Inflammation and Dairy : How it is affecting your Energy

Inflammation and Dairy : How it is affecting your Energy 


Inspired by Mind Body Green(1)

Dairy is a food group that many of us a lot in our diet. However, did you know that American dairy causes harmful inflammation to the body, preventing proper nutrition absorption or fat loss from occurring, and for some people causing energy crashes? These are only a few side effects that affects so much of the American population.


Why are so many people sensitive? Two reasons. Number 1: It’s because of the sugars in milk, better known as lactose! The sugar in general is inflammatory but many people do not have enough of the enzyme lactase to break down lactose into an absorbable form. After the age of 4 our bodies naturally get rid of lactase as it is an age where the majority of kids have stopped breastfeeding for a while.

Number 2: the processing and pasteurization process creates a safer, yet refined (processed) version, that of which the body can not accept well. 


So is dairy something that you should continue to eat on a consistent basis? Or something you should start decreasing? If you struggle with any health issues such as low energy, chronic inflammation or acne I would suggest swapping out some of the dairy options for others.


But wait... what about the calcium intake?


One of the biggest concerns I hear when cutting dairy is: where will the calcium intake come from? First - know that dairy is not absorbed well in many of us. If it was we still would not have such an issue with osteoporosis with the elder population. Second - there are so many foods that naturally contain calcium and other vitamins and minerals that aid in the absorption as well!

Below I have listed the foods with the highest calcium content! They provide the body with amazing energy and very little inflammation. The calcium in these foods are also highly bioavailable – meaning they absorb well in the body:



  • Broccoli
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Dandelion
  • Kale
  • Kelp
  • Kidney Beans
  • Parsley
  • Parsnip
  • Turnips
  • Watercress


  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Raisins


 So, how can we decrease the dairy without missing out? Here are a few suggestions on how you can start swapping dairy for more nutrient dense foods in your diet:



The easiest first step: Changing your milk

  • Use coconut, oat or cashew mylk (creamier ones) in your coffee instead of whole milk
  • Enjoy almond, hemp, oat milk in your cereal instead of skim milk.
  • Use coconut or almond yogurt with your granola instead of regular or Greek yogurt.
  • Make soups with coconut milk instead of cream.


Swapping a plant-based spread for a dairy-based spread is easier than you might think.

Try these:

  • Use almond, peanut, or cashew butter on your toast or bagel instead of butter or cream cheese.
  • Spread hummus all over your wrap or sandwich instead of cheese.

Slice avocado onto your burger instead of cheese. 


You don’t need dairy to top off your meal. Try these dairy-free yet creamy-full swaps instead:

  • Squish guacamole into your burrito, fajitas or tacos instead of queso and sour cream.
  • Enhance your baked sweet potato with avocado, coconut oil, or tahini instead of butter or sour cream.
  • Thicken sauces and soups with cashews instead of cream.
  • Pile tons of veggies onto your pizza or pasta instead of cheese. (Not creamy, but still filling and delicious.)



Yes, you can still treat your sweet tooth without dairy. It’s actually really easy:

  • Make ice cream out of bananas and/or coconut milk instead of cream.
  • Bake with coconut oil instead of butter. (And coat your baking tins with it, too.)
  • Blend a hemp or rice-based protein powder into your smoothies instead of whey.
  • Use almond milk in your pancakes, muffins or cakes instead of dairy milk.



This doesn’t have to be a bummer without dairy. Here are some simple dairy-free snacks:

  • Carrots and cucumbers with hummus instead of ranch dip.
  • Air popped popcorn instead of popcorn drizzled in butter.
  • Mid Day Square instead of a candy bar.
  • Granola bar instead of dairy-ridden cereal bar.


Eating Out

When eating out, be careful of these sneaky places where dairy often hides:

  • In creamy soups like chowders or bisques (or even in some tomato soups!)
  • In oatmeal, which is often made in restaurants with milk, not water.
  • In thick dressings like ranch and thousand island.
  • Omelets, sautéed veggies or anything else in a pan is sometimes cooked in butter.
  • Smoothies from popular chains often include yogurt or whey powder.
  • Sherbet, unlike sorbet, is made with milk or cream.


Mental Tricks

And finally, a lot of success with phasing out dairy begins in your head. Try these:

  • When you crave cheese, remember WHY you’re cutting out the dairy: to feel better, to look better, or to live better than you do right now.
  • Remind yourself that living that better way will bring you more pleasure than that bite or two of dairy.
  • Start simple — pick one of the above swaps and keep with it for a week or two. When that feels easy, add another. Then another. Keep going until you’re feeling and seeing the difference!
  • Don’t beat yourself up. If you mistakenly order oatmeal and realize midway though that it’s made with dairy, it's not a fail and all over. Instead, be excited you found out, don’t finish the bowl, eat some fruit or nuts and remember to ask next time whether or not the oatmeal is made with dairy.

So there you have it! All about dairy and inflammation: how it's affecting your energy. Can you cut back on the dairy and see a difference? 


Connect with me, Kelly Carter CNP Nutritionist for a free consultation! Email me at [email protected] to book a session.




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