Weekly wellness: The truth about dairy: Is it healthy?

In this June 8, 2018 image taken from video, cows are milked at a dairy farm at the University of California, Davis, in Davis, Calif., where researchers are feeding seaweed to dairy cows in a bid to make cattle more climate-friendly. UC Davis is studying whether adding small amounts of seaweed to cattle feed can help reduce their emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that's released when cattle burp, pass gas or make manure. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

Nowadays, we hear good and bad things about pretty much every type of food. Some people say certain things are good for you, while others swear they’re horrible.

Dairy is one of those foods. We all grew up hearing that milk is good for our bones and provides us with the calcium we need to grow. However, in more recent years, more and more people have been swearing off dairy, insisting that it’s unhealthy.

Let’s break this argument down into some pros and cons:

Pros- As we all know, milk is high in calcium and vitamin D, which are both essential to our diets. It also contains whey and casein. These are two proteins that provide us with amino acids and can improve digestion. Whey is in many protein powders because it’s great for muscle growth and helping to ease soreness from working out.

Cons- Lactose is a make-up of two different sugars. Enzymes in our bodies break down these sugars so that we can properly digest them. However, studies have shown that 12 percent of people in the United States have trouble breaking down lactose, which makes them lactose intolerant. It’s an incredibly common thing to be intolerant of dairy, and some even say that it’s unnatural to consume milk from different species. Yes, there are pills you can take if dairy bothers you, but they do not work as well for everyone.

Casein and whey are also cons. Just like lactose, many people are intolerant to casein. This food allergy is said to be most common in young children, but a lot of researchers disagree. A casein allergy isn’t always something that’s outgrown. It can be just as effective as dairy at bothering people’s systems.

The overall consensus is that consuming dairy is definitely an individual decision. It can negatively affect some while not bothering others at all. It’s something you need to experience for yourself.

Luckily for those who are intolerant of dairy, there are plenty of alternatives. Almond milk has risen in popularity in recent years because many people have felt better after switching to almond milk from regular milk. It even comes in different flavors, such as vanilla and chocolate.

Many restaurants and grocery stores are also making dairy-free cheese more available. This may sound nauseating, but it doesn’t taste that different from real cheese. Since cheese is one of the hardest things to avoid when you have a lactose allergy, this new trend may prove helpful.

Dairy-free ice cream is extremely popular as well, and you can find it almost anywhere. It can be made from cashew milk, almond milk or soy milk and taste just like real ice cream. This is definitely a great alternative if you’re craving something sweet or if you just want some comfort food.

Lactose allergies can introduce themselves and disappear at different times throughout one’s life. So, if you’ve never had any problems with it before but are experiencing an intolerance now, that’s totally normal. It’s also possible to build up a tolerance to it, usually by cutting dairy from your diet and then slowly reintroducing it.


Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at tessa.pawlik@uconn.edu.