What Role Should Dairy Play In Your Basketball Nutrition Plan?
Much has been said about the controversy over whether or not dairy is good for you. Actually, you could form your own opinion by perusing the internet but, buyers beware… you may not get the entire story with your research. It is common for writers, bloggers and researchers to encounter negative personal biases of certain foods based on their own bio-individuality. If ignored, this predisposition leads to the disservice to those who can benefit from what dairy has to offer. Instead, each one of us stands to benefit greatly when our individual make-up is taken into consideration. Dairy is much more than just the gallon of milk on a shelf. You have to consider where it came from, is it commercial/conventional or organic?
One important fact to consider is that dairy’s negative health issues deal with those products that have been produced from animals in commercial feedlots. Put another way, food that doesn’t come from the healthiest of animals. Cows that have been fed grains, injected with hormones and antibiotics and reside in poor living conditions, don’t provide the nutrition and health benefits compared to cows who have been grass-fed, are hormone and antibiotic-free and are free to roam about. Therefore, when I refer to the positive attributes of dairy, I will be talking about these happy, healthy animals.
The question of whether dairy is healthy or not is a more complex issue than just having a tummy ache after you ingest a dairy product. What, if anything, is the underlining cause to this problem? As you look deeper into the root cause of the problem, there appears to be a more insidious work at play.
Like many foods, there are pros and cons to eating them. Unfortunately, when the negative effects of foods are presented, they are typically given from a conventionally grown and produced perspective. Grain-fed, hormone and antibiotic injected animals produce less than healthy food. But, before we compare the benefits and consequences of dairy products, let’s take a look at what may be driving the ill-health effects of dairy.
So, What’s Causing All of the Dairy Ruckus?
Intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, occurs when a protein called zonulin is up-regulated in the small intestine and the intestine wall “opens” up allowing pathogens, toxins and food particles into the bloodstream. This triggers the auto-immune system to respond but it becomes overwhelmed with the task at hand. These intruders circulate throughout the body and settle in certain areas which lead to inflammation in that area. Isn’t that great?
So, what causes this process to occur? Cutting or eliminating each one of these will go a long way in healing your gut.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAID)
- Standard American Diet (SAD) – Gluten, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar.
- Environmental Factors
- Hormone Use
- Chronic Infections
Diseases and disorders linked to leaky gut include, but are not limited to:
- Depression and anxiety
- Autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, celiac, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS)
- Brain fog
- Chronic diarrhea and constipation
Do I have your attention, yet? Typically, people who eat/drink conventionally produced dairy, tend to eat conventionally produced other foods as well. They are also more inclined to eat the standard American diet (SAD), a low-fat, high-wheat/grain, high-refined carbohydrate, high-processed food diet. This is a perfect scenario for leaky gut. It provides the environment for a system not ready to accept a commercially grown dairy product or anything else for that matter.
The following list will help you sift through some of the confusion that is brought about with the dairy controversy.
PROS VS CONS OF DAIRY
A Good Energy Source for Basketball.
Like with all foods, we should consider the sugar content of each dairy product we eat in order to assess its healthiness. Although it is true that added refined sugar in processed foods is a major contributor to the chronic illness, obesity epidemic and other maladies that we see throughout our country today, we can still benefit from its energy producing qualities in from real food sources in time of high energy demand, like playing basketball. It is best used when consumed as a pre- or post-workout meal so it can be used as immediate energy or to replenish glycogen stores (stored glucose in the blood,liver and muscles). On days where energy is not in as much demand, meaning less energy is expended, a lower carbohydrate intake is recommended because of its insulin- raising effects. Insulin, the fat storage hormone, is secreted by the pancreas to carry blood sugar (glucose) to muscle and fat cells to be used later for energy. As more sugar is consumed, more is stored in our fat cells (in the form of triglycerides), leading to weight gain and increased triglyceride levels. By consuming dairy products that contain sugar only on basketball playing days, you reduce the amount of sugar that increases weight and leads to health problems.
Contains Whey Protein (High Quality Animal Protein) for Rebuilding and Repairing Muscle.
Not only does whey protein protect against cancer, but its complete protein (animal) makeup enhances muscular strength and size, a necessity for developing basketball players.
Protects Against Heart Disease.
Research indicates that people who eat the most full-fat dairy have a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular death than those who eat less of it. (1) In another study, researchers found a fifty percent reduced risk of having a heart attack in people who consumed full- fat, grass-fed dairy. Grass-fed dairy contains five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than its commercially produced counterpart. CLA is a healthy fat that is thought to be one of the driving forces behind the health benefits of grass-fed dairy products. (2)
In a study performed on grass-fed dairy cows greater amounts of vitamins A, E and beta- carotene in butter than from commercial feedlot cows. (3) Vitamin K2, a lesser known orm of vitamin K, is found in abundance in full-fat, grass-fed dairy products. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and therefore, helps prevent heart attacks. Vitamin K2 directs calcium to the hard tissues where it belongs and away from arteries and soft tissue. Put another way, it helps prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.
CONS (The issue with the CONS is that the reason for the intolerance and allergies, in most cases, is a result of having leaky gut).
Depending upon who you listen to, 50-75% of adults are sensitive to dairy products. People who lack the enzyme, lactase, needed to breakdown the milk sugar, lactose, will have gastric distress if they are consuming pasteurized milk. The process of pasteurization kills the naturally occurring lactase in raw milk. (4) Lactose intolerance increases with age therefore drinking raw milk (milk that hasn’t been pasteurized and still contains its natural lactase) becomes a better option.
Milk Protein Allergies.
People’s immune systems that have leaky gut are more likely to react to elements in milk, although it may still be possible to be free of leaky gut and have milk protein allergies. (4) Only 2.5% of the 3-year-old and younger crowd suffers from milk allergies, with most children outgrowing it.
An exception to having leaky gut as a precursor for dairy sensitivities would be that of gluten intolerance. These people are more likely to react adversely to milk because of the cross-reactivity of milk proteins and gluten. (4)
In nutrition, we tend to isolate certain compounds, nutrients and even food groups without considering the synergistic effects that they have with other elements in food. This leads to eliminating essential nutrients from our diet and can have dire consequences on our health or we can be cheating ourselves out of essential nutrients that our body needs for optimal health. If “leaky gut” is the guilty party (which I think it is in most cases) to many of the diseases and gastrointestinal disorders that we see today, wouldn’t we be better off healing our gut first before we eliminate dairy which has much to offer us?
So, if you are having problems with dairy address potential gut issues first. Try eliminating all grains, sugar and vegetable oils, i.e. processed foods, and focus on a real food, nutrient-dense diet. Once you have done this, remove all dairy products for 3 or 4 weeks and then slowly add each dairy full-fat, grass-fed item back in one by one. In his book, Your Personal Paleo Code, Chris Kresser lists dairy items in the proper re-entry order, from the least amount of lactose to the most. The order is as follows: 1. Ghee (clarified butter); 2. Butter; 3. Kefir (fermented milk); 4. Yogurt; 5. Hard Cheese Before Soft Cheese; 6. Full-Fat Heavy Whipping Cream; 7. Sour Cream; 8. Ice Cream (for lactose content ONLY); 9. Buttermilk; 10. Milk (whole, 2 percent, 1 percent, nonfat). (5) This will not only go a long way in removing your discomfort and other health issues, but it will also help identify the dairy offender.
Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go pour myself a glass of grass-fed, organic, hormone and antibiotic-free whole (full-fat) milk before my workout this afternoon. Cheers!
- Guyenet, Stephan. “Full-fat Dairy for Cardiovascular Health??” www.wholehealthsource.blogspot.com. 9 April, 2010. 18 April, 2015.
- Smt, Liesbeth A., Ana Baylin, and Hannia Campos. 2010. Conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of myocardial infarction. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published, May 12, 2010.
- Searles, SK et al, “Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and Carotene Contents of Alberta Butter.” Journal of Dairy Science, 53(2) 150-154.
- Kresser, Chris. “Dairy: food of the Gods or neolithic agent of disease?” www.chriskresser.com. 8 February, 2011. 18 April, 2015.
- Kresser, Chris. Your Personal Paleo Code: the 3-step plan to lose weight, reverse disease, and stay fit and healthy for life. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, Inc. 2013. Print.
Rusty Gregory, MS, CSCS, CWC CES, is the author of Self-Care Reform: How to Discover Your Own Path to Good Health and Living Wheat-Free for Dummies a). He is a personal fitness trainer, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a Cancer Exercise Specialist, a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and a dailyRx Contributing Expert. He received his master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Michigan.
Rusty is also a Certified Health and Wellness Coach. He helps people make lasting behavioral changes that lead them to become their best selves. Coaching has allowed him to become more empathetic with people and their wellness “issues.” Rusty has seen many realize a higher level of wellness and begin to live life with more depth, meaning and purpose. He uses this approach in Self-Care Reform: How to Discover Your Own Path to Good Health to motivate people to action.
Rusty’s desire to teach others about eating healthy culminated in the writing of Living Wheat-Free for Dummies. The title can be a bit misleading. It extends beyond the removal of wheat from the diet and into the grain-free, low-carb and vegetable oil-free lifestyle that would benefit us all. He has seen many people dramatically improve their health by eliminating the inflammatory foods that create the most damage to the human body. To learn more, visit www.RustyGregory.com.
Note from the publisher: We had a chance to meet Rusty Gregory while training his son David and daughter Lauren in our player development programs. Like so many of the parents in our gym, Rusty is humble but extremely accomplished and expert in his field. When I found about Rusty’s expertise, I asked him to help me address this hot debate which we had already explored the con sides of. Rusty went above and beyond my request and gave us some great insight into the topic. We look forward to sharing his insight again and highly encourage anyone committed to exploring wellness, physical training and physical recovery from cancer to check out how David can help you.