Trouble with Milk?

Some people who have trouble digesting milk have lactose intolerance, a condition in which the body is deficient in lactase, the enzyme necessary to digest lactose milk sugar. When lactose isn’t broken down, it passes into the large intestine, causing gas, diarrhea, and other unpleasant symptoms. These issues can often be avoided by consuming lactose-free dairy products, or by taking a Lactaid digestive enzyme.

Dairy allergies, on the other hand, are an immune response to a protein found in dairy products, rather than an enzyme deficiency, and they are much more common. If you have an allergy to cow’s milk, eating dairy products—even if they’re lactose-free—will continue to cause health problems, including diarrhea and abdominal cramping. But symptoms aren’t limited to digestive distress. Dairy allergies can also cause skin rashes, nasal congestion, joint aches, asthma, and earaches.

Determining whether you have a problem with dairy isn’t always easy. Milk products can cause “slow” reactions, which means symptoms develop over time—from several hours to days later. Or they can provoke symptoms quickly, within seconds to hours after consuming dairy. Either way, if you avoid cow’s milk products altogether, your symptoms should improve.

Coconut milk (from a can) is a good substitute for milk for many people, especially those on low-carb diets.

Copyright 2016 Melissa Diane Smith

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