Short answer: only you know the answer.
(Most people do not read to the bottom of things. I like to provide the short answer so that everyone gets something.)
Now, let’s dive in and find out how to figure out what works for you.
You’ve got to experiment, plain and simple. Self-experimentation with food is scientific, especially if you track your results.
Are you looking to put on muscle? Well, guess what: dairy works. Yes, those old-school books on bodybuilding that recommend drinking Rocky IV-style amounts of milk were right. If you drink a lot of milk, and lift weights properly (like, squat, a lot, with a proven program) then, you are going to get bigger.
Are you looking to reduce inflammation? Well, guess what: removing dairy works. Not necessarily for all people, but, it is one of the big culprits.
Both of those are goals of mine, and, I have tried all three combinations: no dairy at all, lots of dairy, and in-between. For me, I do better with close to zero dairy, because it messes with my digestive system.
Quick scientific tip: you need to inspect the quality of your bowel movements, as well as take note of their frequency, before, during, and after dietary changes. If you think that’s gross, then I can’t help you.
So your goals matter. Even though I just told you that I do better off dairy, if I wanted to gain weight over a 2-3 month period, I would add dairy back in.
Experiments can also be done via removal. The important thing is that you set a good period of time, such as 30 days, and take notes. Notes don’t have to be long, but they should cover, roughly: what you were eating before & after, plus how you feel before, during, and after.
PROS & CONS OF DAIRY
Vitamins & minerals: dairy contains calcium, potassium, & magnesium.
Your ancestry matters: Millions of northern Europeans and Indian people thrived on dairy for many years.
The conventional dairy farming industry is scary and disgusting.
Many people don’t digest dairy well.
Inflammation is a potentially serious problem.
TYPES OF DAIRY & NON DAIRY
Choose the highest quality if consuming dairy: organic + grass-fed.
Plus, there are versions of organic, grass-fed, whole milk now that have the lactose removed. There is also milk made from heritage breed (Guernsey) cows. You may do better with fermented dairy, such as kefir.
Stay away from highly processed dairy. I’m not even sure if some of those things are real food.
If you’re reducing or removing dairy: there are so many good options out there today. It’s amazing. Just read the ingredients, please.
In fact, there are so many non-dairy yogurts, milks, and cheeses, that it’s confusing. So, avoid those with lots of sugar, or other ingredients you don’t understand.
I buy almond milk without carrageenan. Even though the science is no definitive on that, I’d just as soon avoid it.
Feel free to comment of PM me with questions about products or brands.
It’s unlikely that you fall at the far end of either extreme.
Should you never have even one bite of organic, aged, hard pecorino cheese again? Probably not.
Should you chug a gallon of milk every day? I’m not going to recommend that one either.
Are there enough good dairy choices out there for you to get good nutritional value and stay in balance? Yes.
Are there enough good non-dairy options for you if you’re vegan, allergic, or intolerant, so that you can enjoy every meal – and get your vitamins? Yes.
So my answer is, ‘yes’. To everything that works for you.