THE DAIRY DEBATE
These days, I have never seen so many people drinking almond, rice and soya milks. As part of the generation of young adults that are health obsessed, body conscious, aware of and questioning foods and constantly asking questions about nutrition, one of mine is 'should I be completely cutting out dairy?'
And also, why should we care about this anyway? How is it affecting us? My main reason for cutting out supermarket cows milk was due to the effect it has on my skin - hormonal breakouts specifically. So I have broken the facts* down in to the things we actually care about!
Now I have come to prefer the taste of almond milks and oat milks naturally so the only problem I have with this debate is that I am a huge fan of CHEESE. I am no scientist or nutritional expert - so it is very difficult to gather accurate information on this subject. Therefore I have spent time looking in to this as much as I possibly can and found the following.
THE SCIENCE - HORMONES
In western diets we drink a lot of milk, therefore the demand for these large quantities mean that cows are frequently administered 'growth hormone' increasing the presence of hormone IFG-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1). IFG-1 contributes to the reproduction and stimulation of growth in cells. Naturally, all milk contains IFG-1 from breast milk to animal milk - hence why we drink it as infants, it helps us grow. However some non-milk drinkers find it completely abnormal that humans are the only mammals that continue to drink milk once weaned, and what's more, we consume the lactating milk of another animal.
After a visit to the spa last year, I was mid-amazing Elemis facial when I asked the beautician if she could advise me on how better to control my breakouts. She advised that due to their appearance around my mouth and chin this is usually hormonal, and there wouldn't be a great deal I could do. But now when I think back at how people say your breakouts can be 'hormonal' it makes sense that the presence of IFG-1 in dairy causing cells to multiply, produce sebum and possibly congest might not be helping my skin troubles.
In large studies by the Harvard Public School of Health, the consumption of cows milk has been shown to be strongly associated with acne. Personally I have noticed clearer skin since switching to almond milk, so I definitely won't be going back!
BUILDING MUSCLE AND DRINKING WHEY PROTEIN
Now 'bodybuilders acne' is often blamed on a mixture of short term increases in testosterone and IFG-1 (those bloody hormones again!) plus I imagine that build up of sweat clogs your pores quite swiftly too. However I'm surely not the first person to realise that gym-goers are then consuming whey protein which is adding more dairy and more IFG-1 in to their system? It's just ASKING for acne. A few months back I converted to drinking brown rice proteins and plant proteins to ensure i'm getting the extra nutrients I need without the nasties and hormones.
Due to IFG-1 increasing the rate of cell growth and preventing cell death, it is often linked to the development of many cancers. Although this has not been proven, scientists, doctors and nutritionists have written books, released research reports and tested many cancer sufferers before and after consumption of dairy. One survey from 2008 showed that incidences of breast cancer in women in China were 21.6 in every 100,000 as opposed to France which were 99.7 in every 100,000. In China, intake of calcium often comes from foods such as sesame seeds and seaweed whereas in France a heavy love for butter and cream could be the reason for this result. Although this information is now old and there is no factual evidence of a link between dairy and cancer - it cannot be ignored completely.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a qualified health care professional. I try to use the most credible sources possible however due to the complexity of medical research and science my information may contain errors - if you are qualified in this subject please feel free to contact me with more accurate information!
Information from laura-bond.com, acneeinstein.com and thepaleodiet.com