Have you ever wondered?
- If animals such as giraffes and gorillas can get all the calcium they need without consuming dairy, why should humans consume it?
- How can milk help with exercise recovery?
- Why do teenagers need more calcium?
Have you ever wondered?
Food allergies and food intolerances are very different conditions. Milk allergy, like all allergies is the immune system’s abnormal reaction to a protein, in this case a milk protein. Dairy allergies have to be diagnosed by a medical expert and require those affected to cut milk and dairy from their diet. Milk allergies are most common in young children but usually disappear by 3-5 years of age.
Lactose intolerances occur in adults who have low levels of the enzyme needed to digest the naturally occurring sugar in milk, known as lactose. This can cause digestion problems if too much lactose is consumed. It is often believed that lactose intolerance is a very common condition but in Ireland and other northern European countries only about 4-5 % of the population are affected.
Depending on the level of tolerance, most people can consume some lactose – typically a daily amount of 12-15 g. A 200 ml glass of milk contains approximately 9-10 g lactose, while the amounts in yogurt and cheese is considerably less – 5.9 g in 125 ml pot of plain whole yogurt and 0.03 g in 25 g of cheddar cheese.
Cow’s milk allergy (also known as cow’s milk protein allergy) is most common in early childhood, affecting about 2-3 % of young children. Avoidance of dairy products is necessary in these cases but children usually outgrow this allergy by the age of 3-5 years. Therefore, this allergy is uncommon among adults.
The symptoms of cow’s milk allergy can include gastrointestinal (e.g. vomiting, cramps), dermatological (e.g. hives and facial swelling) and respiratory (e.g. wheezing) issues. In severe cases, anaphylaxis can occur.
Cow’s milk allergy should be diagnosed by a registered clinical expert who will assess the detailed clinical history in combination with tests for specific IgE antibodies to cow’s milk protein (usually skin prick tests or blood tests).
Cow’s milk allergy is treated by the absolute exclusion of all milk-based foods for as long as the allergy exists. Food challenge tests for safe re-introduction are performed under the supervision of a registered clinical expert, such as a dietitian.
For individuals with cow’s milk allergy, it is important that all milk-based foods are removed initially. Following this, food challenge tests for safe re-introduction are performed under the supervision of a registered clinical expert, such as a dietitian. The dietitian uses a step-wise approach to gradually re-introduce dairy products and may begin with baked-milk products.