Stopping dairy can improve these period problems quite significantly, but not always. It depends on the person, and it depends on the type of dairy.
So, what is in dairy that may be driving the issue behind hormonal disruption leading to these symptoms and conditions, which can really affect a female’s quality of life? Well the answer is probably A1 casein protein found in cow’s dairy, which in some women can be pro-inflammatory.
In some women, the A1 casein can form the inflammatory opiate casomorphin or BCM7.
BCM7 then stimulates inflammatory cytokines and mast cells, which affects periods because the uterine lining is full of mast cells. Uterine mast cells release histamine and they release heparin, which are inflammatory in nature. Through various mechanisms this can cause symptoms such as heavy periods, painful periods, hormonal acne, and PMS (e.g. mood disturbances, cravings, fluid retention, breast tenderness, hair loss, exacerbation of existing gut and skin issues). It can also exacerbate symptoms of endometriosis and fibroids.
Ultimately, mast cells, histamine, and inflammation can profoundly disturb periods. And that’s why dairy can cause period problems.
Not every person
Some people don’t have the digestive enzyme that cleaves A1 casein to form BCM7. That means some people can tolerate cow’s dairy in a way that won’t affect their period.
Not every type of dairy
There’s A1 casein in the milk of Holstein (Friesian) cows, which are the dairy cows in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. There’s no A1 casein in the milk (and milk products – cheese, cream, yoghurt) of Jersey cows, goats, and sheep. Instead, there’s only A2 casein, which does not seem to be a problem for periods or hormones.
How do you know if you have a problem with dairy?
Firstly, it must be noted that dairy is not the only thing that can affect periods, there are many diet and lifestyle factors as well, which is why adhering to healthy diet and lifestyle habits are also important.
If you suffer from the above period problems, it is essential that you adhere to a good diet and lifestyle (e.g. whole-food diet, getting quality sleep, managing stress, adequate exercise, reducing alcohol, no smoking etc.). Evidence based herbal and nutritional supplementation can also help with period problems and hormonal disruption.
In the backdrop of a good diet and lifestyle, as well as evidence based supplementation, it may be worth going off dairy for 1-2 months to see how it affects your period. If it improves your symptoms, it is likely you have an issue with dairy. Food removal and reintroduction is the gold standard to seeing if you have allergies or intolerances to foods.
Also, if you suffered recurrent tonsillitis or chest infections as a kid, then you likely have a problem with A1 casein. You’ve outgrown those immune problems, but now the same dairy sensitivity is affecting your periods.
If you do have an issue with dairy and need to remove it, make sure you are eating lots of other whole food sources of calcium such as green vegetables, almonds, salmon with bones, and goat and sheep dairy (as long as you don’t have an issue with lactose). Some people, due to various causes in the digestive system, have trouble digesting the sugar content of dairy called lactose. Lactose intolerance, or the inability to breakdown lactose effectively usually leads to symptoms such as gas, bloating, wind, loose stools and reflux. Not period problems.
As mentioned above, removing dairy should occur in the backdrop of good diet and lifestyle habits and evidence based supplementation that supports healthy hormone balance. Call Oak Health today or book an appointment online to find out how practical, sustainable and evidence based diet and lifestyle changes, as well as herbal and nutritional supplementation can be used to address the underlying causes of your hormone imbalances leading to long term symptoms resolve.
You may also want to enquire about the 6 week hormone re-balance treatment program.
For more information on Oak Health’s approach to treating hormone imbalances, check out the treatment pages here.