WHEN IS A DAIRY FREE DIET NECESSARY?
Only in individuals who have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance or cow’s milk allergy. Evidence suggests that a small minority of people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may report relief from symptoms when eliminating dairy. However, further research is required.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DAIRY ALLERGY AND AN INTOLERANCE?
A cow’s milk allergy is an autoimmune response to one or more of the proteins (albumin, casein or whey) in cow’s milk. When you consume cow’s milk, your immune system identifies the protein as foreign and mobilises your body’s defences. The symptoms are usually severe and therefore it may be necessary to avoid the allergen entirely.
Lactose intolerant individuals may experience less severe symptoms and these may not have an immediate onset. Avoiding certain dairy products high in lactose (such as milk) may relieve symptoms, however some dairy foods (like hard cheeses) actually contain a relatively low amount of lactose, and therefore completely eliminating dairy from the diet might not be necessary.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A COWS MILK ALLERGY OR LACTOSE INTOLERANCE?
Keep a two-week food diary and record exactly what you ate, when you ate it, and any symptoms experienced. You should take this to your GP, and they can help establish if you have an allergy or intolerance or another gastric issue such as IBS. If necessary, they can refer you onto a dietitian for further advice.
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