Is dairy good for me?
Dairy makes me feel ‘blegh’. Should I eat it or not?
Dairy is in the Australian Dietary Guidelines for a reason.
It not only provides us with a rich source of calcium (“drink that milk for strong bones!” *Grandma voice*), but also offers a quality source of protein, phosphorus, vitamin B2 and B12, iodine, and much more.
Unfortunately, many people suffer from something called ‘lactose intolerance’, meaning they do not produce the enzyme ‘lactase’ in sufficient quantities, to break down naturally occurring lactose in milk and dairy products. The lactose ends up sitting in their gut ‘not moving anywhere’, leading to bloating, gassiness, nausea, pain and potentially diarrhoea depending on the person and severity of the intolerance.
Many lactose intolerance sufferers perceive they cannot consume any dairy in their diet, somewhat understandably out of fear of what symptoms could result if they do.
That’s where I come to save the day, SuperMan-nutritionist style, to reassure you that there ARE in fact dairy options and alternatives for those who struggle with full-blown dairy.
LACTOSE-FREE COW’S MILKS
Find them in the refrigerator or long-life milk section, these milks have the lactase-enzyme added into them, which ‘pre-digests’ lactose for the drinker. Zymil and Liddell’s are 2x main brands, but many more are starting to hit the market.
LOWER LACTOSE YOGHURTS
Chobani FIT and YoPro are 2x nutritional powerhouse products. They are high in protein, low in fat, have no added sugar, are a source of calcium, and better yet, have some lactase added into them, meaning those with mild to moderate lactose intolerance can often tolerate these without symptoms.
Lactose is found dissolved in the water-component of milk. When making hard cheeses, the protein and fat components, as well as hard-minerals, are the things which form hard-cheese. Additionally, aged hard cheeses contain bacteria which ferment remaining lactose. Therefore, minimal lactose is left-over following cheese production, meaning lactose intolerance sufferers generally tolerate hard cheeses pretty well. Some examples include tasty, swisse and parmesan.
PLANT BASED MILK ALTERNATIVES
If cow’s milk isn’t for you, then rest assured there are increasing numbers and varieties of plant based milks on the market. Varieties include soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, macadamia milk and many more.
When choosing a milk alternative, it’s highly important to look at its CALCIUM content. Unlike cow’s milk, plant based milk sources are NOT naturally concentrated sources of calcium, so manufacturers need to add calcium into the milks themselves.
When choosing one, make sure there is AT LEAST 100mg calcium/100ml of milk (look at the per 100ml column- no worries, you don’t need to be good at maths!).
The Sanitarium ‘So Good’ range for both almond and soy milks is great, as well as much of the Vitasoy range.
So, lactose intolerance sufferers, I hope I have re-instilled some hope within you that it is NOT necessary to completely eliminate dairy from your diet. Enjoy some of these alternatives and suggestions and reap the benefits which dairy has to offer you!