Living the Lactose-Free Life

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Growing up, we were often taught that drinking a glass of milk every day is the key to having strong bones and living a healthy lifestyle. While the calcium in milk and other dairy products can be beneficial to one’s overall health, for some, dairy can also cause a wide variety of health problems and inconveniences. Knowing whether or not to cut out an entire food group is no easy decision, but if dairy is constantly causing you more harm than good, it may be something to take into consideration.

Knowing When To Cut Out Dairy

We all love a late-night ice cream run, but if you find yourself with an extra blemish or two soon after, dairy may be the culprit. Milk products nowadays tend to have added hormones, which can create an imbalance with the hormones already produced by your body. These hormones can stimulate oil glands, which tricks your body into over-producing oils. The result: those pesky and unwanted blemishes.

Many dairy products can cause a spike in insulin levels, which is also known to be a potential cause of acne. If you’re struggling with your skin, consider cutting out dairy for about two to three weeks to see if it makes a difference. Even if your skin doesn’t completely clear up, you’ll probably notice how much brighter and healthier it looks overall.

It’s common for greasy and high fat foods to make you feel a little bloated after eating, but if you notice that this is even more common after consuming cheese or ice cream, it may be dairy causing these problems. Being sensitive to dairy is actually a more common health concern than often realized.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), an estimated 30 to 50 million American adults are lactose intolerant to some degree. While most lactose sensitivity comes from milk, many people who are lactose intolerant can eat cheese, yogurt and a variety of other dairy products. No two people are the same when it comes to their ability to process lactose, so it’s important to remove dairy products one by one to see if there is a specific one that may be at fault.

There is also a lot of discussion in the nutrition world about whether or not cutting out dairy can help with weight loss.

A few years ago, Khloé Kardashian took to social media about how removing dairy from her diet helped her lose weight, but nutritionists haven’t exactly reached a definitive conclusion about this yet. Some argue that calcium and other vitamins in dairy can help speed up the metabolism, but others believe that the high fat content often found in dairy can make it more challenging to shed those extra pounds.

The Best of Alternative Dairy Products

Luckily, if you find yourself being overly sensitive to dairy, there are a ton of substitutes on the market that make it easy to enjoy these foods without having to deal with the effects of being lactose intolerant.

Almond Milk

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, giving up dairy doesn’t mean you have to resort to black coffee. Almond milk is a great substitute to traditional creamers and milks. This nut milk has more calcium than regular milk, and there is a wide variety of options when it comes to flavors and added sweeteners. Chain coffee shops such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have caught on as well, stocking almond milk in most stores. If almond milk isn’t for you, soy milk, coconut milk and even oat milk are readily available in most grocery stores nowadays.

Dairy-Free Yogurt

A quick yogurt parfait topped with granola and berries can be a simple and healthy breakfast or snack – except if you’re lactose intolerant. Luckily, there are a wide variety of options available without the side effects of dairy. Dairy-free yogurt is one substitute that is a particularly close match in terms of consistency and flavor.

Dairy-Free Ice Cream

Ice cream is a classic dessert or midnight snack, but for so many people, it can do way more harm than good. The good news is that dairy-free alternatives to ice cream and even frozen yogurt are becoming more and more available, both in ice cream shops and grocery stores alike. Ben and Jerry’s has released a wide variety of pints made from almond milk, with these flavors also available in several of their in-store locations.

If you’re looking for a healthier dairy-free option, Halo Top prides themselves on being a healthier alternative to traditional ice cream. Each pint of Halo Top has less than 400 calories in the entire pint, and oftentimes less than 100 calories per individual serving. There are a wide variety of crowd-pleasing flavors – from chocolate and peanut butter to something on the fruity side. Halo Top can be found in a variety of stores around the State College area such as Wegmans or Target.

While dairy is one of the main food groups, it’s not always a feasible option for everyone. If you find yourself struggling with lactose intolerance, skin concerns or similar health problems, it’s not a bad idea to consider removing it from your diet.

Luckily, if you choose to do so, there are a wide variety of lactose-free options than can be used as substitutes. Before making significant changes to your diet, VALLEY recommends talking to your doctor or a nutritionist.


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