With reported health benefits ranging from clearer skin to improved digestion, the dairy-free diet is giving some people a whole new outlook on life.

By Lydia Gregovic, Photos courtesy of Kokonut Yogurt

With their sweet flavors and creamy textures, dairy products have long been a favorite of Americans. But recently, that’s been changing. Whether you struggle with a dairy allergy or just want a healthier way to enjoy all your favorite milky treats, going dairy-free is an alternative way to satisfy your stomach and your taste buds at the same time. And with more workplaces passing on pasteurized products, a dairy-free lifestyle may not be as out of reach as you think.

Eat this: dairy-free yogurt

Not that: traditional dairy yogurt

Says who: Erin Asaad, founder of Kokonut Yogurt, an Austin-based company specializing in dairy-free products in flavors ranging from bourbon vanilla and blueberry lavender to strawberry rose, which are all-natural and free of refined sugars, GMOs, preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Why: Despite yogurt’s widespread popularity, a 2010 study from the National Institutes of Health found about 65 percent of the world’s population has difficulties digesting milk and other dairy products. Even if you aren’t diagnosed as lactose intolerant, consumption of dairy can result in uncomfortable digestive issues, including constipation or painful stomach aches. But according to Asaad, the dangers of dairy extend far beyond digestion.

Breakout star: “Because dairy is so hard for our bodies to process, it can cause a number of…skin issues,” Asaad explains. “[Once I stopped consuming dairy products], I realized how much it had been affecting my skin, whether I was dealing with hives or breaking out.”

Cold season: “This is a big one for a lot of people. Dairy can cause a lot of congestion. … Personally, I’ve never slept better since I went off dairy,” Asaad says. “Problems like sinus issues, congestion, even allergies—a lot of those things can be attributed to the amount of dairy that we consume.”

Sugar rush: “Many yogurts, even some dairy-free ones, have a ton of sugar in them. With yogurt, you’re putting all these really healthy probiotics in your gut, but when you eat large amounts of refined sugars, it kind of combats the good bacteria you’re putting in there. So, one thing we really try to focus on is lowering the amount of sugar,” Asaad says. “We don’t put any refined sugar in our products.”

Probiotic power: “We focus on really packing in the probiotics. There’s about 10 billion cultures [of probiotics]per serving in our products and, when you compare that to most yogurts, many dairy yogurts don’t actually have a lot of probiotics per serving,” Asaad says. “When you combine that with the high amount of sugar [of dairy yogurts], you’re not really getting a probiotic benefit from your yogurt, which is one of the main reasons people consume yogurt in the first place.”



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