What is a Milk (casein) Sensitivity?
A casein sensitivity means your immune system is sensitive to certain proteins found in cow’s milk products—it is nothing to do with missing digestive enzymes. Many people lack the digestive enzymes to digest the sugar in milk known as “lactose.” This is called “lactose intolerance” and means that ALL dairy products including cow’s dairy, goat, sheep and buffalo dairy must be avoided. Symptoms of people who are lactose intolerant would be an immediate gastrointestinal reaction on consumption of all dairy. Symptoms would be digestive pain and discomfort, irregular bowel movements, bloating and so on.
A dairy sensitivity specifically means your immune system thinks that milk proteins are “invaders” and will start to attack them as such. Some people have an IgE mediated allergy which involves an instant reaction on consumption of dairy. Reactions may include include abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, itchy skin, and swelling of the skin during hives. Many people also have the slower type IV delayed sensitivity reaction which involves different parts of the immune system (IgA and IgG immunoglobulins). Reactions with this type of sensitivity tend to be delayed (sometimes a day or two later) and may not involve digestive symptoms. Reactions can be diverse including fatigue, headaches, joint pain, low mood and digestive symptoms. They may persist for 6-8 weeks after the original consumption of dairy.
Some people who are casein sensitive find they are okay on goats, sheep and buffalo dairy -they just cannot tolerate cow’s dairy products. Generally though, there is a phenomenon known as “cross sensitivity” whereby proteins that are similar to ones the immune system has memorized as invaders also become flagged as an invader the immune system must attack.
It is known that people who are gluten sensitive often become cross sensitized to coffee, milk chocolate and ALL dairy (which includes cow, sheep, goat, buffalo and so on), so for many sensitive people, they essentially need to go completely dairy-free (no milk, cheese, ice cream, butter, cottage cheese or any related products).
Alternatives to Replace Dairy in your Diet
Soy milk, yogurt, ice-cream and cheese can be good alternatives – however make sure they grown from non-genetically modified seeds and ensure and sweeteners added are from natural sources (e.g. apple juice). Most soy and corn (maize) produced from the USA is now genetically modified.
Almond milk and milk from other nuts can be a useful alternative. Again try to aim for naturally sweetened organic sources.
Coconut Milk, Water and Butter
Coconut milk and butter can be a great alternative used in baking. Use coconut water or milk in smoothies – it tastes great and is high in healthy electrolytes. Coconut oil is a great alternative to cooking with butter.
Milk can also be made from gluten-free grains like quinoa.
Nut and Seed Butters
Butter versions of most nuts are useful and widely available in health food shops (e.g. almond, cashew, hazelnut, pecan and Brazil nut butters). Sunflower and pumpkin seed butters are also widely available as is tahini which is sesame seed butter.
Olive Oil Butters
Look out for butters made from olive oil – ensure they are trans-fat free however. Some brands include Vitaquell margarine and Biona: Organic Olive Spread
Creaming avocado ( like you would do to make smooth guacamole) and adding organic berries and other fruits for flavouring makes an amazing dairy-free-like mousse. Adding carob powder makes amazing chocolate mousse…
See it is possible to live dairy-free!
Worried about getting enough calcium? Other sources of dietary calcium:
- Oily fish including sardines, mackerel and herring
- Most other fish
- Tofu (ensure it is not genetically modified if you live in the USA)
- Kidney beans
- Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- Green leafy vegetables
- Green beans
- Kiwi fruit