What happens to your body if you quit dairy?

Whether you are lactose intolerant or not, giving up dairy products can bring many changes to your body.

Lately, a lot of people are giving up milk (or milk-derived products) due to the many health concerns surrounding it. This translated into a $1.1 billion decrease in dairy sales in 2018. With the rise of veganism and plant-based diets, and the growing options of plant-based kinds of milk, a lot of people (vegetarians, vegans, or carnivores alike) are leaving behind the "Got Milk?" strategy that was so popular in the 90s to explore other markets.


But, what happens when you give up dairy products?

One of the top reasons people give up dairy is because their bodies reject it, says Lillian Daniels, a wellness coach and founder of The Happy Knee. “This is in the form of extreme stomach cramps, abdominal discomfort, and inflammation, which is a huge contributor to joint and knee pain,” Daniels says.

The main problem is that bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation may have been a constant part of your adult life, so you may not even be aware that you have a sensitivity to dairy. According to Donna Savage, the president and founder of Empower Fitness, “most adults have a hard time digesting dairy products, but because we always consumed them, we assume that our stomachs and bodies are supposed to feel that way, so it goes unnoticed.”

After one day of not consuming dairy products, you might start feeling changes if you have a huge intolerance. If you don't, it might take a little longer before your body fully eliminates it from your system. After once week, you will definitely feel less bloated and your skin will look clearer. Depending on your level of sensitivity, you might also start to feel more alert, since it is known that dairy can make you feel sluggish.

After one month, you can really feel the difference in your body and mind. “When your body no longer has to work to eliminate foreign substances that it cannot digest, everything just works better,” says Savage. “Your digestion, metabolism, sleep improves, and mood improve.”

After six months, your body is completely dairy-free. “When you give up dairy, you’re really clearing up a lot of traffic to your body functioning and healing at its best,” says Daniels. “You experience a lower level of internal inflammation, and it allows your body to operate better by absorbing essential nutrients from foods that contribute to great circulation and body function.”

While giving up dairy can be easy to some and difficult to others, experts recommend giving up as much as you can. The 80/20 approach might be the best way to find a balance for those who can't say no to a Friday Night Pizza. With this approach, 80 percent of your meals will be dairy-free, and the remaining 20 percent will be as dairy-reduced as possible. Knowing you can take it easy and that you don't have to cut it cold-turkey, would you give it up?

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