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Wellness

Why Ditching Dairy Could Lead to Improved Hormonal Health

Dairy; the one food item that almost everyone, except those who are lactose intolerant, consume daily. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, milk will always seem like an appropriate choice for a drink; and, it makes sense because you need the calcium. Not to mention that growing up our parents and guardians have always emphasized the importance of milk and calcium for our growth; be it getting taller or stronger. This is all true to a certain extent, the truth is that as we leave those major growth years of our lives, dairy may cause more damage than improvement.  You might be wondering why and how dairy can be bad for you and the simple, one-word answer to both questions, is hormones. Your hormones are at risk due to the daily consumption of dairy products. Many problems associated with hormones, such as hormonal imbalances, acne, and all the other problems related to hormonally regulated imbalances, are worsened by dairy products. Individuals with pre-existing hormonal issues are more susceptible to the dangers of dairy and may be entirely oblivious to the negative effects of this silent danger. Individuals with no apparent issue with their hormones are also impacted in several ways that they may not even be aware of. 

Let’s tackle this issue by first explaining why dairy messes with our overall hormonal health. The answer lies in the hormones that are found in the milk produced by dairy cows. The obvious negative effects of cows can be explained by farms that use inorganic methods or inject growth hormones into cows. These will severely amplify the types and amounts of hormones present in the milk product that is produced by the cow, which is then ingested by humans only to cause many health-related complications. 

However, many Canadian farmers claim to use only organic methods (which comes with its own set of problems) and to not inject any artificial growth hormones into cows. This might be true, but that doesn’t change anything. Cows are pregnant almost 300 days out of 365 days of the year, and this isn’t something that is normal. Each time they get pregnant, the number of hormones produced in the cow’s milk increases, and this is where most of the problems arise. The milk has high levels of estrogen, which is recognized as the female hormone responsible for maintaining the reproductive health of women (but also present in men), and can cause havoc in the body. The human body has all sorts of regulation protocols and processes that dynamically maintain the appropriate levels of all chemicals and biological molecules, including hormones. The artificial introduction of these high levels of estrogen can cause hormonal imbalances or worsen pre-existing conditions. This can interfere with a women’s monthly cycle, increase the pain associated with it, and could also potentially cause endometriosis. They could also promote certain types of cancers associated with the breast, ovaries or womb. 

Estrogen isn’t the only hormone at fault here, testosterone also plays a role. This is because milk also contains a hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor I, and this hormone promotes the production of testosterone and estrogen. Testosterone and estrogen, being the reproductive hormones, are known to cause mood swings, so women aren’t the only ones being affected. Men may also suffer from uncontrollable mood swings, and the worse thing about this is that you have no idea why it’s happening. 

Let’s talk about acne now, an issue that many people suffer from and don’t always know how to treat, or, even why they have it at all. Those reproductive hormones mentioned before, testosterone and estrogen, are also known to increase the production of sebum. Sebum, being the substance that blocks hair follicles, results in the formation of those unwanted pimples. 

All in all, the next ingredient you cut out may be all forms of dairy. But then a very important question comes into play; what about calcium, don’t I need that? The answer is yes, you do need calcium; however, there are plenty of non-dairy food items rich in calcium. Here are some examples:

  • Chia seeds
  • Soy Milk
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • And the list goes on!

To sum up, ditching dairy and eating any of the non-dairy calcium-rich foods mentioned above could give you the calcium you need to develop strong bones, while also not causing any problems related to your hormonal health. Who knows, you might even notice a visible improvement to your overall health that leaves you feeling healthy and strong!

 

Rimshah Abid

U Ottawa '23

A biomedical sciences student who has a passion for writing, science, and art. Hobbies include soccer, bullet journalling, and painting.
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