Dairy Products and Sinus Infections – Is the Connection a Myth?

Winters in Chicago are legendary-on the top of low temperatures you get freezing wind gusts and occasional slap in a face by a viscous snowstorm. So I was sure that my sinus infections were the outcome of living and working in the downtown of Windy City and maybe a little bit of bad luck or some strange genetic inclination to get sinus infection after every minor cold.

Doctors used to put me on different antibiotics, which constantly upset my stomach and made me feel even sicker and weaker. I felt miserable and seemed to have reached a dead end.

One day I’ve talked to my uncle, who is a scientist and researcher in Switzerland, and he told me my condition must have something to do with dairy products. It was more than a decade ago from now, so the idea that dairy products might cause sinus infection just blew my mind; it just was hard to believe. Didn’t our grandparents and great-grandparents drink milk and weren’t just fine… or were they?

I decided to give this idea a shot. After five days of no dairy products, I felt great. My congestion was relieved, but not completely gone. It took another week to see all symptoms of chronic congestion and sinus infection go away. Not a single pill swallowed!

So does this mean dairy products are actually not good for you? The answer is: It depends.

The ingredient to blame for chronic congestion and sinus infections is casein, present in all milk-based products. It encourages growth of Candida Albicans, a type of flora that tells your organism to produce nasal mucus.

Studies show that the largest amounts of casein are found in cheeses. Goat’s milk contains only trace amounts of allergenic casein and in general is easier to digest than cow’s milk. However, goat’s milk is not casein-free, as it is sometimes mistakenly suggested.

Of course, it is not easy to completely eliminate dairy products from your diet, especially that they are “hiding” in pastry, soups, ice cream and so many other things we can’t imagine our life without.

In most cases, if dairy products are, indeed, to blame for your sinus infections, cutting back on diary products, especially cheese, will produce a satisfactory result.

You should definitely experiment and find out which products have the most negative effect on your condition. Go a week without any dairy products and see if your sinus infection goes away. If it does, try adding something like a glass of milk if you like it, and anything else you would normally eat that contain dairy, but still avoid cheese.

If severe congestion returns, you have to make a decision whether you want to continue living with it, or eliminate most of dairy out of your diet. If not, gradually add some cheese and see how you feel. In most cases cheese is the biggest culprit and should trigger sinus infection or severe congestion.

And what about our ancestors, who supposedly consumed a lot of dairy and were OK? First of all, we do not know for sure whether they were OK, or they just assumed that many ailments were unavoidable part of life.

On the other hand, our great-grandparents were not bombarded by so many chemicals and pollutants as we are today, so maybe dairy did not trigger any allergies. In our case, we are swimming in pollution and man-made chemical-based materials, so you never know what could be a tipping point in making us sick.

And, by the way, we are the only mammals that continue to drink milk after they have been weaned.

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