Life Without Dairy

Many people come to me worried that they have to give up milk because of an intolerance to cow-dairy. But, where will I get my calcium from? My answer is: Don’t worry! There are many ways to ensure you will get enough calcium both from eating non-dairy sources of calcium and taking care to ensure that you hold on to the calcium your body already has.

Calcium myths:

Everyone needs to drink (cow’s) milk

Not true. The most common allergy is to milk and cow-dairy products. You can be intolerant to either the lactose (sugar) or any of the 25 different proteins in milk which is why lactose-free milk is not always the answer. Most of us actually develop lactose intolerance in early adolescence but don’t realize it and keep drinking milk even though we experience gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and any other number of symptoms. If you are intolerant to cow-dairy, your body is unable to digest the dairy and absorb the calcium. As well, you can lose calcium from your body because the undigested lactase will ferment in your intestines and create lactic acid. Calcium is then leached from your bones to counteract the acidity.

Dairy products will make my bones strong and help prevent osteoporosis

Low fat milk makes it more difficult to absorb the calcium that’s left because fat is necessary to transport and absorb calcium.
Cow-dairy tends to be highly acidic. When our bodies have too much acid and not enough alkalinity in the blood, the blood then leaches calcium from the bones to help off-set the acidity. Thus leading to brittle bones.

Did you know:

1 cup of milk= 315mg of calcium


1 cup of calcium fortified orange juice has just as much, as does 1 cup of rice milk

Other Calcium sources include:
almonds, sesame seeds, canned salmon, tofu, soybeans, baked beans, blackstrap molasses, nut butters, seaweed, and dark leafy greens.

In addition to getting enough dairy from your diet, here are some ways you can help your body to hold on to the calcium it’s got:

  • Reduce intake of coffee, tea, soda, salt, and chocolate (caffeine intake causes calcium loss via urine)
  • Reduce or avoid refined sugar (reduces absorption rate of calcium in the intestines)
  • Reduce phosphorus intake:  Meats, grains and sodas are very high in phosphorus which binds with calcium. If too much phosphorus is in your blood it will pull calcium from your bones.
  • Consume calcium with vitamin D (eggs, liver, mushrooms, the sun!)

There are other good options to cow’s dairy such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut yogurt, coconut ice cream, rice milk, etc.
Some people may even be able to tolerate goats milk as the proteins are easier to digest.

You have lots of options!


About Hannah Pidgeon, RHN

Graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2011. Consulting in Charlottetown, PEI. Mama to a beautiful baby girl.
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