The evidence is clear that the food you eat can directly impact your mood. We know that high-quality diets are linked with lower rates of depression and greater dairy consumption is sometimes associated with lower quality western-style diets.
Dairy includes foods such as milk, butter, cheese, cream, yoghurt & ice cream, and is a rich source of protein and nutrients such as calcium. However, it is frequently reported as a problematic food and there are several studies that have explored the connection between high dairy consumption and depression.
Here is why you might want to be selective with how much dairy you consume, especially if you are experiencing mood issues.
Dairy can promote inflammation
Many dairy foods contain a very high proportion of saturated fats.
Saturated fats promote inflammation in the body which can then travel to the brain and disrupt its function. Brain inflammation is currently considered a leading theory of depression.
High saturated dairy foods include butter, cheese, cream, ice cream & whole milk.
Dairy can disrupt gut health
Dairy foods are associated with gut dysfunction and disruption of the friendly bacteria population in the digestive system.
The most common culprit is lactose, a type of sugar found in dairy. Post-weaning, there can be a reduced ability to fully break down lactose in the small intestine for successful absorption. Consequently, dairy foods can sit unabsorbed in the colon, encouraging unfriendly bacteria to grow, leading to bloating, discomfort, and an imbalanced gut bacteria population, known as dysbiosis.
Gut dysbiosis is another modern leading theory of mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. This is because the gut and brain communicate back and forth with gut bacteria possessing the ability to influence the nervous system and neurotransmitter production.
Milk contains the most lactose.
Dairy has addictive & allergenic qualities
Dairy has an original purpose to feed the young and maximise growth, and along with this is a soothing compound that promotes calmness element to pass from mother to infant.
Dairy contains a protein called casein, which possesses an opioid-like action that can interact with dopamine (reward & motivation) receptors (this may help explain why cheese can be addictive!). Some have also reported that casein promotes lowered levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with contentment.
Furthermore, it is also relatively common to have an unidentified dairy sensitivity or intolerance, these having also been implicated in mood disorders such as depression.
What about my calcium intake?
Although dairy is a rich source of calcium, it can be found in other foods too. Non-dairy calcium foods include:
✔️Small fish with bones (a great source!)
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