dairy, casein, is a major cause of inflammation. It is one of the most inflammatory food products, second to gluten. If your reaction to eating dairy is not an allergy or an inability to break down lactose, it could be an immune response to casein (4). Inflammation from ingesting casein can also lead to eczema, ear infection congestion, sinus problems, acne and gut problems (2).

Dairy, antibiotics, and hormones

Cows are commonly put on rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), a hormone that is used to increase milk production (1). However, this unnatural hormonal interruption can cause infections in cows and results in them being put on antibiotics, that sometimes winds up in dairy products. There are many other hormones that are also injected in cows and infiltrate dairy products. These hormones can consequently affect us (1).

Dairy Alternatives

Instead of using dairy products, try these alternatives instead (lactose/casein-free):

  • unsweetened rice milk

  • unsweetened oat milk

  • unsweetened almond milk

  • unsweetened sunflower milk

  • unsweetened hazelnut milk

  • unsweetened coconut milk

  • unsweetened coconut yogurt

  • unsweetened kefir

Non-dairy sources of calcium

  • collard greens

  • salmon

  • black-strap molasses

  • almonds

  • sesame seeds

  • dried figs

  • tofu

  • Bok Choy


1. Campbell, B. Conventional dairy vs. raw dairy. Retrieved from

2. Hyman, M. 7 Takeaways about dairy from My Book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? Retrieved from

3. Hyman, M. Are You Still Consuming Dairy? Retrieved from

4. Meyers, A. The dangers of dairy. Retrieved from

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