Friday, July 15, 2011

Why People Go Dairy-Free

Consuming dairy rich products is a way of life for many folks. For them, living without cream cheese, sour cream, and chocolate chip ice cream would be inconceivable. However, there are a growing number of individuals who are opting to live a dairy-free lifestyle for a variety of reasons. Some of those include:

Lactose-intolerance – This is when the body stops producing an enzyme called “lactase,” which is the natural sugar in milk that causes unpleasant gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and/or nausea.

Milk allergies – This is when the body reacts to the proteins in milk that can cause hives, rashes, nausea, diarrhea, congestion, or even swelling in the mouth or throat. Although milk allergies are the most common childhood food allergy, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says that 80 percent of children outgrow it before they turn 16 years of age.

Health factors – Dairy products are one of the biggest sources of saturated fat in American diets. This stimulates the body to produce more cholesterol that clog up arteries and causes a number of health issues such as heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Other conditions such as autism, migraines, and prostate cancer have also been linked to dairy consumption.

Weight issues – Dairy products generally contain a lot of calories. Even a glass of skim milk is 100 calories. When you factor in other high calorie foods such as sour cream, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream – that’s a lot of milk sugar and fat that will quickly settle on your hips.

Ethical considerations – Many people avoid dairy out of a strong sense of compassion for animals because they believe it is wrong to use animals for food they don’t need. For more information about ethics surrounding animal rights, go to the website for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Environmental concerns – A lot of people are concerned about how the meat and dairy industries (which go hand-in-hand) are affecting the environment. In addition to being nervous about how mass animal agriculture affects climate change, there are also concerns about the over-abundant use of Earth’s natural resources.

Whether you are thinking about dairy-free lifestyle by choice or necessity, just know that there are a lot of nutritional and palatable options. You can get off to an easy start by taking the 10-day dairy challenge at Go Dairy Free, which offers a lot of resources and recipes for free.

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