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Surprising Side Effects of Giving Up Milk, Says Dietitian

Cutting out cow’s milk from your diet can has some interesting effects on the body and everyday life.

As our world becomes more and more resourceful, we no longer have to rely on old-school ways of living. For example, when you walk towards the dairy section of the grocery store these days, there are going to be far more options than 2% or whole milk. And, with the increased popularity of dairy-free, alternative milk such as oat milk, almond milk, skim milk, soy milk, and more continue to rise, the want and even need for cow's milk continues to digress.

"Adults do not need milk," Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian on our medical expert board and founder of Real Nutrition. "Milk is not an essential ingredient in adult diets and these days there are many substitutes that are fortified with calcium and other vitamins you may have regularly gotten from milk."

Whether you enjoy drinking milk or not, it's not a necessity for a healthy lifestyle. It may offer up a great source of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D, but if you gather those nutrients from whole foods, you can still meet your daily requirement, Shapiro suggests.

There are some surprising effects of giving up milk completely that can affect both the mind and body. So, before you gulp down a glass, read on to be certain you can't benefit from cutting milk from your daily diet.

You'll likely see improvement in your skin.

better skin

Many people drink dairy products throughout their whole lives without knowing they may have an intolerance for them. Once you give up milk, "if you have a sensitivity that you don't realize, you might see improved skin, less acne or eczema," Shapiro says. While acne and skin conditions (eczema) are most commonly hereditary, some components of milk can also play a part.

A majority of dairy milk products in the US come from pregnant cows, which contain high levels of problem-causing hormones that can potentially contribute to acne, one study published in Dermato Endocrinol. The review explains how oily pores that foster acne (sebaceous gland) can be highly influenced by milk androgens and hormones, such as insulin and steroid hormones.

You may have a reaction.

bad milk reaction

Besides being lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, there are other allergies or medical conditions associated with consuming milk or daily products. Two of the most common conditions linked to cow's milk are Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) and Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE), according to, both of which have uncomfortable effects specifically on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Dairy products (like milk) are one of the biggest triggers of these allergies, due to the proteins and peptides they contain and how they may negatively interact with one's immune system.

You may experience weaker bones.

weaker bones

According to Shapiro, if you do end up cutting out cow's milk, and "you do not get calcium from other sources, then you may be missing out on a good source of calcium which can lead to brittle bones in some individuals."

The daily recommended amount of calcium varies from country to country, the BBC reports, but you can continue to keep your bones strong with a well-rounded diet, exercise, and including plenty of sources of vitamin D (get that sunshine!).

You'll have better overall gut health.

happy gut health

Eliminating milk from your diet might help manage many digestive problems and support better gut health. You may also experience less gas and bloating throughout the body, Shapiro says.

The lactose in milk can be difficult to digest, which is a major cause of bloating and feeling gassy. Also, when there is an excess amount of lactose in your body, you may develop poor gut symptoms—such as diarrhea—this is a result of your large intestine swelling.

You might experience immune system troubles.

sick woman

Milk won't be completely curing any illnesses anytime soon, however, it can benefit your body's functionality and ability to prevent you from getting sick. Dairy products carry crucial amounts of B12, which is necessary for fueling a strong immune system and supporting your body to fight off bacteria.

You'll have fewer mood changes.

mood swings

There are "60-some hormones in your average glass of milk," Dr. Mark Hyman writes, and that includes organic, raw, and bovine growth hormone-free milk. Due to the hormones in cow's milk, drinking it regularly can increase the natural hormones already in your own body and end up causing you to have mood changes. The body's necessary sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) are drastically put out of balance. There have been some studies that look at this effect, but they are clear that there needs to be more research done.

READ MOREOne Major Effect of Drinking Whole Milk, Say Experts

Jordan Summers-Marcouillier
Jordan Summers-Marcouillier was born and raised in San Jose, California and now works as a writer in New York, NY. Read more about Jordan