KNOW THIS: Humans aren’t built to tolerate dairy after childhood.
WHY? Only 35% of people carry a mutant gene allowing them to digest milk.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT? If you ever suffer from symptoms such as cramping, bloating, diarrhoea, acne, eczema or asthma, consider whether you are intolerant.
No whey! I’m not a weirdo after all.
Food intolerances – the bane of every chef’s life. Everyone seems to be claiming they’re intolerant to one thing or another these days, but there is one thing that most people are legitimately intolerant to, and that’s diary.
Around 65% of people in the world lose their ability to digest lactose after childhood, and the reason that the rest can is down to a mutated gene that appeared 7,500 years ago in dairy farmers who lived in a region between the central Balkans and central Europe.
Lactose is the main sugar found in milk. The enzyme that enables us to break down lactose is called lactase, and this usually stops being produced when the person is between two and five years old. However some people carry a mutated gene, making them lactase persistent, meaning they continue to produce lactase into adulthood.
Where your genes originate from depends on the likelihood of you being able to digest lactose. Sweden has one of the world’s lowest percentages of lactose intolerant people in the world.
If you think about it, it kinda makes sense that we shouldn’t be drinking milk into adulthood – no other species does it. And to make it worse, we’re not even drinking the milk of our own species! Bleurgh!
As well as causing cramping, bloating, nausea and diarrhoea for those intolerant to lactose, dairy has also been linked to acne, eczema, asthma and even cancer.
The hormones in cow’s milk contains hormones that have been linked to breast and prostate cancer, and casein (milk protein) has been found to promote cancer in all stages of its development.
In the case of eczema I know first hand that it can cause it. Consuming a large amount of lactose is like food poisoning to me, but even if I consume a tiny amount by accident – say in a restaurant – I’ll get eczema on my head, which then clears up after a week or so. I also saw the difference cutting out dairy made to may cousin who had been suffering from a bad bout of eczema that completely covered both her arms. After seven days of being dairy-free the eczema had cleared up.
If you do currently suffer from acne, eczema or cramping, bloating, nausea and diarrhoea then it’s worth cutting out dairy from your diet completely for a week to see if you feel any better. But if you are going to do this you must be extremely strict, or else your experiment will fail. Lactose is in so many things you wouldn’t expect – crisps, sauces, cereals etc – so you must check the label of EVERYTHING you consume to make sure you’re not digesting any lactose unknowingly.
Cutting out dairy improved my health dramatically, and you never know, it could do the same for you.
Check out my post on making the switch to being dairy-free here.