How Bad is Dairy?

A most intriguing comment on Tim Ferriss’s excellent post about how to sleep better:

To require less sleep and yet still feel awake, energetic and not sleep deprived in general:

The single biggest factor for me has been the elimination of all dairy products from my diet. I have experimented with this over 4 years now and it is clear the most benefit is achieved with the most radical approach to this. In other words, removing dairy products completely from my diet has the biggest benefit. Yes this means no chocolate, no products with whey in them, no milk, yoghurt etc etc. it’s also interesting to see how difficult this is to do, but the benefits are so astounding from an energetic lifestyle point of view that I do it for long periods of time at a stretch.

Huh. Cheese makes me sleepy, so much so that I use it to fall asleep on planes. I didn’t always understand this. Several years ago, I was in New York and bought expensive tickets to a Broadway show. Before the show I ate some cheese — samples at a store, maybe. During the show I fell asleep.

14 Responses to “How Bad is Dairy?”

  1. david Says:

    I never fall asleep after eating dairy…the sharp intestinal pains keep me awake!

    Oh, another reason to reconsider dairy is all they feed the cows now to keep them alive on the diet of corn that they were never meant to eat.

    Hmm…might be interesting for someone who can tolerate dairy to do some experiments with dairy from corn fed cows, “organic” non-drugged, but still corn fed cows, and grass-fed, non-drugged cows.

  2. Peter Says:

    Seems to me that some people are allergic/sensitive to dairy, and some aren’t. I can eat cheese without any noticeable effects. Of course the last time I ate cheese (the other night) it was made from milk produced by goats that I’ve met, and they eat mostly grass or whatever is growing in the pasture supplemented with organically-grown alfalfa.

  3. Mike Kenny Says:

    Huh, is milk meant to relax and put babies to sleep? Makes some intuitive sense.

  4. seth Says:

    yeah, great point, Mike.

  5. Caleb Says:

    casein (milk protein) has opiate-like qualities.

  6. david Says:

    Got Opium?

  7. Pearl Says:

    Cheese is and always will be the greatest creation on Earth, for me.

    It has never made me sleepy, rather it regularly makes me the happiest being imaginable, and I eat it whenever possible.

    I would only be willing to believe that it affects some negatively and other not, or perhaps that strengths of fermentation could play a role in negative effects; I recently read that strong fermentations can aggravate candidas.

    Perhaps it is opiate-like for me, although elimination from my diet upon moving to Japan did not make me energetic, it only made me incredibly grumpy. Reclaiming cheese made me happy once again. Cheese!

  8. Timothy Beneke Says:

    Fascinating — raises the whole question of the relationship between diet and sleep quality and need; and then is that a confound that influences all the correlational findings on which nutritional claims are based? We know that quality sleep is tied to good health…

  9. Aaron Blaisdell Says:

    My experiences mirror those of Pearl. Cheese keeps me awake and happy. Since reading Good Calories, Bad Calories about two months ago, I have dramatically increased my consumption of hard cheese, whole milk (organic, presumably corn-fed), cottage cheese, and yogurt. Likewise, I have dramatically reduced my consumption of most sugars, refined grains (still eat whole wheat bread and pasta), white rice, etc. I used to require a nap in the afternoon (after a meal containing a fair amount of carbs). No more! I feel FULL of energy, more so than ever in my life. I’ve always been a day dreamer in class, with a poor ability to control my mind wandering or feeling “hazy” or sluggish. I now RARELY experience these feelings of lethargy. Instead, I feel much more alert, awake, high-energy, up-beat, etc. I’m sure many people have adverse reactions to dairy, but not me.

    There seems to be overwhelming evidence for individual differences in how people react to dietary content. I actually used to think milk was an issue for me (for other reasons) and tried to eliminate it from my diet. At the same time I continued to consume carbs, including from refined sources in large quantity. I didn’t feel any better, though. The only change to significantly improve my health and well being has been to drastically reduce carbs, in particular refined carbs. Increasing my consumption of animal protein and fat, including lots of dairy has if anything helped (but it is difficult to say for sure since I made both changes at the same time).

  10. NICOLE Says:

    dairy products inhibit digestion-this is the major health concern. if you don’t want to give up meat or dairy, try organic or kosher products. the animals are killed as humanely as possible. additionally, on a spiritual level, if an animal is tortured prior to death, this can be be very traumatic. if you are consuming the remains of an abused animal, chances are you are also ingesting the trauma and suffering that the animal experienced.

  11. NICOLE Says:

    check out the book: skinny bitch. just google it. tons of nutrition info and pro-vegan resources

  12. k Says:

    cheese undoubtedly makes me sleepy, there’s a direct connection. i’m trying to figure it out that’s how i found this blog entry

  13. Vivek Says:

    Slept at around 11 pm last night. Woke up at 8 all fresh and chirpy. Ate 2 slices of cheese and a bowl of cereals and there I go!! Slept for 7 hours straight. And I realised something must be wrong- I googled it and I found this blog

  14. Eri Gentry Says:

    I have used yogurt (plan, fat-free) as a sleep-aid in the past, though its effects were not 1:1.

    Cheese tends to make me feel strange: not exactly sleepy but similar in that it makes me less able to think clearly (fuzzy mind, sometimes dizzy body – reminds me mostly of the effect from l-Tyrosine when I wasn’t used to it).

    Some cheeses (ones with bolder flavors, perhaps fat or mold) cause this effect more than others. For example, a benign cheese for me is low-fat mozzarella.

    A friend suggested a Tyramine sensitivity. No idea. Overall, I’m happy to avoid cheese :)