Is Dairy Making You Sick? Exploring the Potential Health Risks

Is Dairy Making You Sick? Exploring the Potential Health Risks

Got the queso cravings??

With so much conflicting information about dairy, deciding whether dairy is good or bad for you can be tricky. Everyone seems to have a different opinion, from doctors to commercials to noise on the internet. 

While it's undoubtedly true that dairy is a source of protein and calcium, studies have shed light on the potential health risks associated with dairy consumption.

Milk and other dairy products are among the highest sources of saturated fat in the American diet, contributing to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and the development of Alzheimer's. Cheese is a big offender, with the average cheese containing around 70 percent fat. Dairy consumption has also been associated with an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.

While dairy does offer protein and calcium, plenty of plant-based foods, like beans, nuts, and greens, also provide them without the potential adverse effects. 

Below, we share how dairy consumption can make you sick and why you may want to switch to plant-based alternatives. Which, BTW, we totally root for around here!

Sure, there will always be conflicting studies and opinions, but if you could make a change that would only impact you positively, why not? You'll also have a direct positive impact on the environment and animal welfare ;-)

READ MORE: Improve your health and increase life expectancy with a plant-based diet


Chronic Diseases

Milk and other dairy products are the top sources of saturated fat in the American diet. High consumption of saturated fat has been linked to various chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease. 

Saturated fats raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, often called "bad" cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Saturated fats interfere with insulin signaling pathways, reducing insulin sensitivity in cells. This impairment in insulin sensitivity contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes, where cells cannot effectively utilize glucose for energy.

Research suggests that diets high in saturated fats may negatively impact brain health and increase the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. Saturated fats can promote inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, leading to neuronal damage and impaired cognitive function.

Switching to low-fat or skim milk can minimize some risk of developing these chronic diseases due to being lower in saturated fats and cholesterol.

Bone Health

Contrary to popular belief, research shows that dairy products have little to no benefit for bone health. According to an analysis published in the British Medical Journal, studies fail to establish a significant link between dairy intake and fracture prevention.

Surprisingly, another study of more than 96,000 people even suggests a negative correlation between higher dairy consumption in adolescence and increased bone fractures in adulthood.

Plant-based sources like leafy greens, beans, tofu, and fortified plant-based milk offer alternative options for obtaining calcium.


High-fat content and hormones in dairy products have been implicated in various cancers, including breast and prostate cancer.

Studies indicate that women consuming high-fat dairy products have a significantly higher risk (53% higher) of breast cancer recurrence and mortality. As opposed to a study that found those who consume low-fat diets have a 23% lower risk for breast cancer recurrence.

Research financed by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Cancer Research Fund discovered that women who consumed 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cow's milk per day had a 30% higher risk of developing breast cancer. A single cup per day elevated the risk by 50%, whereas 2-3 cups increased the risk by 80%. 

Similarly, men who consume high amounts of dairy products are at an increased risk of prostate cancer and had a 141% higher risk for death, according to a meta-analysis that looked at 32 studies.

Increases Mortality

Regular consumption of dairy has been associated with higher overall mortality rates, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

They followed over 140,000 participants and found that those consuming the most milk and the fewest servings of fruits or vegetables had higher mortality rates, particularly among women.

The oxidative stress from milk components is believed to contribute to this elevated risk. At the same time, antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables reduce oxidation and mitigate the risk. 


Milk is more complex than you may realize. It contains chemicals that behave similarly to opium and morphine, actively affecting the central nervous system. Say what now??

Casein is the most prevalent protein (80%) in cow's milk. When people digest casein, they produce casomorphins, which are opioid peptides. Our bodies have opioid receptors, which bind to casomorphins and have opioid-like effects on the neurological and gastrointestinal systems.

According to a 2021 review, casomorphins in dairy are associated with type 1 diabetes, cardiac disease, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), impaired cognitive function, gastrointestinal disorders, and autoimmune diseases. 

Lactose intolerance

Around 68 percent of the world's population is unable to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. Many people develop lactose malabsorption, or an inability to digest lactose, after infancy.

Lactose intolerance can result from lactose malabsorption, which causes symptoms such as bloating, flactuance, discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms might be moderate or severe, depending on how much dairy one consumes. 

So cutting out dairy can save you from some embarrassing moments ;-)

Of course, you can always try lactose-free dairy products to help with lactose intolerance. Lactose-free milk is made by adding lactase to regular milk, breaking down lactose into simple sugars that are easier to digest, and is slightly sweeter in taste.


Milk is exposed to various contaminants during the collecting and processing stages, including pesticide residues, metals, mycotoxins, and hormones.

Some contaminants are introduced into the cow by feeding or medicine administration, while others may be introduced via milking equipment or contaminated pipes. Feed and forage may also include natural poisons.

Cows frequently suffer from mastitis, which is treated with antibiotics, and studies indicate that consuming contaminated milk with antibiotic residues is a growing public health concern worldwide. Adverse effects on humans may include kidney damage, hormonal imbalance, hypersensitivity, and bacterial resistance.

It is estimated that 18 of the 43 antibiotics detected in cow's milk are not regulated by Codex or EU guidelines.


According to a 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis, dairy products may cause acne. Milk, yogurt, and cheese consumption was linked to an elevated risk of acne among 78,529 people aged seven to thirty years old. 

Another study also indicated that dairy and milk consumption was connected with acne. 

While there is still some debate about the direct correlation between dairy foods and these skin conditions, some experts believe that the hormones and IGF-1 found in dairy contribute to acne issues and could lead to the sebaceous glands in the skin excreting more oils. 


We know giving up dairy is not easy, especially your beloved qeuso!

Aside from eliminating the obvious foods, traces of dairy can be found in many food products we eat daily, from cookies to soup. And let's be honest, some alternatives taste really bad...

If you want to reduce or eliminate dairy from your diet, alternatives such as almond, soy, oat, and rice milk offer nutritious options.

You can also make some delicious cheese sauces with nutritional yeast and cashews. Or simply use something like our delicious instant vegan cheez sauce!

These plant-based dairy alternatives are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. They are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D, which are great for maintaining bone health and meeting your daily calcium needs.

Several plant-based foods are also excellent sources of calcium and protein, making them suitable alternatives if you want to maintain strong and healthy bones.

plant-based foods rich in calcium:

Leafy Greens

Spinach, collards, and kale are versatile leafy greens packed with calcium. One cup of cooked spinach provides approximately 245 mg of calcium, and cooked collard greens provide about 266 mg of calcium, meeting a significant portion of your daily requirement.

Beans and Legumes

A half-cup serving of tofu can provide around 350 mg of calcium and 10 g protein, making it an excellent plant-based source of this essential mineral. White beans and chickpeas are also high in protein and calcium, offering 164 mg and 80 mg of calcium per 1 cup.

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds and sesame seeds are nutrient-dense and rich in calcium. One ounce of almonds (about 23 nuts) contains approximately 76 mg of calcium, and one tablespoon of sesame seeds contains around 88 mg of calcium, making them a flavorful addition to salads, stir-fries, and baked goods.

Incorporating these plant-based foods into your diet can help you meet your daily calcium needs without relying on dairy products.

Pairing calcium-rich foods with vitamin D-rich foods or getting adequate sunlight exposure can further enhance calcium absorption and promote overall bone health.