What Dairy Does to Periods

cow's dairy and periodsMore than twenty years ago I discovered something: When I stopped having dairy, I stopped having period pain. Since then, I’ve worked with thousands of patients who have discovered the same thing. Stopping dairy can dramatically improve period pain, heavy periods, endometriosis, acne, and PMS.

Stopping dairy can improve period problems, but not always. It depends on the person, and it depends on the type of dairy.

What’s the problem with dairy?

It’s not the fat
When it comes to ovulation and period health, fat is the best part of dairy.  Full-fat dairy supports healthy ovulation and fertility.

It’s not the lactose
Lactose is the sugar in dairy, and it can be tricky to digest if you don’t make enough lactase (lactose-digesting enzyme). Lactose intolerance causes diarrhea and digestive bloating, but it does not cause period problems. Switching to lactose-free products could help your digestion, but it won’t help your period pain.

It might be the hormones
Milk naturally contains small amounts of over sixty different hormones including testosterone, progesterone, insulin, and a potent growth hormone called IGF-1. As to how much we’re affected by these tiny doses of external hormones is still open to debate. Some experts have linked dairy hormones to acne.

It’s probably the inflammatory A1 casein
The biggest problem with cow’s dairy is a protein called A1 casein which can form the inflammatory opiate casomorphin or BCM7.

BCM7 then stimulates inflammatory cytokines and mast cells, which affects periods because the uterine lining is full of mast cells. Uterine mast cells release histamine and they release heparin which causes heavy periods.

👉 Tip: Mast cells and histamine also play a role in PMS and PMDD.

Mast cells, histamine, and inflammation can profoundly disturb periods. And that’s why dairy can cause period problems.

Not every person
Some people don’t have the digestive enzyme that cleaves A1 casein to form BCM7. That means some people can tolerate cow’s dairy. Read: The inflammation from A1 milk Is mind-boggling.

Not every type of dairy
There’s A1 casein in the milk of Holstein (Friesian) cows, which are the dairy cows in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. There’s no A1 casein in the milk of Jersey cows, goats, and sheep. Instead, there’s only A2 casein, which does not seem to be a problem for periods or hormones.

👉 Tip: Feel better on a vegan diet? It could be because you’re avoiding dairy and you may, in fact, be able to eat other animal products. Read Calling all vegans. Tell me about your periods.

How do you know if you have a problem with dairy?

If you suffered recurrent tonsillitis or chest infections as a kid, then you have a problem with A1 casein. You’ve outgrown those immune problems, but now the same dairy sensitivity is affecting your periods.

Consider avoiding dairy if you suffer from one or more of following period problems:

Dairy can cause period pain, heavy periods, acne, and PMS

Do you need dairy for calcium?

It’s a simple idea:

Dairy contains calcium, therefore dairy is good for bones.

It doesn’t work like that. Milk-drinkers actually do not have better bones than non-milk drinkers. In fact, milk-drinkers may actually have worse bones.

Humans need calcium but we don’t need milk. A recent Harvard study concluded that “humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk.”

Other sources of calcium including green vegetables, almonds, salmon with bones, and goat and sheep dairy.

Dairy alternatives

You can probably have goat or sheep milk products (because they’re A2 dairy). You could try also alternatives such as almond milk or coconut milk.

The bottom line about dairy and periods

For myself, and for many of my patients, I have found A1 dairy to be a real problem. That said, I personally do eat full-fat A2 dairy (goat or sheep), and I advise many of my patients to do the same.

Also, dairy has benefits. It’s a satisfying food, and it provides valuable nutrients such as protein and vitamin K2.

113 thoughts on “What Dairy Does to Periods”

  1. I have the complete opposite experience- I stopped dairy milk 3 years ago and my menstrual cycle pain has gotten unbearable- recently my husband said he was craving some good ol 2% milk with some cereal so I broke down and bought both (we don’t eat cereal either) and I noticed I had zero cramps…ZERO. Those bovine hormones help my cramps- not worsen it. So now a week before my cycle I drink a glass of moo juice with my dinner or have some milk and cookies- and no joke I’d go from taking 3-4,000 mg of ibuprofen over a 2-3 day period , now two pills if any.
    I’d like to mention I do not take birth control pills- maybe some people who do would have trouble with dairy.

    Reply
  2. Hey Lara! I’ve always noticed a correlation between my acne and excruciatingly painful periods and my level of milk consumption around that period of time so this is really interesting!

    However I am now 16 trying to recover from H.A, caused by an e.d, and am told to have milk four times a day! I’ve already noticed more flare ups but don’t know whether this is the dairy or just my hormones kicking back in. What are your thoughts on this?
    Thank you for your always insightful information😊
    – Katie

    Reply
    • It could be the dairy. Try speaking to your practitioner about using A2 milk (if you can buy it where you live) or a different kind of high-calorie drink in place of cow’s milk (maybe coconut milk plus protein powder).

      Reply
  3. Almonds are NOT a source of calcium! Please correct this misleading statement. Science is clear about the fact that calcium oxalate does not provide us with any bio-available calcium, and about all the potential harm it can do.

    Reply
  4. I’ve given up all dairy products in March and haven’t had a painful period since April (and it was only mildly uncomfortable not excruciating). I do occasionally eat eggs but have given up all milk products and replaced milk in my cooking to rice milk. It may be difficult but trust me it’s worth it. I’m 23 yrs and have a history of ovarian cysts for reference.

    Reply
  5. Hello, you mention a correlation between childhood recurrent tonsillitis or chest infections and a problem with A1 casein. Could you please explain more on this? If you have a resource, even better.

    Thank you, aj

    Reply
  6. I know that you’ve been recommending goat’s and sheep’s products for women who are sensitive to cow’s dairy.
    Personally, I had been cutting out cow’s dairy for 7 months which had almost no effect on my periods. But when I cut out sheep and goats dairy as well, my period went from “moderately painful” to “no pain at all” within 2 months! Why is that? I’ve never seen you mention that these can be inflammatory as well, so I’m really surprised. (I was mainly eating sheep/goat yogurt and sheep’s cheese before)

    Reply
  7. Dear Dr. Briden,

    For people who do have A1 dairy protein sensitivity, is it safe to eat forms of dairy that are relatively protein-free, such as (presumably organic) cream, sour cream, and cream cheese?

    I’m loving the effects of being dairy-free but also missing dairy tremendously! 🙂

    Many thanks!
    Diana

    Reply
  8. Hi Lara.

    I’ve been off cow dairy (except for butter) for about a month, since last period. I have my period now and my period pain hasn’t improved. A lot of women who go off dairy feel improvement after just a month but it’s not the case for me. I have been having goats milk in my coffee and a little bit of sheep cheese in cooking.

    I’ve had very painful periods and got very bloated on my period for about 6 years and take a lot of painkillers on my period. I only have medium flow periods, so they’re not heavy. My gynaecologist wants me to try a Mirena but I’m putting off that in case I can fix my pain naturally. I’m actually booked in to get the Mirena put in tomorrow but I’m thinking of cancelling or postponing my appointment. I’ve been taking magnesium and zinc at night too.

    Could it take a while for lack of dairy to take the pain away or should I see a difference by now?

    By the way, I’m 27 and haven’t had children.

    Thank you for your time!
    Tasha

    Reply
  9. Hi! I started bovine colostrum some months ago – another try to heal my gut a bit. Seems like I got some benefits first, but then I did not realize that I started to get worse (I always do so many things at the same time, so I never realize what causes what…). I stopped it yesterday, but these months has been an mast cell and hormonal hell. I have have been in a constant mast cell flare with lots of anaphylaxis. The most painful ovulation ever. My last perioda was the worst ever (and I am really used to problems…I have always had extremely heavy bleeading, then menorrhea for many years and when I got my period back I got extremely heavy periods and pain again, my cycles are very irregular etc….and my mcas is very connected to my hormonal cycle. I have very bad gut problems too since childhood, probably a combination of my EDS and too much antibiotics and an EHEC infection I almost died from). But as I wrote, my last period was the worst ever, with extreme bleeding, I was knocked out from pain for 6 days (usually I have maybe 2 days when I have much pain and after that less, but nothing like this), passed out, could not leave my home etc.

    What I wonder is – I have tried to understand how and why the colostrum affected me so much. I am sensitive to everything and I have avoided dairy for many years. (Have tried all kind of diets, but have realized that I do best when I find out what works best for me and not follow a diet with a name that someone tells me to do. As much abalanced as possible, avoiding the worst things, eating enough etc) Seems like I do okey with dairy fat. And I did okey with undenatured whey before I started the colostrum… So I am really doubtful that it is all of the hormones in colostrum that causes problems for me.

    I was thinking that colostrum has very little protein (at least with the small dose of colostrum I take) and should not cause the problems you describe with a1-casein. But, when I started to read I understand that it may be that there is a very high concentration of BCM7 in the colostrum? Can this be why I am okey with whey, but not with colostrum? Is the whey free from BCM7? I have been thinking about trying goat and sheep, but I am afraid when I don´t know what causes my problems…..something in colostrum affects me really really bad and don´t even get these bad reactions from eating other cow milk products.

    Sorry for long post!

    Reply
  10. Thanks for your reply! Yes, avoiding all forms of dairy. I take zinc (picolinate) and curcumin as well. Magnesium glycinate also.

    Reply
    • if that combination does not work, and if it is “intense” pain as you describe, you may need to consider whether it’s endometriosis or adenomyosis. Did your doctor say anything about those conditions?

      They require a stronger approach to treatment.

      Reply
  11. I was very optimistic about this possible solution to the intense period pain I have had for the past 27 years. Yes, definitely had a lot of ear infections as a young kid, so I figured it should help, and approached the change with enthusiasm and meticulousness. After 2 months of no milk, however, I haven’t really noticed much difference. Shall I keep it going? Does it really take 3 months to show results? Thanks!

    Reply
    • are you also avoiding cheese, yoghurt and other dairy?

      As I explain in my blog post When period pain is not normal, my approach with patients is to start with dairy-free, zinc, and maybe turmeric. If that trio of treatments does not work, it raises the possibility that something else is going on.

      Reply
    • She said milk from jersey cows were ok. Jersey and Guernsey cows seems to be what they use for A2 milk. Also, A2 milk shouldn’t have the inflammatory A1 beta casein in it or very little, that’s the whole point behind A2 milk.

      Reply
  12. Wow, this has been life changing for me! I used to dread the start of my period and took painkillers. After avoiding dairy for a month, my next period was completely pain free. No need for painkillers. I am now on my 4th pain free period. Just wanted to thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
  13. Hi Lara, I read and loved your book. Every girl should be given it to read before their periods start. One day I found the strength to go cold turkey stopping dairy and sugar. I’ve had basically no period pain bow for over 2 years, just the ‘warning’ pain before it starts, and this from someone who has had 2 endo removals and both ovarian veins coiled. I love dairy and sugar but I just think about my times in hospital and pass on it! Xo

    Reply
  14. Dear Lara,

    Thank you so much for this article!

    I found your post when searching for information about why being dairy-free has eliminated my period and ovulation pain. (I normally take 16+ Advil per month dealing with menstrual cycle pain.) I was so excited to see the information you shared. Two points:

    (1) When I went cold turkey on giving up dairy, I had an intense period of withdrawal symptoms (that I didn’t recognize except in retrospect) – mainly in the form of a headache that lasted over ten days. Seeing what you wrote about dairy forming opiates, this made complete sense!

    (“In some people, A1 casein cleaves in the digestive tract to form a potent opiate-type molecule (called casomorphin or BCM7) that stimulates histamine and inflammatory cytokines.”)

    (2) I also resonated with this:

    “To assess for a casein problem, I look for the tell-tale childhood symptoms of recurring tonsillitis, chest or ear infections. They were signs of casein immune disruption in childhood.”

    Yes! My childhood was one long ear infection (and one long antibiotic prescription for the non-stop infections, which led to other problems). I am so excited to see the connection at long last!!

    Thank you again so much!!!
    Diana

    Reply
  15. Dear Lara
    I found your blog because of my bad period cramps, so far the worst I ever had and I was very curios about the cause of it specially because I have been very healthy all my life specially four years ago I am vegan at home and vegetarian when eating outside and just if I can’t avoid the dairy in some menus, I do exercise , meditate, etcetera. I realised long time ago that thanks to the exercise I didnt suffer for period cramps specially since I incorporated wheights in to my routine and then I read it was because of the hormones that you segregate during the workout so it was great for me !, however this morning was horrible I had so much pain, diarrea, couldn’t move from my bed until more or less I could put myself out to bed and do some exercise, the reason I think this time my period started so bad wasn’t because I came back from Italy just for holidays and I ate to much cheese, ice cream and possibly cream in the pasta sauces oooooh I feel sick just to think about it then that’s why I was so interested to read that could be some relationship between dairy and cramps, and then I found you, definitely I am going to avoid dairy , thanks a lot Lara

    Reply
  16. I’ve suffered from very painful periods for about 15 years. No doctor ever asked me about my diet and/or a history of respiratory disease/tonsilitis. Instead, they prescribed painkillers and offered me the pill without asking any further questions (I never accepted the pill).Changing my diet by eliminating added sugar and cow’s dairy apart from heavy cream and butter a few months ago has significantly reduced my pain and I hope to eliminate it. II have not needed painkillers in a few cycles, something I never managed to do the years before. This would not have been possible without Dr. Briden’s work. Thank you so much for listening to women and treating them with respect, empathy and expertise! Reading your blog helped me more than any visit to the gynecologist in my life. I also asked another friend with period pain about a history of tonsilitis (which she had). After 15 years of suffering and finally eliminating cow’s dairy, her pain all but disappeared – to her, a “miracle”. Her gynecologist had told her, suffering was part of “being a woman”.

    Reply
  17. Hi Laura,
    My daughter has just started her menstruation, she is 11. She takes organic grass fed milk 1/2-1 cup a day, some organic buttermilk daily. She has a BMI 17. After reading your article, I believe that if I stop all dairy, I will see results quickly. We are vegetarian, no eggs as well.
    I do want her to enjoy her school and play for couple more years at least and grow taller.
    Should I give her some magnesium chloride as well?
    Please let me know your thoughts.

    Reply
  18. Hello Lara!

    After reading your book I have decided to go dairy free! But after reading this article and some comments I am a little confused. I did not have recurring tonsillitis or upper respiratory infections as a child. I have not eaten dairy (except for butter) for a little over a month. My endometriosis pains were improved during my period, but I found that period to be significantly heavier than normal. Could A1 casein be an issue for me if I didn’t have that childhood issue link? I’ve also been taking a high dose curcumin turmeric capsule, so maybe the better pain was from that? I just want to know if it’s possible to have an issue with A1 casein without the link to respiratory illnesses as a child. Thank you for your time and perspective on this situation!

    Reply
  19. Hi Lara, I have been off of dairy (and gluten) for a month after my doctor diagnosed me with those food allergies. My skin got better about 2 weeks in, but is now back to the way it was before the change. I feel so discouraged. I also have been feeling very lightheaded /dizzy and I’m experiencing brain fog and headaches. I never did in the past. I am a vegetarian but I’ve been eating enough (I even gained weight), mostly eggs, avocados, nuts, salads, beans, chickpeas, lentils. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. I am desperate to remain healthy and help my skin.

    Reply
    • Hi, I’m an asian pcos woman, but I’m thin… I heard that pcos is tend to genetic… so I’m desperated….
      I used to be an acne complex and always a complex, though I used to have many reasons during adolescence. Even after becoming an adult, acne did not disappear.
      I had been taking rouacutan steadily for acne. Roacutan is a vitamin a sanction.
      The recent menstrual period is very irregular.
      I am interested in nbe(natural breast enlargement) and want to realize it. Many people say the breast size is small when they have pcos symptoms.

      Is it true?

      My breast size was also small. So I have a complex, I want to improve on hormone therapy rather than surgery.

      While Spearmint is good for reducing androgen, it drinks often. but when it stops, gets acne again.

      The doctor showed symptoms of pcos on the ultrasound, and
      told me it was serious. I think it is because I took a lot of spearmint now. And I think that I can not apply the progesterone cream properly.

      Is breast augmentation the best for pcos patients?

      Can progesterone cream improve hormone imbalance? Is it possible to actually ovulate by applying a progesterone cream?

      I wonder if there is a hormone therapy that I can do for breast growth.

      thank you for reading!!

      Reply
    • Hi, I’m an asian pcos woman. I heard that pcos is tend to genetic… so I’m desperated…. I have symptoms of PCOS despite of my lack of fat… Many doctors recommend dieting for patients with pcos, but the bmi index is 18, so I don’t think I should have a diet anymore.

      So, I think my PCOS symptoms are caused by very genetic causes.
      My mother is taking her medicine with high blood pressure.

      I am very sensitive to stress. And I am actually getting a lot of stress. I know that stress can cause ovulation disorders. If stress is excessive, progesterone is reduced.
      But can it truely cause pcos symptoms?
      Do we get PCOS due to excessive stress?

      I used to be an acne skin always, during adolescence.
      but, acne causes for many reasons even for milk.
      But, even after becoming an adult, acne did not disappear.
      I had been taking rouacutan steadily for acne. Roacutan is a vitamin-a sanction.

      The recent menstrual period is very irregular.

      By the way, I am interested in nbe(natural breast enlargement) and want to realize it. Many people say the breast size is small when they have pcos symptoms. My breast size was small too. So I have a complex about small breasts.

      Is it true? many women with PCOS have small breasts?
      Is there a relationship between PCOS and small breasts?

      I want to improve on hormone therapy rather than surgery.

      While Spearmint is good for reducing androgen,so i drinks very often. but when it stops, gets acne again.

      The doctor showed symptoms of pcos on the ultrasound, and
      told me it was serious. I think it is because I took a lot of spearmint now. And I think that I can not apply the progesterone cream properly.

      Is breast augmentation the best for pcos patients?

      Can progesterone cream improve hormone imbalance? Is it possible to actually ovulate by applying a progesterone cream?

      I wonder if there is a hormone therapy that I can do for breast growth.

      thank you for reading!!

      Reply
  20. Hi Lara,

    Thanks for the very informative text.

    I have a question related to my 14 year old daughter.
    Her period first started 2 years ago in January 2016, and it has been very irregular. It was 4 months on and 4 months off in the first year. Then her period started in January 2017 and she had it up until June 2016 non stop, then it stoped for 2 months and started again in August.

    Our doctor recommended contraception pills, in case this continues in the future.

    Four weeks ago I started buying organic soya milk instead of organic cow milk that I used to buy, and her period has stopped after two weeks. Then she ordered a glass of hot chocolate when he was out with her friends and her period was back for a couple of days, and stoped again. Is there any type of test that we can do to identify the problem? What would you recommend?

    Thanks in advance.

    Best,
    Jelena

    Reply
  21. Hey Lara!

    Could you give your thoughts on whey protein isolate for those suffering form endometriosis? Theoretically whey protein (particularly isolate, I would imagine) shouldn’t contain any casein, so I wondered if this would be suitable?

    Thanks so much,

    Lauren 🙂

    Reply
    • Hello again!

      After having a better look, I can see you’ve addressed this question–sorry!! I do have a follow-up question for you…what are your thoughts on red meat consumption (assuming that the red meat is organic and grass-fed)? I have been ‘taken off’ red meat for some time and encouraged to eat a more plant-based diet, but do not feel better doing this, and also do not wish to lose muscle mass. Eggs seem to be a grey area for me (sometimes I have them and I’m perfectly fine, other times I get bloating and pain…) and I am limited when only eating chicken and some fish. The rationale from my naturopath for cutting out red meat related to it being ‘more difficult to digest’, amongst other things. I’d really appreciate your thoughts.

      Lauren 🙂

      Reply
  22. Hi Lara,
    Would you recommend avoiding dairy for unexplained infertility? Don’t have any of the period problems mentioned or childhood infections. My current naturopath doesn’t recommend avoiding but I have seen it recommended elsewhere for infertility and wondered your thoughts.

    Reply
    • The way I see it is that it doesn’t hurt anything to switch to goat and sheep dairy (A2 dairy). That way, you retain the nutritional value of dairy, but remove and potentially inflammatory effect (That yes, could be affecting your fertility). But. Please also consider your partner, and in particular, sperm morphology.

      Reply
      • Thanks for your comment, fully removing dairy is the one thing I haven’t done & yes husband has been checked multiple times. I will give it a try, I really love my cheese!!

        Reply
  23. I have the opposite problem. When I stop drinking milk my period cramps are intense and I also start getting random muscle twitches and spasms all over my body. I’ve tried it twice now – going off dairy for over a month and both times my body had period cramps that nearly made me faint from pain. After 2 months – I start drinking organic milk again and my muscle twitches stop and my period is nearly pain free? I don’t understand my body – trying to though.

    Reply
  24. Have you ever come across a case where going dairy free messed up a patient’s cycle? I’ve been dairy free (and gluten free) about a month, my period started a week and a half early, and 8 days later I’m still bleeding and cramping like it’s day 2 or 3. I’m ALWAYS done by day 6. Could I need the hormones in milk to support my cycle? I was on the pill for over a decade, which screwed up my endocrine system. I’ve been to three different doctors recently for other health problems and am on topical progesterone. I was only consuming raw grassfed milk and cheese. Is there anything I can do to make my period to end?

    Reply
    • How recently did you come off the Pill? When you say your period is always 6 days, do you mean real periods or pill-bleeds?

      Reply
  25. If you’re reading this post, you’re old enough to know if you have an allergy to milk by the obvious symptoms. If you aren’t suffering (breathing issues, lips blowing up like balloons, hives, etc) then its very unlikely you have an A1 casein allergy going on and therefore no need to quite dairy for that reason. f you don’t like cows being abused and killed before age 2 then THAT is a great reason to stop drinking their milk. Not to mention their new born babies are ripped from them the moment they come out and if male usually killed and if female never bonding with mom (because her milk is not for her baby but for us selfish humans) so she goes on to suffer the same fate as her mom – repeatedly impregnated, to keep the milk flowing, then killed before age 2. Lets try that on a human being and see how long you all want to drink milk. Over feed til puberty (12 years old maybe) impregnate the human, then use her for her milk for 2 years or so, then shoot a numbing bullet before slicing her throat to drain the blood – assuming they will double use/abuse this animal as meat after all that. Yeah, sick ass world we live in people, wake up!

    We’d never do it to human, so we should never do it to ANY sentient being… no animal deserves this torture we evil humans inflict and then justify our behaviors. How many cows have you killed by your milk or meat consumption? Look it up on become informed.

    Reply
  26. This is a great article! I stopped eating dairy about 6 weeks ago. I love cheese, but I was in so much pain that I was willing to give it up; which was hard. My boobs would start hurting a week after my period was over and I would have 3 weeks of PMS and then my period would come and it would be hell. My boobs hurt so bad I would be taking ibuprofen all day just to function. I would just be sitting and the pain would be intense. So far no breast pain since I stopped eating dairy. Which is a miracle for me! I’ve been eating cheese since I was a kid and I never made the connection.

    Reply
  27. After reading your article about histamine and oestrogen I stopped dairy (so far 3 weeks) but the only dairy I was having was goats cheese. I read above that goats cheese doesn’t usually cause problems. However I am sure I saw a difference in my histamine symptoms. Could it just be in my head that I felt an improvement?

    Reply
  28. Hi, I recently bought your book. I am reading the recommended treatment for PCOS. Is it OK to use all the supplements recommended such as magnesium,berbine,alpha liporic acid and ect as well as metformin at the same time

    Reply
    • In general, it can be ok to combine those supplements, but please check with your doctor. Also, berberine should not be taken for more than about 8 weeks at a time.

      Reply
  29. Hi Lara

    I’ve recently started drinking goats milk kefir to help my acne however the 2 menstrual cycles I’ve had since I’ve had really painful breasts and cramping when I’m on my period. I’m having a large glass a day of the kefir and I’m wondering if that is causing the problems?

    I already take magnesium, fish oil, don’t have cows dairy, am gluten-free and very healthy in other respects so not sure why.

    Also these 2 cycles have been shorter than usual.

    Thanks for any insights you have!

    Lauren

    Reply
  30. It’s great to know what is in dairy that can cause very uncomfortable period pain. But there’s more than milk to get a good amount of calcium in your diet. Vegetables like broccoli or spinach have high amounts of calcium.
    Ensure to follow a diet that’s high in fibre. I like cabbage or beet based soups and salads and if you have cheese cravings, try nutritional yeast!
    I love cheese but have learnt to minimize and find alternatives. Less bloating, lighter cycles and barely any cramps!

    Reply
    • Vegetables like broccoli or spinach have high amounts of calcium.

      as per i know we shouldn’t eat calcium rich food with iron rich food as per the absorption of both ..and it is advisable to keep a gap of 2 hours between. .and not to combine them together in one meal .. fig is rich in iron ..cheese rich in calcium. .. can be combined ?

      ..if you have cheese cravings, try nutritional yeast!
      what is the relationship between the cheese and yeast ! I didn’t get the point dear ! I did not understand. .. should we replace cheese by yeast !

      Reply
  31. Thank you for this article. I am just starting my journey with going dairy free to help alleviate painful and heavy periods. I was wondering of consuming whey protein or whey isolate protein powders are acceptable?

    Reply
  32. Are there any studies that link the onset of your period with dairy consumption? I’m peri-menopausal (having not yet hit the magical year without a period to be deemed menopausal). I’ve had years of irregular and VERY infrequent periods with fibroids and endometriosis. Lately I’ve noticed a correlation between consumption of yogurt, dairy products with spotting and bleeding.

    Reply
  33. No need to stop eating dairy, just stop eating none organic dairy. Although FDA says there is not so much difference but it is not true! Try it you will see!

    Reply
  34. I am off dairy due to PCOS. I have found that almond milk is great for ensuring you get enough calcium – one glass has 30% of your daily calcium requirement. (I only drink sweetened original or unsweetened vanilla to minimize the sugar content – even sweetened original only has 8 g of sugar per glass.)

    Reply
  35. Hi Lara, after going on A2 dairy exclusively as you suggested, I came accross an interesting fact in my research, that I thought is worth sharing. Per the usual info available on the subject of A2 cow dairy, it is believed that Holstein ( /Fresian) cows produce only A1 dairy while Jersey cows (mostly) and Guernsey cows (wholly) produce A2 dairy. This is such a commonly held belief that even on the A2 milk company’s website, this information is repeated.

    However, I got in touch with the A2 brand here in the US to reconfirm which breed of cows they are using and which farms they source from for the huge US market. I was told they are actually using Holstein cows and the farms in Nebraska and upstate New York supply this milk to the whole of the US. I’ve reconfirmed this info with them twice via different forums.

    I wonder how this can be correct? I was under the impression that Jersey cows are the only ones the produce a mix of A2/A1 milk (majority A2 – mid volume) and all other breeds are either A2 ( Guernsey – Low volume) or A1 (Holstein – high volume)

    I was trying to source for A2 non homogenized low pasteurised milk from local Farmers and since they haven’t tested their entire herd, I was hoping to select based on the commonly known cow breed – protein type classification. But now with this new info regarding Holstein also being A2/A2 cows, it’s become massively confusing once again. Who’s to say whether in actuality the Jersey or Guernsey breeds are mostly or only A2 producing, as we currently believe ? It makes it v tough to trust the dairy source.

    Reply
    • My understanding was that most Holstein cows are A1A2 or A1A1, and can be bred to be A2A2. Going forward, I hope that more farmers will test their entire herds. There are a few other comments about this in the thread.
      The other option is to stick with goat or sheep products.

      Reply
  36. Quick question that I can’t seem to find an answer for! One day per month (today) about a week before my period starts, I get diarrhea when I consume milk. It only lasts for the day and will get diarrhea evey time I consume milk that day and some mild cramping also. What is going on with my body? Why do I get this? Note…I love milk and drink lots of it on a daily basis…its my favourite drink! Any help ould be greatly appreciated!! Thank you!

    Reply
      • I don’t have an easy answer for that one, sorry. My guess would be that your microbiome (intestinal bacteria) is slightly different at that time in your cycle, and so you react differently to milk. Fluctuating female hormones have a strong effect on the microbiome.

        Reply
  37. Hey Lara! It was so lovely to meet you and get to know you a bit at the Ancestral Health Symposium in Queenstown. Question for you…

    I am three weeks into a Whole30 (NO grains, dairy, legumes, seed oils, sugar, or alcohol) and have lost some weight (though I don’t know how much because I’m not allowed to weigh myself – but my PT has been weighing me). I currently have my period, and lo and behold, for the first time in a couple of years it’s not painful! Normally I want to curl up into a ball for a couple of days.

    However, I do still feel like I’ve gained back all of the weight I’ve lost and then some! I’m going to put that down to bloating and water retention, as my diet and exercise have been consistent over the last few weeks. I did a quick Google, and all I got was ‘eat less salt, and it’s likely because your period makes you crave carbs so you eat a few extra hundred calories per day while you have your period leading to weight gain.’ Nope, that’s not it.

    Is there anything else I can do to support my body and stop it feeling like it’s the size of a house? It’s not all in my head – my clothes feel tight too! The only dairy I’ve been eating and is Whole30 compliant is ghee.

    Thanks Lara, and hope you’re well! Jenna

    Reply
    • Hi Jenna,
      Great to meet you too!
      It sound like premenstrual fluid retention. Natural treatments for premenstrual fluid retention include vitamin B6, magnesium and Vitex (see my post Vitamin B6 and Other Serious Cures).

      Also, premenstrual fluid retention should improve the longer you’re off dairy and other inflammatory foods. Three weeks is early days.

      Reply
  38. Hi Lara, do you have any insight into cow’s milk kefir? does it contain A1? I’m having trouble finding reliable information about whether it is inflammatory in the same way regular milk is. There is an amazing kefir stand near my work and it’s such a great snack! 🙂

    Reply
  39. Thank you, Lara! Great post. I’m learning a lot from you! I have seen many patients do better with sheep or goat dairy, or without dairy at all, but I was not aware that milk from Jersey cows might be an option too.

    I like your lists of period problems and childhood symptoms that mean avoiding dairy is worth a try. I’d add to the list excessive cervical or vaginal discharge, mucus-y and/or purplish menstrual blood, and a generally “phlegmy” constitution. All those would suggest damp, cold and phlegm in Chinese medicine understanding.

    Reply
    • Wow. Thanks for your input Leilani! That’s really helpful.
      I absolutely agree with your description of a “phlegmy” constitution (I also have some training in Chinese medicine).
      Also, I should clarify about Jersey cows. As a few people have pointed out in the comments of my A1 milk post, some herds of Jersey cows have one copy of the A1 allele. It’s worth asking the farmer if you can.

      Reply
  40. This article claims that it’s not the fat in dairy, and that it might be the hormones. Well, I have news for you, the majority of the hormones in dairy reside in the fat. The protein hormone will be digested by the stomach acid, but the potent lipid soluble hormones like 5 alpha reduced progesterone, 17beta estrone, and many other potent sex and adrenal hormones which are not digested in the stomach, and are bio identical to the human kind, are in the fat component of milk.

    The reason commercial dairy fat is full of these hormones is because the milk which ends up in the collection tanker is from a mix of pregnant and non pregnant lactating cows. Traditionally cows were not milked into their next pregnancy, or if so only by a month or two. For the last few decades, cows are milked right up till before they give birth in their next pregnancy in an almost continuous cycle. It’s about profits. It costs money and is not profitable to feed an animal that is not producing any milk. This is not how things were done in times gone by. Most families living on a decent block would have a couple of cows and if one was mated to have a calf, you’d get milk for the family for a year just from that one cow. Nobody was fat, or had any hormonal conditions.

    Reply
  41. Hi Lara,

    I’m wondering what it means to spot on day 28 of my cycle and feel crampy like my period is starting- only for it to stop for about 4 days and then ill get a full period. I was diagnosed with PCOS 15 years ago and my only symptoms now are hairloss from time to time and these strange cycles now for about 6 months. Thanks!

    Reply
  42. This very interesting. ..I have suffered from severe headaches,aching joints, IBS for many yrs…also on two inhaler for asthma.Through my own reseach and drinking green tea within a few days off coming off all dairy I was like a new person..Still was not right so I came off wheat and eggs aswell…in 8 mths I lost 2 stone in weight and at 58yrs old now had the energy of a 16 yr old..This was 2yrs ago, I still stick to my strict diet but get plenty of fresh fish,fruit and vegetables…
    My Chronic Sinusitis was the cause of my headaches also middle infection..My Doctor is totally amazed at how well I am now…

    Reply
    • thanks for your comment Norma. I’ve also observed many stories of dramatic improvement when my some of my patients come off dairy.

      Reply
    • My gut feeling is that dairy is a breast cancer risk. I say that based on the way dairy causes other hormonal problems (discussed in this post), and the fact that many of the breast cancer sufferers I’ve known report having been big dairy consumers at some point in their lives.
      Of course we do not yet have scientific evidence to prove a dairy-breast cancer link. I personally don’t want to wait for the science to catch up, so I avoid normal dairy to prevent breast cancer amongst other reasons.

      Reply
      • I have heard of many consultants advising their breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer patients to stop all dairy. It is obviously not meant for humans anyway. Breast milk is. If this advise got out to the general public I wonder if the dairy industry would collapse overnight. We are told how good dairy is for us and we believe it. I stopped being a sheep years ago.
        Just found your blog so will be having a big cup of tea and a good read.

        Thanks.

        Reply
  43. Hi Lara, I really appreciate this advice but before I take it on board I would like to know your opinion on the Harvard study that showed eating more full-fat dairy resulted in a reduced risk of infertility from ovulatory disorders. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/64192.php

    As a woman with PCOS, I have been trying to incorporate one serve of full-fat dairy daily but now I am wondering if this is doing me damage as I also have a history of fibroids and recurrent tonsillitis?

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah, Yes, that’s the same study I link to the article. They found that full-fat is better than low-fat for fertility. That makes sense, because fat is the beneficial part of dairy. Also full-fat, contains proportionally less protein (which is the inflammatory part).
      The confusing thing about dairy is that it is fine for some people, but highly inflammatory for others. In your case, since you have history of tonsillitis, then I would say it is probably inflammatory for you, and you’re better off without any of it. But if you do have some, then choose full fat.

      Reply
  44. Hello Lara,
    I’m curious about Kefir? You suggest this is a healthy alternative, and I’ve read it is healthier than yogurt because of its higher probiotic count. Is it still important to forgo in these above cases?

    Reply
  45. Thanks for this post, I put it into bookmarks when it was freshly out, but today I was reminded to it. I enjoy your thorough posts 🙂
    I’m not totally dairy free, but when I was for 5 months, my fibroids size drastically dropped (to its third). Just an info for future readers 😉 Nowadays I eat cheese sometimes because I love it but nothing else.

    Reply
  46. Umm…I’ve read somewhere that since raw milk contains the digesting enzymes, it rarely poses a problem. But that might be about the lactose. (Enzyme is lactase.)

    Reply
  47. Hi Lara for some reason I only got notification of this today. Anyway Thanks for another great blog post I just sent it to a parent friend of mine. I wanted to say that in Australia and NZ, “Holstein”cows are known as “Friesians’ (We got them from Holland originally). Can you please put that word in as well?

    Warmly, Penny

    Reply
  48. I would like to add that, for some people, no animal milks actually work out. I do fine with cream and butter (goat or cow), but start to have problems after only a small amount of goat, sheep or Jersey milks. (I totally stay away from standard cow’s milk.) Raw or pasteurized does not seem to matter. For me, milk leads to mood swings. It seems like the proteins of the milks irritates my nervous or emotional systems in some unknown way. Homemade coconut milk is delicious, and is my everyday milk.

    Reply
  49. I had frequent ear infections as a child. I was sensitive to dairy foods as a teenager. When I cut out dairy (except for a small amount of Jersey milk) I got very sick. I did that for two years. Adding in plain old commercial dairy made me a lot better. One thing that worked for me to eliminate period pain is magnesium. I started taking magnesium five years ago and ever since I’ve had zero period pains. Doesn’t even matter what type of magnesium. I’ve used magnesium citrate, carbonate, glycinate, chloride, sulphate ~ all of it works great for period pain in my experience.

    Reply
    • Really, no amount of magnesium helped my period nor my pmdd (a dysphoric disorder thats like pms on steroids basically). I took myself off dairy entirely and started to consume more green tea (even bought green tea capsules) and bam! Those horrid painful cramps, and awful pizza face moments and those moments where I would want to send my own head through a wall completely vanished after only a month of doing this routine. Carrot juice is also another good way to get your calcium intake.

      Reply
  50. Hello Lara,
    I’m a few pages away from completing your book…. Fabulous read, I highly recommend it for all women, not just when you have an issue. I have a couple questions. I started the supplements that you mention but I’m unsure how to take iodine (put it on the skin, mix with water and drink?) (1) What is the best way? I have had surgery for endo but it’s back. I started exercising (PiYo so low impact) and bled for almost a month which I assume is from the exercise. (2) Is bleeding a bad thing? Should I be concerned with the bleeding? It becomes so normal when you have endo. (3) Also, I need to increase my B12, what is the best way to take a B12, shot, under the tongue liquid or another way?.. Thank you so much for this book!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your feedback about my book.
      Iodine is best mixed with water, and then taken by mouth.
      re: the bleeding. You’re right that it’s common with endometriosis, but it’s still a symptom that you should make your doctor aware of. Just in case she wants to investigate further. If she determines that the bleeding is just from endometriosis, then it should improve with treatment.
      Finally, if your doctor wants to give you a B12 injection, then it’s probably a good idea. It’s the best method, but under-the-tongue is a close second.

      Reply
  51. Hi Dr. Lara, can you please do an article on the MTFHR gene mutation & “methylating”? There’s a lot of conflicting info out there & I think it would help a lot of us out if you simplified it for us. Thanks! 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah, Yes, I’ll work on an MTHFR post in the next month or two. (I do mention it very briefly in my book.)

      Reply
  52. Thank you for your lovely articles. I’ve read a lot of health articles that are confusing and overwhelming but yours are so clear and positive and leave me feeling encouraged. Thanks again!

    Reply
  53. This is an area that most confuses me. I relate to the dairy problem, as a child I had recurring chest infections, sinus/head colds and tonsillitis (they removed them at age 4) Now my almost 2 y/o daughter seems to have the same issue. I have recently switched to a paleo style diet (incorporating gentle starches) and have experimented with removing sugar too (fructose). I have found that my tolerance for dairy seems to have improved vastly. I used to experience inflamed sinuses and increased mucous(nasal) within an hour or so of consuming dairy. Now, I can seemingly metabolise organic whole milk far better. I am hoping to conceive again (post 2 miscarriages in 2014) So much material on fertility diets suggests eating whole dairy. Would you suggest coconut milk as a safe/ practical alternative? Almond milk and others do not contain the necessary fat

    Reply
    • Hi Laura, thanks for your comment. Whole, full-fat, dairy such as cream is SO much easier to tolerate. Even casein-sensitive people can usually get away with cream because full-fat dairy has less casein. Also, as you point out, the fat is beneficial.
      Why not find some nice full-fat Jersey or sheep milk dairy? Or, yes, coconut milk is great.

      Reply
  54. I discovered this post while doing some hormone research. Have you looked at the benefits of raw grass-fed dairy? I dealt with major hormone imbalances and struggled with all the things you talk about in this post, much of it due to not getting enough healthy saturated fats. My family had drastically reduced our raw milk/cheese and grass-fed beef consumption due to finances. So I decided to do the “raw milk cleanse” (drinking/eating nothing but raw grass-fed milk for a short time to detox with a nutrient-dense living food). After weeks of migraines, exhaustion, period flooding, etc., I am feeling nearly 100% and have no migraines!

    Many people have found that health/hormone issues due to pasteurized dairy can be eliminated by drinking raw dairy (from grass-fed A2 jersey and/or brown swiss cows) and many issues not even related can be helped because it is such a healthy life-giving substance!

    So while I don’t disagree with your post, I wonder if it would be more informative to say “pasteurized dairy (from conventionally-raised Holstein cows)” instead.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Alli.
      Absolutely, Holstein cows are the only cows who make any substantial amount of A1 casein. So Holstein milk is a problem, even when it’s raw.
      On the other hand, full-fat Jersey dairy (raw or pasteurised) is fine for most people (so is sheep and goat).

      Reply
  55. Lara, if your DHEA is high & prevents your breasts from developing, are the estrogen/progesterone receptors permanently turned off at the breasts preventing them from ever developing even if thd DHEA is normalized? Why wouldn’t I see breast development after losing excess fat & therefore correcting the cause (Insulin Resistance, PCOS)? I have a definite diagnosis that I am underdeveloped…never passed budding. Please help.

    Reply
  56. Nice article.
    Can you comment on cheese and full fat yogurt. SInce these are fermented products, does it lessen the casein component?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Great question. My understanding is that fermentation does not lessen the casein component, so yoghurt is still a problem. As for cheese, my understanding is that the casein component really varies depending on the type of cheese. I would really welcome any further comments on clarification on this issue from readers!

      Reply

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