Dairy and your skin health

Thank you to everyone who got in touch following my dairy-free blog post last month.

So many of you had amazing results after giving it up, while an equally large number saw no change at all – which just goes to show how different we all are!

It seems to have raised more questions than it answered so here’s a quick follow-up post with a bit more info to help you on your way.

Dairy vs. Lactose

Dairy is a wide food group covering the likes of milk, yoghurt and cheese. For most of you it seemed that straight milk, as a drink or on cereal, was the worst culprit when it came to skin flares.

Many found their eczema worsened or they had a terrible breakout in the days after eating it; yet had no problem eating cheese or even yoghurt.

The active sugar protein in milk which many people struggle with is lactose.

Those who are sensitive or intolerant to lactose are often deficient in lactase – an enzyme that breaks lactose down into easily digestible sugars.

Side effects of lactose intolerance can include cramps, digestive discomfort, bloating, gut inflammation and nausea – as well as skin inflammation.

So, why is yoghurt OK for some?

The people who can enjoy cheese and yoghurt without any side effects are more likely to be reacting to lactose rather than dairy in general.

Yoghurt is easy to digest due to its culturing process, and the good bacteria it contains can often benefit those with digestive issues.

Choosing a natural, good quality yoghurt is important though – Greek yoghurt is a good option as it contains very little lactose.

Aged, hard cheeses are also usually fine for those with lactose intolerance. As a general rule, the harder a cheese is, the less lactose it contains – as lactose is found in the watery part of milk. Hard, sharp cheeses like Parmesan, Pecorino and aged cheddar generally contain no lactose.

What to avoid

If you think you might be lactose intolerant you should avoid milk, ice cream and cream.

But no need to feel glum, there are some great non-dairy and lactose-free alternatives out there, so you can still enjoy the odd creamy treat!

Has anyone tested the theory and seen a skin improvement from cutting out lactose specifically rather than dairy in general?

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