Sure, cheese is easy on the eyes and the tastebuds, but the niceties end there. Once cheese hits your stomach, its true colors show. No matter how smooth it goes down, the realities of cheese are too hard to swallow. Like an unhappy relationship, it feels great for a second but hurts you in the end. From stomach issues to skin problems to more serious health conditions, cheese is toxic. Here’s why you need to break up with cheese.
Cheese and lactose intolerance
Love is supposed to make your heart flutter, not your stomach. Sixty-five percent of the global population is lactose intolerant, with much higher rates (70-95 percent) seen in Black individuals, Asians, Latinx, Indigenious Americans, and Ashkenazi Jews. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, and in some severe cases, vomiting. These symptoms typically occur 30 minutes to two hours every single time a lactose intolerant individual consumes dairy. Many people don’t make the connection and accept that feeling these awful symptoms all the time is “normal.” Here’s the thing: lactose intolerance is normal, but eating cheese is not. The body is screaming, “Please, no more cheese!” and the bloat, gas, and other stomach issues are its way of communicating.
The downside of lactose intolerance is that there is no cure, and it only gets worse as you age (the older you get, the less lactase enzyme the body produces, which means your ability to digest lactose decreases). The upside is that you can completely get rid of the symptoms by breaking up with cheese (and other dairy products). The effect is almost immediate. Give up cheese and dairy for a few days, and you’ll definitely feel a difference in your gut.
Even those who aren’t lactose intolerant can still experience gastrointestinal distress after consuming cheese. In essence, it’s concentrated animal milk, which presents a host of issues—not to mention a ton of saturated and trans fat .
Before you rebound with lactose-free cheese, think twice. Like any bad relationship, it’s not just one thing that’s toxic. Keep reading to learn more about the negative effects of cheese.
Cheese and skin issues
There are many factors that contribute to skin issues like acne and eczema, and while dermatologists have yet to pin down conclusive evidence that demonstrate a causal relationship between diet and acne, cheese never helps these conditions. In fact, it may exacerbate them. Researchers postulate that the natural bovine hormones present in milk (milk does come from a pregnant cow, afterall) may have something to do with an increase in acne. In regards to eczema, the research gets a bit cloudy. If the eczema is a form of an allergic reaction (atopic dermatitis) to dairy, eliminating cheese and other dairy products will certainly reduce these splotchy patches of skin. However, while research has yet to be done on the causal relationship between cheese and eczema, we are encouraged by the anecdotal evidence we’ve heard over the years.
Cheese and fat
The only love cheese will ever give you is love handles. Cheese is a high-fat food because it is made with concentrated dairy. To put it in perspective, 1.5 ounces of natural cheese equates to a full eight-ounce serving of milk. (3) Honestly speaking, who strictly adheres to serving sizes, particularly when one-third cup of shredded cheese is all you get? We can guarantee that bean and cheese burrito or homemade mac and cheese has way more than that. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that cheese is the number one source of saturated fat in American diets. (4)
Beyond adding to your waistline, this excess fat can lead to serious internal problems. Excess fat constricts blood flow which could put one at a higher risk for heart disease. (5) Even if you innocently flirt with cheese from time to time—a pieces from the charcuterie board, feta crumbles on a salad, a piece of pizza—it can add up in far more than pounds.
Cheese and cancer
Yes, we’re bringing up the scary “C” word, and in this case it can stand for both cheese and cancer. Before you freak out, we’re not saying that if you’ve ever eaten cheese you are going to get cancer. Thankfully, it’s not that strong. However, a tidal wave of evidence has connected the consumption of dairy products to an increased risk of cancer—particularly hormone-dependent cancers such as breast, prostate, and ovarian. In a scientific review that examined 100 milk and health studies, Harvard researchers Walter Willett MD, DrPH and David Ludwig MD, PhD found a positive correlation dairy consumption and cancer. The duo suspect that the IGF-1 growth hormone found in all dairy could be the cause.