‘Dairy causes inflammation’ is a popular catch cry in the ‘alternative health’ sphere that I hear oft repeated. The scientific evidence shows the opposite though, with dairy having significant anti-inflammatory action.
Is dairy really an inflammatory food that should be on the ‘avoid’ list for everyone? I’ve always wondered how it has come to be, that my decades in medical nutrition research, my subscription to 23 leading medical and nutrition journals and keeping up with almost all areas of nutrition research that I’ve missed this link?
And I don’t mean an isolated study or two that shows that dairy causes inflammation. You can put a case forward for any food or nutrient causing or preventing any disease you want if you dig deep enough in the literature (as my viral Broccoli is Toxic blog post showed). I mean a consistent narrative of demonstrating inflammation seen across animal, observational and intervention studies and which outweighs studies that don’t show it or the opposite.
Well, here we have a just published systematic review of the clinical evidence from 52 trials looking at dairy consumption and inflammation. And the result? Dairy actually has significant anti-inflammatory action which is bang on what I would expect considering the range of bioactive compounds in it linked to this. And no, the study was not funded by the dairy industry.
It is only in people with dairy allergies (intolerances are not allergies) that you see inflammation and which should be surprising to no one. Peanuts, shellfish, eggs and so the list goes on are all ‘inflammatory’ if you have an allergy – that’s what an allergic reaction is after all.
If you don’t like milk-based foods, have ethical issues with it, or even have some tolerance issues with it – don’t eat or drink it – simple. Lots of other delicious foods to eat in the world. But don’t cut it from your diet just because of popularist woo pushed by ‘wellness’ bloggers.