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Dairy and Psoriasis

Dairy and Psoriasis

Why most dairy products trigger psoriasis flareups and Should you avoid all types of Dairy?

We are told that dairy is good for us because it provides the right amount of bone-building nutrients, specifically calciumvitamin D, protein, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B12 and zinc. However, when it comes to skin conditions and gut-related problems, experiences show the opposite. Especially for psoriasis, milk and unfermented milk products have proven to be a big trigger, whereas fermented varieties such as probiotic yoghurt and kefir seem beneficial.

6 Reasons to avoid most dairy products

Although dairy products are on top of the “foods to avoid” list of almost all psoriasis diet books and articles, there are no recent research or study dedicated to establishing the link between dairy and psoriasis, and in general, the subject of a dairy link to diseases is controversial and understudied. Therefore, we searched through general studies connected to dairy. Here are the top logical reasons why dairy could be triggering psoriasis flareups and why you should not be sad about ditching dairy.

1) Milk Sugar may Encourage Bad Bacteria Overgrowth

Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar found in milk and milk products. In theory, lactose in milk feed pathogens (disease-causing bacteria) like regular sugar does. This theory is not supported by scientific evidence, but in practice, we can see that Diets designed to combat; candida, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and autoimmune conditions (AIP diet) restrict milk and other milk products, which contributes to the effectiveness of those diets and leads to improvement of those conditions. [1][2]

Some of those diets, however, highly encourage the consumption of probiotic yoghurt and kefir because, during fermentation, lactose changes into lactic acid with the help of lactic acid bacteria, which creates an acidic, low-oxygen environment that encourages the growth of good bacteria and prevents other microorganisms’ growth, which leads us to believe that lactose – dairy sugar could be the culprit. [3][4]

2) Milk and unfermented milk products may Worsen Inflammation

Psoriasis is classified as an immune-mediated inflammatory condition, and milk and milk products trigger flare-ups in psoriasis and worsen joint inflammation in psoriatic arthritis and other inflammatory health conditions. This could also be because of a high level of protein casein. In fact, a study by Sun Jianqin et al. found that milk containing A1 β-casein promoted intestinal inflammation and worsened gastrointestinal symptoms. [5]

3) Milk is acid forming

It is worth pointing out that most Psoriasis triggers; including stress, and the majority of the foods that are listed as triggers are acid-forming, so is milk and unfermented milk products such as cream, ice cream, and most cheeses are acid-forming as well, whereas fermented dairy such as yoghurt and kefir are alkaline-forming despite having low pH levels. [6][7]

Note: The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs less than 7 are acidic, while pHs greater than 7 is alkaline. However, not all low pH foods are acid-forming; some of the acid-forming foods actually have a higher pH.

4) Be aware of lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem affecting up to 70% of people around the world. When someone is lactose intolerant, their small intestine does not make enough lactase which is a digestive enzyme that is essential to digest lactose. As a result, they cannot fully digest lactose and may have discomfort with bloating, gas and even diarrhoea.

Lactose intolerance is usually harmless, except it creates discomfort, so you might be lactose intolerant and not even know It. Anyone can have lactose intolerance, some people have it since birth and others can develop it as they age. Most people with lactose intolerance can still consume small amounts of fermented varieties of dairy products such as greek yoghurt, kefir and feta cheese. Treatment of lactose intolerance is fairly simple, avoid milk and milk products that give you discomfort with gas and bloating.

5) Dairy farming went large-scale and wrong

Megadairies are driving smaller traditional dairy farms out of business and unfortunately, dairy in stores today does not come from happy farms where cows eat grass and roam freely but, mainly from those large commercial megadairy farms. [8]

  • What is Megadairy / Factory Farm?
    • A dairy operation housing 1000+ cows in confinement. The technical term is Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation or CAFO.
  • What is wrong with Megadairy farms?
    • Restrictive housing systems: Cows are kept in zero-grazing sheds, which means the cows spend their lives in these sheds and are never allowed out to graze in a field. In unnatural, overcrowded and poorly ventilated conditions, cows are more likely to suffer from heat stress and body stress from lack of movement, and stress can make them prone to all kinds of health problems. Consequently, it affects the milk quality and nutritional value.
    • Poor nutrition: Cows in these commercial farms are fed mostly grains, which is unnatural for ruminants and they can’t digest without the help of digestion feed supplements. The ruminant version of heartburn, acidosis is typically sparked by eating feed grains high in starch or sugar, which also results in a drop in pH levels.
    • Forced re-impregnation: Like humans, cows only produce milk after they have given birth, so cows in dairy production are forced to become pregnant nearly every year. Unfortunately, all commercial dairy farming involve forcibly impregnating cows and the process is disturbing.
    • Overproduction of milk: Cows are given bovine somatotropin (bST), which is a growth hormone approved by FDA to increase milk production in dairy cows. If in traditional dairy farming cows are milked once a day, but in megadairies, growth hormone boosts the milking frequency to three times a day. Frequent milking can lead to a very common condition called “mastitis” which is a painful inflammation of the udder. It is estimated that 30-50 per cent of dairy cows suffer from this ailment.

6) All Grain-fed and Nonorganic dairy contain Hormones and Antibiotics

Cow’s milk contains over 60 different naturally occurring hormones. Additionally, cows are given growth hormones such as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production. Mass production of milk stresses cows to unnaturally high levels, and as a result, cow’s milk may contain higher levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. [9]

Also, as mentioned above, dairy cows often suffer from mastitis, which is an inflammation of the mammary gland generally associated with intramammary infection. Treatment of mastitis requires antibiotics administration, which then may result in antibiotics residue in the milk we consume. Potential effects of antibiotic residues on public health may include; antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, and disturbances in the normal intestinal environment. [10][11]

Should you avoid dairy altogether if you have psoriasis?

Dairy is a well-known trigger, and elimination helps heal and reduce inflammation. To recognize the negative effects on your psoriasis, you can eliminate milk and milk products for a period of at least one month. Most people who eliminate dairy see great results and usually don’t reintroduce or keep their consumption to a very minimum.

Fermented dairy such as probiotic yoghurt and kefir could be an exception and safe to consume to support gut health. However, you are the only one who can decide whether it is good for you or not through elimination and reintroduction.

What if you can’t say no to dairy?

Try plant-based substitutes. Many milk substitutes have lesser calories than cows milk, less fat, less sugar, less sodium, and, some of them contain more minerals and vitamins. Here are some great alternatives:

  • Coconut milk
  • Rice milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Cashew Milk
  • Oat Milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Dairy-free ice cream
  • Dairy-free yoghurt
  • Vegan sour cream
  • Vegan cheese

When choosing milk Alternatives, read the labels and watch out for sugars, sodium and preservatives. Soy milk is not listed because soy is also one of the most common allergens that people may be intolerant to or be sensitive to as well and most of the soy products comes from the genetically modified (GMO) crop. If you have no soy allergies, soy milk from the organic section could be an option too.

If you still can’t give up cows milk products, go Organic and free-range dairy preferably from small local farms. USDA Organic labels mean that food labelled must contain at least 95% organic ingredients with NO synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, biotechnology, synthetic ingredients or irradiation used in production or processing.


[1]   “Foods To Avoid On The Candida Diet” by Lisa Richards, CNC   Reviewed by Dr Eric Wood, ND. April 19, 2019

[2] “The Leaky Gut Diet and Treatment Plan, Including Top Gut Foods” by Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DMN, CNS. January 7, 2021

[3] Kok, Car Reen, and Robert Hutkins. “Yogurt and other fermented foods as sources of health-promoting bacteria.” Nutrition reviews vol. 76,Suppl 1 (2018): 4-15. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuy056

[4] National Research Council (US) Panel on the Applications of Biotechnology to Fermented Foods: Report of an Ad Hoc Panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1992. 5

[5] Jianqin, Sun et al. “Effects of milk containing only A2 beta-casein versus milk containing both A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins on gastrointestinal physiology, symptoms of discomfort, and cognitive behaviour of people with self-reported intolerance to traditional cows’ milk.” Nutrition journal vol. 15 35. 2 Apr. 2016, doi:10.1186/s12937-016-0147-z

[6] Robey, Ian Forrest. “Examining the relationship between diet-induced acidosis and cancer.” Nutrition & metabolism vol. 9,1 72. 1 Aug. 2012, doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-72

[7] Thoreux, K et al. “Diet supplemented with yoghurt or milk fermented by Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001 stimulates growth and brush-border enzyme activities in mouse small intestine.” Digestion vol. 59,4 (1998): 349-59. doi:10.1159/000007514

[8] Schmalzried HD, Fallon LF Jr. Proposed mega-dairies and quality-of-life concerns: using public health practices to engage neighbours. Public Health Rep. 2010;125(5):754-758. doi:10.1177/003335491012500518

[9] Takeshi Ito, Nobuyoshi Aoki, Akihisa Tsuchiya, Satoru Kaneko, Kiyoshi Akiyama, Katsuji Uetake, Koji Suzuki, “Detection of Stress Hormone in the Milk for Animal Welfare Using QCM Method”Journal of Sensors, vol. 2017, Article ID 6486891, 7 pages, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6486891

[10] Sachi, Sabbya et al. “Antibiotic residues in milk: Past, present, and future.” Journal of advanced veterinary and animal research vol. 6,3 315-332. 11 Jul. 2019, doi:10.5455/javar.2019.f350

[11] Beyene T (2016) Veterinary Drug Residues in Food-animal Products: Its Risk Factors and Potential Effects on Public Health . J Veterinar Sci Technol 7: 285. doi:10.4172/2157-7579.1000285

Disclaimer: Dear reader, any and all the content on OffPsoriasis.com Is created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

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