Do you love dairy? Lots of people do. Does your body love dairy? It may not. Having a dairy allergy or intolerance isn't uncommon, but you may not realize you have one.
How the Body Uses Dairy
Once dairy enters the body, it begins traveling through the digestive system where it is broken down and important nutrients are absorbed into the body. The key digestive enzyme for breaking down dairy is called lactase, which is made in the small intestine. Once the dairy is broken down, calcium and protein (lactose) are absorbed by the body which are used to keep the bones, muscles and other tissues strong. This is why dairy used to be the main dietary recommendation for bone and dental health. The protein content also makes dairy a popular pre- and post-workout food.
Symptoms of Dairy Intolerance
Individuals who don't produce sufficient lactase or are unable to break down lactose may be intolerant or even allergic to dairy. The symptoms of dairy intolerance include gas and bloating, diarrhea or other digestive problems that develop shortly after consuming dairy. This condition is also known as lactose intolerance. If you have a dairy allergy, the symptoms are more severe and can include hives and respiratory distress in addition to digestive issues that come on quickly. Those allergic to milk and dairy products may also experience watery eyes or a rash that can develop later on.
Try keeping a journal to track your symptoms. If you think you may be intolerant to or allergic to dairy, see your doctor for a complete evaluation. There are plenty of ways to get the nutrients found in dairy products after removing them from your diet, which we'll get to next.
Cutting Back on Dairy
If you find you're intolerant to dairy or want to cut it out of your diet for other reasons, don't fret -- you can still enjoy your favorite dishes. Here are some tips to help:
- Use pureed cashews to add creaminess to sauces, soups and dips.
- Blend some avocado into your smoothie or protein shake instead of milk or yogurt.
- Add tofu to a chopped salad instead of chunks of cheese.
- Sprinkle nutritional or brewer's yeast onto foods for a cheesy flavor.
- Drink non-dairy milk like almond, oat, hemp or soy.
- Try vegan cheese substitutes.
Check back soon for more of the latest health news and information. Stay well!