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May 29, 2012

Food For Thought

Dairy On The Food Guide Is Discriminatory

Seventy percent of the world’s population cannot digest dairy properly. 1 They simply don’t possess the necessary digestive factors.

There is a sugar exclusively found in dairy called lactose. In order to break lactose down into  smaller units (glucose and galactose) the production of an enzyme called lactase is necessary.

When babies are born they have the unique ability to digest lactose in breast milk. By age five the child’s ability to digest lactose begins to decrease. A small portion of the population however is able to maintain the ability to digest milk sugar after infancy. Most people remain lactose intolerant. (See chart below). 1

What Are The Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?

There are various symptoms that result from lactose intolerance. They are abdominal cramps, gas, nausea, bloating and diarrhea. These symptoms can usually be prevented by taking a lactase enzyme when consuming dairy. 2

Why Is Dairy On Both the US and Canada Food Guides?

The food guides are not based on sound research or optimal health. The guides are influenced by “big food” and clearly don’t have consumer’s best interest in mind. (If you want to learn more about this, read the book What to Eat by Luise Light. She is a former director of dietary guidance and nutrition education at the USDA.)

The US and Canada food guides are both discriminatory and misleading. The guides lead people to believe that dairy is the only source of calcium, and that it is impossible to attain sufficient dietary calcium levels from non-dairy sources. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Canada Food Guide

I recently read an article written in  CMAJ by Dr. Marla Shapiro M.D., promoting dairy as a source of calcium. Can you guess who sponsored the article? Yes, it was the Dairy Farmers of Canada. 3

Where Can I get My Calcium?

There are many sources other than dairy to get calcium. After all where do cows get their calcium? (Think about that for a moment).

Some great sources of calcium are rhubarb, tahini (sesame seeds), kale, almonds, spinach, sardines, kelp and figs.

– Josh


  1. Maha LK, Escott-Strump S. Food Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Philedalphia, Pa: W.B. Saunders. 1996:625-626
  2. Barillas  C, Solomons NW. Effective reduction of lactose maldigestion in preschool children by direct addition of beta-galactosidases to milk at mealtime. Pediatrics. 1987;79:766-772.
  3. Shapiro, Marla. Calcium supplements and cardiovascular disease. CMAJ. 2012:184(8);907.