On July 10, Switch4Good Executive Director and Olympic silver medalist Dotsie Bausch traveled to our nation’s capital to offer expert commentary before the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
During her brief three-minute speaking allotment, Bausch spoke her truth as a dairy-free Olympian and supported her personal experience with scientific research to convince the committee that dairy is not a health food—in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Bausch educated the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: “Cows’ milk proteins—particularly casein, which makes up 80 percent of cows’ milk—have been shown to increase mucus production in the gut and respiratory tract. Impaired breathing, asthma, and a chronic runny nose can all be exacerbated by drinking cows’ milk.”
She continued, “By regularly consuming dairy products as a means of recovery fuel, an athlete’s acute inflammation and oxidative stress can become chronic, leading to prolonged recovery, muscle fatigue, cell damage, and even elevate one’s risk of chronic diseases.”
The Dietary Guidelines are highly influential—they govern the nutrition policies of all public institutions, from schools to hospitals, with the intention of helping to “prevent diet-related chronic diseases and promote overall health,” according to the USDA. Even non-government entities tend to refer to the Guidelines as a respected resource, and the industries that are included in the recommendations, such as dairy, use them to further advance their profit margins. Since dairy has always been included in the Guidelines—largely due to powerful lobbyist efforts—the national dairy industry has harnessed the power and trust of these recommendations and relently pushed its product onto the American people—including Olympic athletes.
“Even the United States Olympic Committee told me I should drink milk to stay strong and healthy because the dairy-funded studies told them so,” Bausch recounted to the Committee. “I became saddened and enraged that the dairy industry continued to use me and my peers as pawns in their marketing schemes for profit.”
Bausch concluded by requesting that dairy be removed as a food group within the upcoming dietary recommendations. While it seems like an impossible ask given dairy’s ironclad grip on our policy leaders, the notion is not entirely out of the question. Just this year, Canada released its own national dietary recommendations and excluded dairy as a food group for the first time in history. This move boldly set the stage for other nations to follow suit, and it is our hope that the US will do what is right for its constituents instead of its lobbyists and remove dairy from the Dietary Guidelines.