Inflammation – it’s a diet freak that we’re all probably trying to avoid. And since you’re here, you might be wondering if your favorite dairy products are adding to the inflammatory load.
Here are the facts on the link between dairy and inflammation, along with tips on how to fight inflammation in general.
Highlights of the article
- Current research shows that dairy products do not promote inflammation in the body.
- Some research has indicated that dairy products are in fact anti-inflammatory.
- Following an anti-inflammatory diet can promote health and reduce the risk of disease.
Milk has been the biggest scapegoat for inflammation over the years, in part because of its effects on acne.
There may really be a connection between drinking milk of all fat levels and popping, according to one. Meta-analysis 2019. And since acne is an inflammatory disease, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that milk is an inflammation-stimulating beast.
Experts to have found that drinking this product may be an underlying cause of acne (but I’m not sure exactly why).
The association of milk with digestive issues has also stoked fires in the dairy causes inflammation camp. If you (or your sister or your best friend) have a constant stomach ache after a milkshake, you might come to think of dairy as bad pro-inflammatory news.
Although many people experience digestive discomfort from a full glass of milk, that doesn’t mean it creates inflammation.
We will beat the drum again: Multiple clinical tests and systematic reviews have found no association between milk consumption and increased markers of inflammation.
Go for grass-fed dairy products
When budget allows, you may want to splurge on grass-fed, low-fat dairy products.
“Grass-fed cows produce milk richer in beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA),” says Ali Webster, PhD, RD, director of nutritional research and communications for the International Food Information Council.
However, Webster notes that the amount of these nutrients in grass-fed dairy products is less than the amount proven to be healthy.
“Basically, milk from grass-fed cows may provide a little more of some beneficial nutrients, but it is not known if these amounts have a significant impact on our health.”
Although milk and cheese come from the same source, the two dairy products are not nutritional twins. While studies consistently show that milk does not promote inflammation, more research is needed to unravel the question of the inflammatory potential of cheese.
Then again, other research shows that – due to its different fat content – the anti-inflammatory activity of conjugated linoleic acid in your favorite Gouda or Swiss could have such powerful effects as preventing clogged arteries and increasing loss weight.
We are totally pro-pizza (and fondue… and grilled cheese…) but moderation is the key to eating cheese. Even though the Diet Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends taking three servings of dairy products per day, remember that one serving of cheese is only 1 ounce.
Congratulations, yogurt! You win the prize for most anti-inflammatory dairy products.
According to a review of 52 studies, fermented foods like yogurt and kefir have shown the highest anti-inflammatory activity of all dairy products. This is likely due to their high content of probiotics like lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria, which help create a thriving gut microbiome.
Yogurt may be particularly beneficial for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A study found that when people with IBD consumed probiotic-rich yogurt once a day, they had significantly lower markers of inflammation after 8 weeks.
Believe it or not, inflammation isn’t * all * bad. It is actually the body’s natural process to heal itself from damage. The swelling and redness that you see around a cut or sore, for example, are good signs that your body is taking action to heal. This is known as acute inflammation.
Symptoms of acute inflammation:
- a feeling of heat
- temporary loss of function
On the other hand, when the inflammation gets out of hand, it can set you up for health issues. While you can’t see chronic, long-term inflammation inside your body, it can underlie many illnesses (although it’s not always clear whether this is a symptom. or a cause of illness).
Symptoms of chronic inflammation:
- aches and pains
- weight gain or weight loss
- frequent infections
- digestive problems
- skin rashes or sores
There are several steps you can take to tame inflammation through diet and lifestyle choices.
PSA: Before embarking on an anti-inflammatory diet, it is important to consult a dietitian or doctor.
These diets may require you to fill up on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. (The Mediterranean and Nordic diets are great places to start.)
That said, in the words of Eleanor Shellstrop of “The Good Place”, “no one is nerfect”. It’s okay to stray from an anti-inflammatory diet here and there; the occasional indulgences won’t completely derail your health goals. (Because, hey, sometimes you literally need A small cake.)
Remember that lifestyle (not just food!) Also affects inflammation. Proven ways to minimize your inflammatory load include exercising regularly, get enough sleep, not smoke and manage stress levels.
Foods that cause inflammation
- fried food
- Sugary drinks
- White bread
- pastries made from refined flour
- Processed meats
- Red meat
Dairy products can provide several important nutrients, but you don’t actually do them to have eat anything from a cow or a goat to be healthy.
Still, changing your outlook on dairy might require a bit of deprogramming. The dairy industry has been extremely effective in convincing us that not only does milk “feel good”, but we should all drink it. a lot.
But this is not really true. With a little strategic planning, it is quite possible to find similar nutrients from other sources.
“Protein and healthy fats can be found in a variety of different foods, including meat, fish, eggs, soy foods, legumes, and whole grains,” says Webster.
“Calcium is found in leafy greens, soy foods, beans, peas and lentils. Vitamins B12 and D are found in other foods of animal origin, such as meat and fish, as well as in some fortified foods. “
Whether you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or just not a fan of milk, there’s no reason you can’t put dairy off the menu and get all the nutrients you need for a healthy life.