Milk, cheese, and butter are some of the top three foods many people have a hard time giving up when transitioning to a healthy, plant-based diet. Even though the plant-based milk industry is now booming, thanks to all the varieties of options that we have, many people still do use dairy milk, cheese, and butter without abandon. But is this a coincidence? Is cheese pizza really something magical or is it addictive for so many people because of something else?
Considering cheese actually has a horrible smell and is rather gross when you consider how it’s made, there aren’t any magical properties behind cheese (or other dairy products) that make them anything special. The reason why they’re so addictive is largely due to a certain type of protein dairy products contain.
Meet Milk Protein: Whey and Casein
There are two types of protein found in dairy products: casein and whey protein. Thirty-eight percent of the solid matter in milk is made of protein. Of that total protein, 80 percent is casein and 20 percent is whey. Cheese is made mostly of casein, where most of the liquid whey found in milk has been filtered or strained out. But all dairy products contain casein, not just cheese. The difference between whey and casein is how they’re digested and how they react in the body.
Whey protein is digested quickly and absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream, which causes an increase in insulin quickly. This process stimulates IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) which has been found to create new cancer cells and proliferate cancer cell growth. Yikes!
Casein: Your Brain and Body’s Worst Nightmare
Casein is very different from whey, though just as detrimental to your health. Casein breaks down more slowly and in the process, also wreaks havoc on your health.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the author of The China Study, says through his studies he has found casein to be the most relevant cancer promoter ever discovered. Because casein digests so slowly, natural morphine-like substances in casein known as casomorphins, act like opiates in the body as they enter the bloodstream. Just minutes after you eat a dairy-based food, the casein protein begins to break down. This releases the drug-like casomorphins, which attach to opiate receptors in the brain and cause severe addictions to dairy products (hence the reason they keep people coming back for more.) Casomorphins trigger such an addictive response that they’ve been compared to heroin in terms of their strength to cause food addictions and mood disorders.
Casein’s slow digestion rate also puts great strain on the digestive system. Dr. Frank Lipman (an Integrative and Functional Medical expert), explains that the body has an extremely difficult time breaking down casein. Dr. Lipman says that common symptoms of dairy sensitivity due to casein are: excess mucus production, respiratory problems and digestive problems like constipation, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea. Dairy intolerance is also known to cause skin issues like acne, rashes, and redness or irritation. Skip the casein and try eating more of these Inexpensive Vegan Foods That Brighten Your Skin instead!
Morphine in Milk- What the Dairy Industry Doesn’t Advertise on Their Products
If you still think a harmless glass of milk, a cup of yogurt, or a small serving of cheese isn’t potentially dangerous, think again. Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D. (founder of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, a.k.a PCRM) found that in various studies, when dairy products were removed from the diet, cheese was the hardest food for people to give up. Dr. Barnard credits this finding to cheese being the most concentrated source of casein of all dairy products. PCRM has also discovered that milk actually contains morphine, which can clearly be seen when milk is inspected under a microscope. Morphine is not added to cow’s milk; cows actually produce these opiate-like chemicals on their own.
Beware of the Sneaky Place Casein Lurks (Hint, It’s Not Just Dairy!)
The Trouble With Casein is that it’s not just found in dairy products. In fact, this dangerous ingredient is often used in other foods, even those that are marketed as a vegan food. Casein is used in food for its scientific properties to thicken and congeal foods and likely for its addictive properties to sell more products. Some brands of veggie cheeses, non-dairy yogurts, non-dairy, and non-dairy creamers contain casein for these very reasons. Casein is also found in some other non-food items such as: paint, adhesives, glues, fabrics, textiles, and plastics. Can you believe that? Items in your home and your clothes could even contain this toxic protein naturally found in dairy!
How to Spot Casein on a Label:
You’ll find casein listed as either of the following: casein, caseinates, calcium caseinate, potassium caseinate and sodium caseinate. Read labels thoroughly and buy products that are 100 percent vegan to be sure you’re not consuming this ingredient. If you have a question about the ingredients in your food or household product, you may also want to contact the manufacturer to inquire about it more thoroughly.
Other Problems With Dairy and Your Health
As you can see, it’s no wonder that gooey cheese pizza or bowl of dairy milk ice cream is so hard for many people to give up, but addiction isn’t the only problem dairy causes. Dairy has also been linked to brain fog and depression, which creates even more havoc to the brain and body. Lactose, a milk sugar found in dairy, is also one of the number one allergies people have in the United States.
Believe it or not, life does go on without dairy milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, and butter. In fact, it gets better! Plant-based foods come with just as many satisfying properties as dairy foods do, yet they contain no morphine or other nasty chemicals found in dairy foods. Check out these 10 Reasons to Ditch Dairy if you’re still on the fence.
Here are some healthy options to buy instead of dairy products:
- unsweetened non-dairy milk – (Learn all the different ways to use it in your recipes or make your own non-dairy milk.)
- coconut butter, avocados, or coconut oil in place of butter (or learn to make your own vegan butter.)
- coconut, soy, or almond milk ice cream in place of ice cream (or learn to make your own non-dairy ice cream.)
- coconut kefir in place of dairy kefir
- coconut or almond yogurt in place of yogurt
- nutritional yeast, vegan Parmesan, or other non-dairy cheeses in place of dairy cheese
- plant-based protein powder instead of whey protein powder
- instead of dairy pizza, make one of these 27 dairy-free pizzas instead
As you can see, there are plenty of dairy replacements to choose from to avoid casein, though you’ll still need to read labels to be sure. You can use these delicious plant-based options to recreate fabulous dishes in your recipes and change your health in the process.
Need recipes? We’ve got plenty of dairy-free options to choose from!
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Carly Lesser & Art Drauglis/Flickr