These days, it seems like everyone is hopping on the dairy-free bandwagon. Just take a stroll through your grocery’s refrigerated aisle, and you’ll see every type of milk alternative imaginable. My personal dairy-free journey actually began as a sophomore in college after many years of struggling with dairy-related issues.
Throughout high school, I dealt with frequent brain fog and vertigo. Waves of intense dizziness would come over me that were so strong I’d have to sit down, head between my knees, and wait out the spinning sensation. If you’ve never experienced vertigo, imagine hopping on the spinning tea cup ride at Disney World mixed with a nice dose of sea sickness. Not fun. And outside of the vertigo spells, my mind felt muddled and slow.
I talked with multiple doctors, including an ENT who thought I might have an inner-ear issue caused by chronic allergies. But the prescription allergy medication I was given didn’t seem to help alleviate any of my symptoms.
At this time, dairy-alternatives were first beginning to hit the market. I stumbled upon several articles that promoted a dairy-free diet to reduce everything from acne to digestive issues and increase mental clarity.
I personally took inventory of the quantity of dairy I consumed and was shocked. I religiously started my day with yogurt, added a splash of milk or creamer to my coffee, loved any and all cheeses, ate a whey-based protein bar as a daily afternoon snack and was a sucker for frozen yogurt or ice cream in the evenings.
Cutting dairy meant I’d have to make a major lifestyle shift. But once I did and began introducing new alternatives into my daily diet, the benefits were truly incredible. My brain fog and vertigo completely subsided, and I saw a major improvement in my skin as well. I truly feel as if my situation is a testament to how helpful a dairy-free diet can be for those who suffer with similar issues.
Then last spring, I read Dr. Mark Hyman’s book, What the Heck Should I Eat (the most informative guide for every health and food-related question). Hyman discusses Americans’ increased dairy consumption over time and the correlation to a decline in overall health that I’d never realized before. He also illuminates the link between dairy and inflammation in our bodies, which was very likely my personal issue. Check out this great article for an overview of his view on the “dairy dilemma.”
While many people can eat dairy all day without issue, my reality is a bit different. I’ve experienced incredible benefits from ditching dairy and incorporating dairy-free products into my diet. Much thanks to the many nut-based and lactose-free alternatives available these days, I genuinely don’t miss my dairy days in the slightest.
If you struggle with issues similar to mine, I highly recommend giving the dairy-free life a shot for a couple of weeks to see if your situation improves. When choosing dairy-free products, just make sure to check the ingredients and stick with items free of fillers, additives and fake junk. These might cause digestive and other issues of their own. Take a look below for a few of my current favorites!
- Coconut Cult Probiotic Coconut Yogurt
- Forager Organic Cashewgurt
- Forager Organic Cashewmilk
- Malk Pure Cashew Milk
- Malk Pure Almond Milk
- Three Trees Organic Almond Milk
- No Cow Bars
- Fourth & Heart Ghee (clarified butter with milk solids removed)
- Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast
- Kite Hill Cream Cheese Spread
- Siete Foods Cashew Queso