Eliminating Acne & Other Unexpected Ways Your Body Changes When You Stop Eating Dairy

by Carina Wolff
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Whether you're becoming vegan or just trying out something new in your diet, you may have wondered what would happen when you cut out dairy. Eliminating any particular food group can lead to some changes in your body, and there are some unexpected things that can happen when you stop eating dairy. Eating some dairy can be a healthy part of your diet, but if you think you may be lactose intolerant or just want to stick to a plant-based diet, you can expect a shift in your body once you cut back.

"Numerous people could potentially benefit from cutting out dairy, if it is done in a healthy way," Mascha Davis MPH, RD tells Bustle. "All nutrients need to be covered, but that can be done with a healthy, dairy-free diet, especially with the amount of alternatives available now. It could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from gastrointestinal issues, skin issues, or allergies."

It is important to remember that cutting out dairy could lead to a lack of certain nutrients, like calcium or vitamin D, if you don’t make sure to get them from other sources. But if you're curious to see how your body reacts to cutting out dairy, it could be worth a try. Here are five unexpected ways your body can change when you stop eating dairy, according to experts.


Clearer Skin

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If you are someone who suffers from acne, drinking less milk could lead to improvements in your skin. Research out of the journal Clinical Nutrition found a link between dairy and acne occurrence, particularly milk. The association was particularly strong for skim milk, which doubled the occurrence of acne compared to whole milk. "However, current research does not suggest that all dairy is associated with acne," Carrie Walder, MS, RD tells Bustle. "No relationship has been found with yogurt and cheese intake and increased risk of acne. Interestingly, the probiotics in plain, unsweetened yogurt may actually help prevent breakouts."


Less Tummy Troubles

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Many people experience improved gastrointestinal health when they cut out dairy. "If you are lactose intolerant but still eating dairy, you may notice that gas, bloating, indigestion, stomach cramps and/or diarrhea improve," Ginger Hultin, MS, RD, CSO tells Bustle. If you think diary is to blame for your issues, speak with your doctor to see if a dairy-free diet is a good idea.


Or More Tummy Troubles

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On the flip side, some people actually experience more gastrointestinal issues when they cut out this food group. "If you're consuming fermented dairy foods like sour cream and yogurt and suddenly discontinue, you could experience shifts in your bowel habits, including increased diarrhea or constipation," says Hultin. "This is because you have removed a source of probiotics in the diet, and that could affect your intestinal microbiome."

To avoid this, Hultin recommends adding back in probiotic foods that don't include dairy such as eating kimchi, sauerkraut, or pickles.


Less Mucus Irritation

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Although it is actually a myth that dairy increases mucus, it does make the mucus thicker, according to research from the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Because of this change in texture, the mucus can irritate the throat more, and cutting out dairy may help with this problem.


Fewer Migraines

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If you are someone who gets a lot of headaches, you may benefit from eliminating certain types of cheese from your diet. Aged cheeses have been found to trigger migraines. This is due to the chemical tyramine, a substance that occurs naturally in food, but is a well-accepted migraine trigger. In addition to aged cheeses, some people may be affected by other types of dairy as well.

Everyone's body will have a different reaction to cutting out dairy, but these are just some of the possibilities. If you do decide to cut out the food group, make sure you replace it with other nutritious foods to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need.