As a huge fan of every milk-based product ever, it pains me to learn about the weird effects dairy can have on the body. There's no denying that many a strange thing can happen after eating ice cream, or a piece of cheese. And yes, symptoms often crop up even in people who aren't technically lactose intolerant.
That's because — like it or not — dairy doesn't always react well in body. "Unrelated to lactose intolerance, dairy promotes mucus production that aggravates symptoms of the sinuses and lungs," primary care practitioner Dr. Dana Simpler tells Bustle. It can also lead to gas and bloating, especially if you have a mild or moderate case of lactose intolerance.
If you experience anything strange, it's definitely worth telling your doctor. A lactose intolerance test might reveal your inability to digest the sugar (lactose) in milk, according to the Mayo Clinic, which would also explain any gastrointestinal complaints you've had. If you find out you have a milk allergy, on the other hand, it might explain your tendency to break out in hives post-ice cream. (Not something you should ignore, btw.)
I'm not someone who has either of the above issues, but I still feel kinda crappy after eating dairy. If it doesn't sit well with you, either, then it may be worth backing off on the cheeses for a while — all in the name of better health. Read on for some of the stranger signs it may be time to experiment with a dairy-free life.
1. You Have Unexplained Migraines
If you deal with annoying migraines after partaking in, say, a delicious cheese platter, it may be the dairy that's to blame. As Dr. Mark Khorsandi tells Bustle, "Dairy is actually included as one of the ‘dirty dozen’ when it comes to headache and migraine triggers." It's all thanks to a bad reaction in your nerves, which can manifest a few hours or days after dairy is consumed.
2. You Have Weird Dreams
Some people swear dairy affects their dreams, and others say it causes straight up nightmares. While there isn't much science to support either claim, there may be a scientific explanation. "Eating heavy meals with a high fat content late at night can give you indigestion, which in turn disturbs your sleep," said health expert Claudia Hammond on BBC. "Disturbed sleep often involves more nightmares, or at least the memory of more nightmares, because you wake more often and remember them." If this happens to you, it may be time to kick the night cheese habit once and for all.
3. Your Sinuses Are Stuffed Up
If you experience chronic stuffiness, calling it quits with the dairy might help. As Simpler says, "dairy increases mucous, which aggravates any allergy or cold symptom." If you've ever felt extra phlegmy after eating cheese, then you know the feeling.
4. Your Skin Is Breaking Out
If you take great care of your skin, but still can't seem to tame your zits, it may be due to inflammation caused by dairy. As board certified doctor of medical aesthetics Dr. Yelena Yeretsky tells me, this is often due to the hormones found in many milk products, as well as the additives and antibiotics. "These different hormones/additives are foreign to the body so when they enter, the body tries to protect itself ... causing all of the [negative skin] effects," she says.
5. Your Eyes Feel Kinda Puffy
Robin Shirley, founder of the Take Back Your Health Conference, tells me she experiences red, swollen eyes about 12 hours after eating dairy. "It took me about two years to identify that dairy was the source, but I did extensive elimination testing on myself and it is the dairy — whether it's milk, ice cream, butter, or cheese." If this type of swelling also happens to you, get tested for a milk allergy ASAP.
6. Something's Up With Your Hormones
As I said above, the hormones given to dairy cows often stick around in their milk. "If you ask me, these growth hormones have no place in the human body," says certified holistic nutritionist Hannah Kohler, in an email to Bustle. "Mood swings, gas, bloating, weight gain, acne, early menstruation .... these are some of the scary effects of dairy." If you experience anything like this, talk to a doctor. And try giving up milk for a while to see if you feel better.
7. You Feel A Bit Itchy
Some people experience itchiness after eating dairy, Yeretsky tells me. This could be due to any number of things, from the aforementioned allergic symptoms to a case of inflammation.
If anything strange happens to you, don't let it be ignored — especially if you think you have an allergy. An elimination diet, or a test from your doctor, can help reveal what you'll need to do to feel better. (Even if it means saying goodbye to your beloved dairy. Sigh.)
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