Aha Moments, Dairy, and Your Health

In this cheesy tale of self-discovery, a doctor’s ‘aha’ moments about dairy’s impact on health unfold. From coughs to colds, the article uncovers the surprising link between dairy consumption and respiratory issues. Through personal and patient experiences, readers learn the unexpected effects of ditching dairy, leading to improved well-being and fewer sneezes.

Occasionally, an “Aha” moment occurs in your life and things can’t go back to how they were before that moment.  For some reason, 2021 gave me more “aha” moments than I can count.  And I can’t go back to how they were before.

One of my “aha’s” was learning how severely my food of choice was making me sick.

I love cheese. 

I love cheese so much, I married a girl named Bri, named one of my kids Jack and came within a frog hair of naming my oldest child Colby.  I didn’t.  I thought it was a little … cheesy.  Sorry.

At the tender age of 51, I developed the same tickle in my throat and cough that wouldn’t go away that so many of my patients presented with.  Literally, half the patients in my ENT clinic presented with the same complaints:  a cough, a tickle in their throat that wouldn’t go away and the feeling that something was always stuck in their throat.

Many of them were very frightened they might have cancer or some horrible thing going on in their throats.  They had been treated with all sorts of drugs with no response.

When I looked in their throats with a flexible endoscope (which sounds much worse than it is) the typical exam was ridiculously normal, but when I touched the esophageal inlet with the tip of the scope, they almost always said, “that’s exactly the spot!  What is that?” 

“It’s your esophagus.  It’s irritated.  The question is, why?”

Frequently, these patients were heavy consumers of soda.  Many were just like me…they loved to eat cheese, milk, ice cream and yogurt.  When they withdrew from these products, many of them got better and the cough went away.  When they reversed course and started eating dairy products and soda pop, the cough and tickle came right back.  Mystery solved.

Then, it happened to me. The tickle in my throat that wouldn’t go away and a cough that kept up for days got the better of me.  I gave up soda years ago because I didn’t like how I felt when I drank it.  But cheese…that was my go-to.  I put it on everything.  That gooey goodness of melted cheese just couldn’t be topped.  And, it was so convenient to just grab some for lunch or a snack anytime.

It was a bitter pill to take my own medicine, but I gave up the cheese for a couple of weeks just to see what happened.  The cough went away almost immediately, and the tickle went away in a week.  When I changed course and started eating it again, both symptoms came back with a vengeance.  Mystery solved…again.  So, I gave it up.

Over the next few months, something else happened too.  I started losing weight without trying and the colds I was having every few weeks to every month stopped happening altogether.  I went a year without having a cold after I quit dairy products.  This was a big deal.  After a year of giving up dairy, I had lost 30 pounds without making any other changes than quitting the cheese, ice cream and yogurt.

They didn’t teach me any of this in med school.  But, when I was able to convince my patients to quit the soda and dairy, their lives changed just like mine.  One young guy in particular lost over 50 pounds just losing the dairy from his diet.  What we eat is a BIG deal, y’all.

I’ve since learned that the proteins in dairy products are designed to irritate the body of the baby mammal that is consuming the milk.  His body interprets that irritation as a signal to store the energy of that milk product as fat.  It’s a survival mechanism that has served mammals well for millions of years.  But have you noticed that of the 5,500 mammal species on the planet, only ONE continues to drink milk beyond infancy?  That would be US.

I know the product tastes good, but did you also know that almost every product that includes milk or milk proteins has a particular protein known as Apo A1?  That protein causes the antibodies present in our saliva and mucus membranes to stick together, rendering them useless to protect us from upper and lower respiratory viruses…like the viruses that cause the common cold.  Hence, why I was getting frequent colds when I ate my cheese and rarely got a cold when I didn’t consume dairy.  Yet another mystery solved.

Aha.  What we eat matters

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new health-related practice or program.