This is not an article that will demonize dairy. But it is an article that will shed some light on why dairy is one of the worst things a person struggling with hormonal issues could consume. In this article, we’re talking all things dairy for hormones: 4 ways dairy is hurting your hormones, calcium alternatives, the best dairy sources, and other resources for hormonal balance.
The Dangers of Dairy
When it comes to dairy, for the sake of this article, we’re mostly talking about cow dairy. Not only because it is the most popular source of dairy but also because of how it is produced. In the US, most cows are injected with genetically modified growth hormone (steroid hormone like bovine somatotropin) to increase milk production. Profit is always the goal in big industries like dairy farming. When you consume any product made with this milk, you also consume artificial hormones. Most cows are also treated with antibiotics (because of their terrible living quarters), which your body absorbs. These antibiotics wreak havoc on the gut, where many hormones live and are produced.
But wait, there’s more! At CAFOs, or conventional animal feeding lots, animals are fed GMO corn or soy. Cows are supposed to graze on grass! So now, you have artificial hormones and antibiotics in your system, genetically modified foods, and pesticides! This is a complete hormone disaster. Pesticides and GMOs are major endocrine disruptors that can throw hormone levels out of whack.
Now, if it can’t already get worse, let’s dig a little bit deeper into the 4 ways dairy is hurting your hormones.
4 Reasons Why Dairy is Bad for Hormone Health
1 – Throws off natural estrogen levels
Not only does dairy contain small amounts of various hormones like estrogen and progesterone, but it also contains artificial hormones as we talked about. Consuming conventional (and sometimes even even organic dairy) can increase the body’s circulating estrogen (and artificial estrogen). In fact, these environmental estrogens may contribute to early puberty in young girls!
Estrogen dominance has been linked to various cancers, including breast cancer, and other hormonal issues like PCOS, infertility, increased PMS symptoms, and more.
2 – Creates Digestive System Inflammation
Whether you’re lactose intolerant or not, to some extent, dairy creates inflammation in the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, dairy is a mucus-forming and building food that contributes to allergies. When there is a lot of phlegm in the body, especially if you tend to be phlegmy, you can experience joint pain and other sensitivities. When it comes to hormones, inflammation in the intestinal tract can hinder fertility thanks to hurting sex hormone levels and stressing out the body.
3 – Hurts Microbiome
We’ve learned that conventional cows are pumped with antibiotics to avoid disease in their horrible living quarters. When we consume their milk, we also consume those antibiotics – sometimes at a greater amounts. Antibiotics kill all bacteria – not just the bad bacteria. That is killing the life and good bugs in your body which are needed for proper digestion, hormone production, mood, and more.
If you experience acne, oftentimes eliminating dairy products can help, and one of the reasons for this is because of dairy’s impact on the microbiome and digestive system inflammation. You can read how I cured my hormonal acne by focusing on gut health here.
4 – Depletes Magnesium Stores
Dairy has been shown to deplete your magnesium stores. When our magnesium levels are off, so are our pituitary gland and adrenal glands. Both of these glands are responsible for producing a ton of hormones in the body: sex, stress, mood, etc.
We talk a lot about the HPA axis, which contains the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. At the root of many hormonal imbalances, like adrenal fatigue, is HPA axis dysregulation. One of the lifestyle changes we always recommend to people struggling with adrenal fatigue, and other hormonal issues, is to avoid dairy, primarily conventional, for at least a month and see what changes.
But What About Calcium?
We’ve long been told (marketed to) about how dairy is good for the bones. But there is recent information that shows that dairy actually leaches calcium out of bones, making us more susceptible to osteoporosis. We still need calcium, but consuming multiple glasses of milk per day won’t help, in fact, too much of it puts us at risk for kidney stones and heart disease.
Other Sources of Calcium:
- Dried figs
- Pearl powder
- Sesame seeds and tahini
- Collard greens
- Bok choy
The Best Source of Dairy
If you absolutely need dairy, go with goat instead of cows milk. As we’ve learned, cow dairy is the worst because the majority of cows are injected with hormones and antibiotics. Opt for pasture-raised goats, and if possible, always raw. We wrote a whole article on conventional dairy that you can check out here for more information.
Thoughts on Organic Milk and Dairy
Organic milk and dairy is definitely a better alternative to conventional dairy milk and dairy products —but can sometimes still cause issues. My suggestion is that if you have a hormonal imbalance, try eliminating all dairy for 1 month.
Thoughts on Dairy and Milk Alternatives
Now, don’t get too excited about oatmilk lattes because most alternative milks and alternative butters, cheese etc. out there are just as bad – if not worse. So many alternative dairy products contain horrible oils, chemicals, and other nasty things that we definitely don’t need circulating in our bodies.
But at the core, nut and seed milks are actually a really nice option – if you make them yourself (or find a really good brand).
You can find a whole guide on store-bought vs homemade nut milk here, but for now, this is our favorite recipe!
DIY NUT MILK RECIPE
- Put one cup of preferred nuts in glass bowl and cover with water, leave overnight or for 48 hours in bowl
- After 1-2 days drain and rinse nuts
- Place nuts in blender with 2 cups of water
- Blend for 2 minutes
- Use this nut milk bag to strain
- If preferred, sweeten to taste with raw honey or stevia
I hope this article has helped you understand how dairy impacts the hormonal imbalance. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.