Should you go Dairy Free?

January 15, 2018
Lyndall McAlpine

Other than gluten, there are few foods as controversial as dairy.

There are definitely some people who say you need it,  there’s are others who say to avoid it.

But no one disputes that some people react to it, and by “react” I mean both intolerances and allergies.

Dairy is one of those foods that many people seem to have problems with, either with an allergic reaction or more commonly (estimating up to a whopping 75% of adults) being lactose intolerant.

Symptoms can include: abdominal pain, discomfort, and nausea; embarrassing symptoms like flatulence and diarrhea; muscle or joint pain, headaches, exhaustion; nasal congestion and mucus (phlegm); and skin symptoms like rashes and eczema and even belly fat.

Let’s talk about the main components of milk that people react to: lactose, casein and whey.

Lactose intolerance

Lactose is the carbohydrate “milk sugar” naturally found in most dairy products.

The lactase enzyme, which is naturally released from your intestine as one of your digestive enzymes, breaks down the lactose sugar in the gut.

People with lactose intolerance lack this lactase enzyme, the lactose doesn’t get broken down the way it should and the undigested lactose ends up being food for the resident gut microbes. As they ferment the lactose, they create gases that cause bloating, flatulence, pain, and sometimes diarrhea.

Lactose is in lower amounts in fermented dairy (e.g. cheese & yogurt) and butter and you can now easily access lactose-free products which are treated with the enzyme “lactase” to break down the lactose before you ingest it.

Steering clear of lactose however isn’t that easy as it’s added to other foods like baked goods, soups and sauces, and is even a common ingredient in medications and supplements.

So if you have symptoms of lactose intolerance, keep an eye on food, medication, and supplement labels.

Milk protein (casein & whey) allergy

Milk is a known, and common, food allergen.

So, what are the allergens in milk? You’ve heard of “curds and whey?” Well, these are the two main proteins in milk. The solid bits are the curds (made of casein), and the liquid is the dissolved whey.

Unlike lactose intolerance, casein and whey can cause an actual immune response. It’s an allergy, and this immune response can cause inflammation. We don’t know how many people have these milk allergies, but most estimates put it far below that of “lactose intolerance”.

Like lactose, these allergenic milk proteins can be found in other products too. They’re not just in dairy but are often in protein powders as well (have you heard of “whey” protein powders?).

Some of the symptoms of milk protein allergy differ from that of lactose intolerance; things like nasal congestion and mucus (phlegm) are more common here. Casein also seems to be linked with belly fat.

Like lactose intolerance, if you’re allergic to casein and whey keep an eye on labels so you can avoid these.

While dairy may be an entire food group, it is not an essential nutrient. All the nutrients in dairy are available in other foods. So if you experience these symptoms, you can try removing dairy from your diet. You may find improved digestion and fewer gut issues. Or you may find improved nasal congestion, or even less belly fat.

Interestingly, people who have gluten intolerance are often allergic to milk proteins like whey and casein as well. These can go hand-in-hand.

However people often do not even realise they have food sensitivities. Food intolerance symptoms often create subtle reactions if eaten continually because your body’s reactive cells are typically depleted from constantly reacting to that bit of food everyday. You may not be having a noticeable reaction but it could be causing inflammation in your body.

That’s why my 10 Day Cleanse is Gluten and Dairy free. It’s a great opportunity to actually find out if you have issues with these foods.

The 10 Day Cleanse gives you a break from dairy, gluten and soy, giving the immune cells time to rejuvenate so that when you do reintroduce the food your body mounts a much stronger reaction and you are more likely to notice the symptoms and figure out which foods work for you, and which don’t. See below for details and link.

 

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References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating/

https://authoritynutrition.com/dairy-foods-low-in-lactose/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/how-to-get-rid-of-bloating/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/11-warning-signs-you-have-a-food-intolerance/

https://authoritynutrition.com/dairy-foods-low-in-lactose/

https://authoritynutrition.com/lactose-intolerance-101/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/the-great-dairy-debate/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-milk-and-mucus-a-myth/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/milk-protein-vs-soy-protein/

https://examine.com/supplements/casein-protein/

https://examine.com/supplements/whey-protein/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blood-pressure/milk-protein-may-lower-blood-pressure

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