Can You Have A Withdrawal From Dairy?

Ditching dairy is becoming more common. Around 65% of the world has difficulty digesting lactose after infancy (per MedlinePlus). And there are many other reasons people go dairy-free, including allergies, sensitivities, or lifestyle preferences. However, many people are also hopping off the dairy train in the hope of obtaining health benefits.

According to Cosmopolitan, quitting dairy may help stabilize your mood and boost your energy. The idea is that skimping on dairy can lead you to become more intentional with your food choices. Nutritionist Frida Harju-Westman explained that dairy is also high in estrogen and progesterone, and when they mix with your own hormones, it may cause mood fluctuations. Getting rid of dairy can alleviate this.

Bidding adieu to dairy may also help with headaches and migraines, shares Insider. Cheese contains high amounts of tyramine. According to WebMD, tyramine-rich foods like aged cheeses (e.g. Swiss, Parmesan, cheddar, feta, and Muenster) can trigger migraines.

In addition, skipping dairy may help with Candida overgrowth since dairy can bring about inflammation, promoting bacterial growth (via Healthline). This food group is also on the list of foods to avoid for those following the Candida diet.

But what happens if you're accustomed to eating milk and cheese, then go cold turkey? Can you experience withdrawal? While you won't find this term in a medical textbook, dairy withdrawal is the theory that certain symptoms may pop up if you cut dairy out of your diet after eating it regularly. But is it actually research-backed?

Can you really have dairy withdrawal symptoms?

There is some indication that there may be a scientific basis for what people report as "withdrawal" or "detox" symptoms when giving up dairy. 

Dairy can be quite addicting, especially cheese. One 2015 study revealed that cheese has the ability to stimulate the brain's opioid receptors. Researchers explain this is because dairy products contain a chemical called casein which gives the cheese its addictive-type quality similar to that of drugs.

Another factor causing the symptoms that people attribute to withdrawal or detox might be vitamin deficiency. Believe it or not, "when you stop eating dairy, you might find that your immune system becomes considerably weaker. This may [be] because you are lacking the important vitamin B12," Harju-Westman explained. This may mean that getting sick more easily could be a symptom of giving up dairy. Other potential symptoms Harju-Westman noted are tiredness and difficulty sleeping. If you're thinking about going dairy-free, it's important to consult with your doctor first so you don't miss out on any important nutrients.