As I mentioned in my previous post, there are 2 main reasons why I’ve started eliminating the dairy in my diet.
Reason one is because the use of hormones & antibiotics bothers me.
Reason two is so much bigger than that to me: Dairy can be associated with pain & disease.
Soon after I learned about the additives in milk, this issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed up in my mailbox.
Let me explain why this made me jump for joy like a kid who got a pony for Christmas: I LOVE when diet is used to treat disease or illness instead of drugs. And I may not have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but I might have something similar.
[For new readers, you can read more about my story here & here, but basically the gist is I have had chronic pain in my hands & feet for almost a year and a half now. Quite debilitating actually, until one of my doctors found a medication that helps. I hate taking drugs but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. My doctors still haven’t figured out what’s causing the pain, but their best guesses put it in a category of autoimmune & connective tissue disease, which includes things like rheumatoid arthritis & lupus. (Seeing why the boring journal got me excited now?!)]
I almost always toss these journals in a “read later” bin that never gets read, but this one I immediately opened to page 727. The article compared studies looking at vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean, and elimination diets and their effects on RA. Unfortunately the results were pretty inconclusive, but one of the main reasons was because the subjects had trouble following their diets. It still gives me hope that diet can be part of the answer.
The reason I’m looking specifically at dairy however, is because of The China Study. (Super interesting read if you’re a health nerd like me ;)) The China Study looks at a huge number of studies about the affects of animal protein on health. The part that made me catch my breath was the chapter on autoimmune disease. In all autoimmune diseases, the problem is that the body has an immune response to itself- it destroys it’s own cells along with invaders.
Essentially the function of our immune system is to attack foreign invaders, such as viruses or bacteria. These foreign invaders are protein molecules we call antigens. Some antigens trick the body into destroying it’s own cells, such as in autoimmune disease. The author of The China Study proposes that some of these antigens may come from what we eat. Cow’s milk has many proteins that our similar to our own, which can confuse the body’s immune cells. Some of the autoimmune diseases that have been associated with milk are type 1 diabetes & multiple sclerosis.
I take nothing at face value– learning this information just probes me to research more & more. Along the way I’ve found many accounts of people who stopped eating dairy and had their pain disappear.
So now you ask, am I really buying all this? I’m not sure.
I’m very skeptical by nature. (I can raise doubts and arguments for almost anything.)
But the idea that it might make the pain stop? You bet I’m willing to give it a try.
Everybody’s different- they’re made differently, respond to things differently, and go about things differently. For me it’s completely worth it to give something a try and see what I think about it. No amount of research or theories can prove something as well as actually trying it, so that’s what I’m doing.
If it doesn’t work, no harm done.
If it does work? I’m not even going to get my hopes up by imagining all the doors that would open…