Dangers of Dairy

Hey, Dr. Nicole here!

I have a lot of people ask me about why I discourage dairy in the diet. The explanation could make for a very long conversation, so I’m going to narrow it down to three common dangers of dairy: the insulin index, the calcium conundrum, and the risk for cancer.  

Watch this short video for a detailed explanation, and read on below!

milk bottle

Dangers of Dairy, Issue 1: Insulin Index

Although dairy is generally a low glycemic food (meaning it doesn’t tend to spike blood glucose), it is actually a high insulin index food, which means that it will cause an increase in your insulin levels. It’s the dairy proteins that have this effect, not dairy fats, which means that butter won’t cause an insulin response, but milk, cheese, and yogurt will. Generally I’m okay with people consuming grass-fed butter, as long as they’re not sensitive to it, and I do so myself. Grass-fed butter is high in vitamins A, D, E and K and minerals like manganese, chromium, iodine, selenium, zinc, and copper. It’s also high in conjugated linoleic acid, which is a fatty acid that has anti-cancer benefits. 

Now, I adhere to a ketogenic paleo style diet with an aim to keep blood glucose and insulin response low, so I have often wondered why a traditional ketogenic diet is so high in dairy products, given that dairy causes this increased insulin response. And as an FYI, I don’t condone a traditional ketogenic diet because it tends to be loaded with dairy and artificial sweeteners, and the focus is more on the quantity of fat, carbs, and protein than it is on the quality of the food consumed.

Since my goals with my diet are to prevent insulin spikes, I try to avoid all dairy with the exception of grass-fed butter. 

Dangers of Dairy, Issue 2: The Calcium Conundrum

Many people think that they need to consume dairy or they won’t get enough calcium in their diet. But the reality is that many other foods have much better calcium absorption rates than dairy. Let’s look at this problem a bit further:

There’s about 300 mg of calcium in one cup of milk, but because dairy products only have a calcium absorption rate of 32%, only about 90 mg is actually absorbed by the body. Bok choy, on the other hand, has an absorption rate of 54%, so of the 158 mg of calcium that’s in one cup of bok choy, you’re actually absorbing over 85 mg. 

Hopefully that helps you see that dairy as the sole source of calcium is a misnomer. Generally, green leafy vegetables have a decent calcium absorption rate. They are good sources of dietary calcium, and they have the added benefit of numerous other phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Dangers of Dairy, Issue 3: Cancer

In addition to dairy causing an increase in insulin, it also contains hormones that cause changes in estrogen and testosterone in our bodies. Yes, even if hormones aren’t added to the cows, the milk still contains hormones that the cow naturally produces. Consuming foods that are loaded with hormones can disrupt the body's delicate hormone balance. Because many cancers are hormone driven, these disruptions can increase the risk for certain cancers. Dairy consumption has been linked to breast, ovarian, uterine, prostate, and testicular cancers. Since cancer is so prevalent, it's important to make small changes wherever we can to decrease our risk. Avoiding dairy is one change we can make!
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These reasons are only three of many for why I discourage consuming dairy—with the exception of grass-fed butter. I hope you found this dangers of dairy information helpful, and as always, if you have any questions or topics you want to hear about, make sure to leave a comment below so I can do my best to help you live your life feeling revitalized!

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5 thoughts on “Dangers of Dairy”

  1. I have never been a fan of milk, even as a child I was forced to finish my glass of milk. For the 8 yrs. I have enjoyed almond milk instead. I also have goat or sheep cheese. I follow the blood-type diet being type O neg. What are your thoughts on these substitutes.

    Jane Orr

    1. Hi Jane,
      Thank you for your comment! Almond milk is an excellent alternative! Coconut or hemp milks are also other great choices. Goat and sheep cheeses do tend to be easier for humans to digest than cow’s cheese, but they still contain the proteins that cause the increased insulin response so that is something to keep in mind.

  2. Pingback: What Exactly is a Keto-Paleo Diet? - Dr. Nicole Maholy

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