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Is a Dairy-Free Diet Healthy?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

As a child, I always had sensitive skin and would break out easily, so I had to be careful with the foods I consumed. This meant that I ate a limited amount of processed foods and sugary drinks to prevent my skin from breaking out. The other day when I was doing some research on different face masks and cleansers, I came across an article that said dairy-free is one of the best ways to prevent acne and clogged pores. To be quite honest, I was a little surprised because I had always learned how important dairy was for our bones and overall health. The article also mentioned that a dairy-free diet could be beneficial for weight loss. This made me curious—is dairy-free the better and healthier alternative? 

According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, foods that contain dairy are a great source of calcium and may help reduce chances of osteoporosis, a medical condition where the bones become brittle. The study says that trying to create a dairy-free diet that is still packed with calcium, potassium and other proteins is hard to do because milk, cheese, yogurt and even ice cream are all first-rate sources of these key nutrients. I still continued to google and research as my curiosity lingered. So many people had reduced break-outs with a dairy-free diet, and I wanted to know how and if they considered any alternatives to dairy products. To be able to cut out an entire nutrition group from your diet is a big deal, so I wanted to make sure I had all the information first! 

Skincare morning routine
Kevin Laminto

I came across another article published by the Mayo Clinic about boosting your calcium levels without dairy. They said that one of the best ways to obtain calcium-rich foods without consuming dairy was through canned sardines, beans, greens and tofu, just to name a few. My next question was, how did dairy affect our skin, and why was it so bad that people decided to make a switch? I found out that dairy contains proteins that produce a hormone that raises our insulin levels, and this is linked to the increased production of sebum, the oily substance on our skin. The insulin also increases our blood sugar which is why people say that cutting out dairy from your everyday diet could result in weight loss. 

Overall, I believe that dairy is neither a villain nor a hero. It does have it’s advantages and disadvantages, but I think we all have to be cognizant of how much calcium our body needs and eat foods accordingly. If you are lactose intolerant, calcium-deficient or have any medical condition where your body cannot take more insulin, then I think it is worth having a conversation with your doctor about building an effective diet plan where you can consume foods that don’t hurt your body, but also provide you with all the necessary nutrients. Additionally, I believe that from all the information I have found, I would like to try a low dairy diet and see if that works for my skin. 

Rea is a senior majoring in Biological Sciences on the Pre-Medicine track at VCU! Her favorite things include binge watching Netflix, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family! She is an advocate for women's health with hopes of becoming a physician in the future.
Mary McLean (née Moody) is an avid writer and is the former Editor in Chief of Her Campus at VCU. She wrote diligently for Her Campus at VCU for two years and was the Editor in Chief for three years. You can find her work here! She double majored in Political Science and History at Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated in 2022. She loves her son, Peter, and her cat Sully. You can find her looking at memes all night and chugging Monster in the morning with her husband!