The Strange Reason This Gut Expert & MD Avoids Dairy In The Spring
Springtime comes with a variety of shifts: As your body adjusts to the changes in sun, temperature, food, and habits, it's important to edit your routine to meet those natural ebbs and flows. You might, say, switch up your skin care routine, give your home a proper dusting, or celebrate the passage of time with a special ritual.
As for board-certified internist Vincent Pedre, M.D., author of The GutSMART Protocol? He cools it on the dairy. "I've become a seasonal dairy eater," he shares on the mindbodygreen podcast. "I avoid dairy [in the] fall, winter, and spring." Below, he explains his logic.
Why a gut expert eats dairy seasonally
After years of experimentation, he has found that dairy revs up his inflammation levels during spring, fall, and winter—but in the summer he feels totally fine. "I do love cheese, and I love certain dairy-related desserts and things," he notes but especially during the springtime, that gut inflammation doesn't make him feel his best.
Now, the research on dairy and inflammation is quite mixed. Some report that dairy foods do not 1increase biomarkers of chronic inflammation1, while others have linked milk consumption to an increase in IGF-1 levels2 and acne (all acne stems from inflammation, for what it's worth).
The point is that everyone's guts are different—and according to Pedre, your own gut is a dynamic system that can change and evolve throughout the year. So just because you can generally tolerate dairy doesn't mean you're completely off the hook; make sure you keep listening to your body's cues.
"I think it's important not just to know what your gut type is and what you can tolerate but to also become really aware that not all symptoms that are being triggered by your gut are going to be in your gut," explains Pedre. A sensitivity to dairy can totally manifest as bloat, but it could also show up as congestion3. "It's so important to start to see those patterns because they can be super subtle," he adds.
Should you be a seasonal dairy eater?
We repeat: Everyone's bodies are different, and you should always listen to your own signals. If you feel just fine eating high-quality dairy products, please, proceed! Pedre just wants to make sure you know that dairy intolerances can show up in subtle, sneaky ways—not all of them having to do with digestion itself.
That also doesn't mean you should absolutely start introducing dairy in the summer months. Always talk to a health care professional before making any tweaks to your diet, especially if you have a sensitivity or allergy. But if you've ever noticed that you can handle—or even crave—dairy products during certain times of the year, you and Pedre might have something in common.
If you want to focus on gut health simultaneously, perhaps opt for full-fat yogurt or kefir—a fermented dairy product similar to yogurt. Both are high in probiotics4 that can contribute to better gut health. Or you can always invest in a dairy-free probiotic supplement that contains clinically tested strains to help ease bloating, aid digestion, and holistically support your gut microbiome. Here are our favorite formulas if you want to get started.
Some people simply feel better eating dairy on a seasonal schedule. If that sounds like you, you're not alone: Pedre personally avoids dairy in the spring, fall, and winter, as it tends to rev up his inflammation levels during those times of year. The point being: Your body is dynamic, so don't be afraid to tweak your nutrition habits depending on how you feel. You are always the expert in your own body—so do what feels right!
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.