At the Allergy show at the weekend I ran a seminar called Dairy Free and delicious. This was basically information on the basics of cows milk intolerance and allergy. I’m posting the comments of the seminar below as requested by some after the seminar. The content is basic as the real aim was to introduce the many people unable to eat dairy to the fantastic array of dairy free products which we did at the seminar, so in comparison the notes are a little bland. We had a range of almost 20 different milk alternatives available to taste, plus gorgeous chocolate and cheeses, as well as some even stranger products like Engevita Yeast flakes – have you ever tried them?
Anyway, here are the notes as promised:
Dairy allergy or intolerance is either a reaction to lactose – the sugar found in cows milk in which case it is an intolerance, or an allergic reaction to the protein in cows milk.
The first of these – lactose intolerance tends to be most common amongst adolescents and adults and is often an inherited condition. Having said that some children to have this intolerance too.
conversely the cows milk allergy is most frequent in children, but adults can be affected too. Children having this allergy may well have grown out of it by 4 or 5 years of age. It is possible to have an anaphylactic shock reaction to cows milk protein and this is not something to be taken lightly.
Lactose is a disaccharide – a natural sugar, found in human milk and the
milk of other mammals. During normal digestion, lactase, an enzyme
breaks down the lactose so that the body can absorb it.
So if we can’t produce enough lactase, the lactose passes into
our large intestine unprocessed where the bacteria feed on it
– the result being gas and toxins, pain, bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea.
Symptoms vary from person to person as does the severity
of intolerance. Some people can drink a whole glass of
milk whilst others cant take much at all. It is often trial
and error with the help of your dietitian to see what you
Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy
Here the body reacts adversely to the protein in cow’s milk. There are a variety of symptoms which indicate allergy to cows milk protein including diarrhoea, blocked nose and too much mucus, asthma
rashes and lumps on the skin, eczema is common, dark eye circles, glue ear, bloated swollen stomach, constipation,sickness, headaches, and hyperactivity in children and as I have mentioned this can cause anaphylactic shock.
Cow’s milk protein allergy can affect as many as 2 babies in every 100, but the child will probably grown out of this by school age.
The most effective way to alleviate illness due to these conditions is to avoid dairy products from the diet of those affected. In order to do that you need to be aware of all the different products which are derived from cows milk in some form. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of items to watch out for on food labeling.
Butter, buttermilk, butter oil
casein, hydrolised casein
rennet casein, caseinates
hydrolsed milk protein
lactalbumin phosphate, lactalbumin
lactic acid (E270) in fact most products beginning with “lact”, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin, lactose but having said that glucono delta lactone is OK as it?s the natural sugar from grapes and nothing to do with dairy.
whey, delactosed whey, whey syrup sweetener or whey in any form,
milk derivative fat
Milk or milk byproducts are also used to produce latex, so don’t be surprised if there is a reaction to latex gloves or condoms.
Similarly milk proteins can be used in toiletries and food supplement tablets and pharmaceutical tablets, so opt for vegan choices where possible.
Get enough calcium
Milk is a valuable food, made up of protein, fat, carbs,
minerals (inc. calcium and zinc) and vitamins. Because it is so nutritious it is important to include in your new diet some foods that are rich in calcium.
One way to do this is to always select specially enriched milk substitutes, there are many of these available but ideally also make sure you include in your diet seeds, vegetables, especially green leafy ones, nuts and pulses like baked beans. These foods are particularly rich in calcium:
These are just some of the foods available. In order for your body to absorb and use the calcium present in food a certain amount of magnesium must be present too, so go for nuts, seeds and green leafy veg were the calcium/magnesium balance is just right to help your bodies absorb the calcium present.
What can I use instead of butter?
There are many dairy free margarine and spreads available. Click here to see a selection.
Also Coconut Oil is great for cooking as it is heat stable even at high temperatures and so there is no danger of transfats occurring.
What can I use instead of milk?
Again we have many dairy milk alternatives, including some made from soya, oats, peas, tiger nuts , rice, and nuts, so why not be adventurous? Be sure to select the ones with added calcium though.
Goat and Sheep Milk
The definition of dairy is really cow’s milk, so goats and sheep’s milk are not technically dairy products and you may be able to tolerate these and the products made from them like cheese & yogurt. To explain a little, the proteins found in goat and sheep’s milk are the same as those found in cow’s milk but constructed slightly differently, in fact there is slightly more of these proteins in the sheep and goat milks. This is also true of lactose which is also present in all three milks. Because of these facts, the medical profession and the FSA do not recommend substituting onto another mammal milk.
However there are many many testimonies about those who have tried these alternatives with beneficial results.
What do I give my baby?
Breast is always best for baby, but some babies may react to mothers milk if the mother has drunk a lot of cows milk. This is something to be aware of.
In the special cases where there has been a referral by a dietitian we can provide goats milk infant formulas and growing up formula. Goats milk should be given to babies over a year old.
What do I eat instead of cheese?
There are some amazing non diary cheese available:click here
as well as soft cheese spreads.
Something you may not have tried is Engevita Yeast flakes, these can be used to make toast toppers or savoury sauces as it tastes a little like cheese, definitely worth a try.
Some who are less sensitive may be able to tolerate goat’s and sheep’s cheese.
What do I eat instead of cream?
There are creams made of soya and rice, but why not include coconut milk, or oat cream in your diet. Tofu silken is great as a base for creamy sauces, both savoury and sweet. Amazake is a Japanese dessert made from rice which is a great base for sweet sauces or eaten as it is as a creamy dessert.
What do I eat instead of yogurt?
Try some of the dairy free desserts available, there is even a diary free Pro-biotic!
Note:Yogurt is one of those things which some people can tolerate who cannot otherwise take dairy products, this maybe to the natural enzymes in yogurt.
What do I eat instead of Ice Cream?
Some of our Oat and Soya Ice creams are as delicious as their dairy competitors, so give them a try.