Dairy Free Diet, No More Crying Over Spilled Milk

3263-dairy freeGot Milk? We are led to believe that milk and other dairy products are an essential and healthy component of a balanced diet and that reduction or avoidance will lead to nutrient deficiency, namely calcium.

However, there is much evidence to support the reduction or avoidance of dairy products even if you are not allergic to them.

Health problems resulting from dairy begin with modern farming, breeding and processing methods.

For example, hormones and antibiotics are finding their way into our milk, pasteurisation destroys numerous essential enzymes, and the removal of butter fat, as in skim milk, reduces the ability of the body to absorb and utilise the nutrients in the milk and also removes the fat soluble vitamins.

You may wish to consider adopting a dairy free diet if you are struggling with acne, arthritis, irritable bowel, asthma, eczema, autism, ADHD, sinus or respiratory infections.


Lactose intolerance – Disturbing your stomach

Lactose intolerance is a general description used for people who cannot easily digest lactose, a sugar found naturally in milk.

Lactase, the enzyme in the digestive system that helps break down lactose, declines from the age of two.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance may include abdominal pain, gas, cramping, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation.

Symptoms may occur one hour to a few days after dairy consumption. Dairy products have also been associated with eczema, dermatitis, acne, respiratory mucus congestion and sinus problems.

Primary Lactose Intolerance is an inherited condition. Levels of intolerance vary, with approximately 90-95% of Asians, Africans and Indians having lactose intolerance, 85% of Aboriginals, 60% of Maoris and Mediterraneans and approximately 15% of Caucasians.


Milk allergy – The culprit is Casein

Dairy products contain a protein called casein, which is very hard to digest so even if you do not have a true milk allergy you may still have problems with this protein. Casein is 300 times higher in cow’s milk than it is in human milk.

True milk allergy to casein will only affect about 1-3% of the population; however, milk (lactose) intolerance is more widely spread.

Dairy allergy appears to be due to the Casein A1 fraction of milk. It is worthwhile attempting consumption of A2 milk in those with confirmed dairy allergy.

Want to know if you’re intolerant to dairy and/or casein? Consider taking an IgG Food Allergy Test. This 93 food test includes all common dairy based sensitivities like casein, milk, goats cheese/milk and yogurt. Talk to your Emed Practitioner to find out more.


Going Dairy free and Reading Labels

Ingredients containing lactose include Lactose, Butter, Margarine, Cheese, Cream, Yoghurt, Whey, Milk solids, Non-fat milk products, and Skim milk powder.

Ingredients containing milk proteins include Lactoglobulin, Casein, Lactalbumin and Sodium caseinate.


Calcium-Rich-FoodsWhat about Calcium?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body.

A massive 99% of it is located in the bones and teeth and the rest is present in the nerves, muscles and bloodstream where it is needed for the production of nerve signals and muscular energy and is involved in many enzymatic reactions.

It is possible (despite what the dairy corporations would have you believe) to obtain enough calcium daily from a combination of sources, in particular dark green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds.

It is also very important to look at factors which reduce calcium balance, including urinary loss due to caffeine, alcohol, an acidic diet, smoking or poor absorption due to a deficiency of stomach acid.

Adequate levels of magnesium, vitamin D and weight bearing exercise will help the body retain calcium, while a number of trace minerals have been shown to play essential roles in bone metabolism.

Adequate calcium intake will slow the rate of bone loss in older people and may reduce the risk of fracture.

However sometimes supplementation is necessary. See Emed’s Best Calcium Supplements for your top options.

Australian studies found that the average daily intake of calcium in the 65+ age group was only 685mg for women and 796 for men while the RDI is higher (1000-1500mg) in this age group. In these cases, supplementation may well be necessary if dietary changes do not fill the gap.

Calcium supplementation has been shown to slow bone loss in older women by 43% and reduce the risk of fracture by 26-70%. Calcium supplements however are not all created equally. Read Emed’s article Are You Being Conned By Caltrate? for more information.


Your Hit List of Dairy Alternatives:

  • Instead of Milk – Try soy milk (preferably organic and malt free), rice milk, almond milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk
  • Instead of Yoghurt/Dairy desserts – Try sugar-free soy yoghurt, sheep’s yoghurt, goat’s yoghurt
  • Instead of Cheese – Try goat’s cheese, sheep’s cheese, soya cheese, tofu
  • Instead of Ice-cream – Try non-dairy gelati, fruit sorbet, soya ice-cream, frozen soy desserts
  • Instead of Milk Chocolate – Try dairy-free carob bars (preferably sugar-free)
  • Instead of Ready-made Sauces – Try making fresh sauce using corn rice flour and soy milk
  • Instead of Packaged Soups – Try fresh soups thickened with potato or pulses such as lentils
  • Instead of Butter or spreads – Try olive oil, flax oil, macadamia oil, sesame oil, soy cream cheese, nut butters or spreads, avocado, tahini, hommus
  • Instead of Buttermilk, Butterfat – Try ghee, coconut milk/cream, copha


Note on Goat and Sheep alternatives: Both sheep and goat products contain lactose but in lower levels than cow products.

People with mild lactose intolerance are often able to tolerate small amounts of these products. Those with allergies or sensitivities to the proteins in cow’s milk will be able to tolerate sheep and goat products.


Extra Tips:

  • Read labels!
  • Notify restaurants when you book that you have special requirements.
  • Margarine commonly contains milk solids. A healthier alternative is olive oil (dip as the Greeks do!), avocado, tahini, hummus and nut spreads instead of margarine or butter.
  • Soy cheeses sometimes contain casein. Read the label!
  • Mayonnaise and salad dressings traditionally are made without dairy products but many pre-prepared ones now do. Read the label!
  • Did I already mention reading the label?


The Low Down on A2 Milk

Milk is made up of Carbohydrates (Lactose) Fats and Proteins. The proteins can be divided into two major groups: Whey Protein and Casein.

Casein can be further grouped into alpha, beta and kappa.

Each type of casein comes in certain variants, depending on the genetics of the cow that produced it.

For example more than 70% of Guernsey cows produce the A2 variety of beta casein in their milk, where as 70% of Red Danish Dairy cattle produce the A1 variety of beta casein.

A2 Milk is free of the protein called beta casein A1. There is significant evidence to suggest that there is a linkage between A1 protein consumption and some disease; namely Type 1 diabetes, vascular/heart disease and neurological disorders such as autism.

Preliminary findings of a recent study showed 95% of 81 autistic children had 100 times the normal levels of milk protein in their blood and urine.

A2 milk does contain lactose therefore if you are lactose intolerant you should avoid this milk. However many people incorrectly believe that they are lactose intolerant when they could in fact be reacting to the impact of A1 beta-casein protein.

Studies report that although a large number of people in Western countries have a perceived intolerance to dairy milk, only a small number are medically diagnosed as lactose intolerant or have an allergy to cows milk protein.

Consequently, many people who are self diagnosed as being lactose intolerant report that they can drink A2 milk without experiencing discomfort.


Further Reading