Let me ask you this...have you ever seen a goat milking a cow? Well, have you? I always started my allergen lecture with this question, and students always look at me like, what? But seriously, how many animals when full grown drink the milk of another?
More than 15 million Americans have food allergies. Eight foods account for 90 percent of these allergies, and one of these eight foods is cow's milk (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, 2011). Allergic reactions to cow’s milk can produce symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and nausea.
Worse yet, often Americans have no idea that they are allergic to cow’s milk. Elizabeth Weise (2009) reports that the ability to digest milk isn’t that common saying that somewhat less than 40% of people in the world retain the ability to digest lactose after childhood.
So, I get a little bloated or gassy when having milk or dairy, no big deal right? Wrong.
A consistent immune response creates inflammation, stress, and can alter neural responses. Paul Chek, author of more than 17 advanced level certifications and producer of more than 60 DVDs pertaining to health and fitness explains that food allergies and intolerances could be possibly even more damaging.
Chek states that when the immune system becomes overworked it will prioritize resources to handle the most threatening issue at hand. When this happens, immune complexes find their way into joint tissues, organ tissues, nerve tissues and anywhere else accessible via the micro-circulatory system, where they settle causing inflammation (Chek, 2009). Activation of the immune system is also correlated with altered neuroendocrine, neurophysiological, and neurochemical activities of brain cells (Dunn, 2000).
If cow’s milk protein allergy is the most common allergy among infants and can also alter immune and neural responses in adults, why don’t more Americans know about it? An article from the National Dairy Council lists the benefits flavored milk provides for children, first describing flavored milk as “the most popular milk choice in schools, flavored milk is a highly palatable, nourishing beverage that can help Americans, particularly children, meet current daily dairy food and calcium intake recommendations”, several sentences later the article acknowledges that “concerns about the potential effects of the added sugar and flavorings in flavored milk have raised questions regarding the role of flavored milk in a healthy diet” (National Dairy Council, 2009).
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 findings also states that milk is one of eight major foods that account for 90% of all allergies. The document goes on to state that”…at present there is no cure for food allergies and a food allergic customer must avoid the food to which the consumer is allergic”, as well as,”…a recent study shows that many parents of children with food allergy were unable to correctly identify in each of several food labels the ingredients derived from major food allergens” (FDA, 2004). The challenge with information not being present or clear on a food label is that millions of people rely on food labels to make health decisions.
Avoiding foods that cause allergic reactions is an easy way to avoid a lot of internal stress while getting healthy from the inside out! Did you know that kale, broccoli, and swiss chard all contain calcium? Or, what about sesame or flax seeds? Or nuts? And...if you are really concerned about calcium get outside and get some vitamin D; vitamin D is instrumental in helping your body absorb calcium.
Chek, P. (2009). Food intolerance may be making you tired and fat! Retrieved from http://www.holistictrainer.net/articles/food_intolerance.htm?select=66
Dunn, A. (2000). Interactions between the nervous system and the immune system. Retrieved from http://www.acnp.org/g4/GN401000069/CH069.html
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. (2011). About food allergy. Retrieved from http://www.foodallergy.org/section/about-food-allergy
National Dairy Council. (2009). Flavored milk in perspective. Retrieved from http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/child_nutrition/milkinschools/FMD09177_FlavoredMilk_V13.pdf
United States Food and Drug Administration. (2004). Food allergens labeling. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/FoodAllergensLabeling/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm106187.htm
Weise, E. (2009). Sixty percent of adults can’t digest milk. USA TODAY. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2009-08-30-lactose-intolerance_N.htm