Does dairy cause you digestive upset? You're not alone!
An individual may have three different types of reactions to dairy products:
Let's discuss each...
According to FoodAllergy.org, an allergy to cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in infants and young children. A food allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a specific food protein. In dairy products, those specific proteins are casein and whey. When eaten, it can trigger an allergic reaction that may include symptoms from mild symptoms (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) to severe symptoms (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, and even death). The federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires that all packaged food products sold in the U.S. that contain milk as an ingredient must list the word “Milk” on the label.
Milk proteins from sheep and goats have a somewhat different type of casein protein that may not be as allergenic to humans. (The milks do still contain lactose, however.) Camel and donkey milk is also a healthy alternative to cow's milk and is widely available in Rajasthan. Pick me up some the next time you visit there!! =)
Unlike food allergies, a food intolerance does not involve the immune system. People who have lactose intolerance are missing the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. Therefore, lactose-intolerant individuals are unable to digest dairy foods. They may experience symptoms such as nausea, cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea. In addition, some individuals may have skin issues or excess mucous and congestion. Lactose intolerance quite commonly develops between the ages of 2 and 5 in childhood, although it can happen anytime and can come on gradually or suddenly.
GoDairyFree.org is a fantastic resource for lactose intolerance information. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), between 30 and 50 million people in the United States are lactose intolerant (up to 1 in every 6 people). They report the incidence of lactose intolerance in the United States:
For a full list of foods that may contain milk, including unexpected sources, click HERE.
The protein casein found in dairy is very similar in molecular structure to the proteins found in gluten. In the case of cross-reactivity, the body treats both proteins with an immune response because it does not differentiate between them. According to Dr. Amy Myers, 50% of people who are gluten intolerant are casein intolerant as well. Therefore, many people require a diet that is both gluten-free and dairy-free.
Jenny Yelle, MHNE Holistic Wellness Educator
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