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Milk Allergy vs. Lactose Intolerance – Which one do you really have?

Posted Oct 05 2010 5:46am

Milk Allergy Lactose Intolerance

Milk Allergy Lactose Intolerance

So if you're anything like me, you love dairy foods, and a milk allergy or lactose intolerance would really cramp your eating style. From cheese to milk to yogurt and everything in between, dairy products are some of the tastiest products of nature. Unfortunately for many, digesting dairy products isn't the easiest thing in the world.

What's really interesting is that lactose intolerance is an extremely common phenomenon, and its prevalence varies throughout different regions of the world. Lactose intolerance is the result of the loss of lactase in the body, an enzyme that we have as children that helps break down our mother's milk. In North America and Europe, lactose intolerance frequency ranges from 0-20%, while in southern South America, East Asia, and southern Africa, the prevalence can be as high as 80-100%.

Still, if you are lactose intolerant, that doesn't mean you can't consume dairy products at all, it just won't be the most pleasant experience. Common symptoms of lactose intolerance include gas, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and bloating. The severity of these symptoms varies, but most people only experience them to a degree that they are willing to risk the symptoms for the pleasure of eating dairy.

For those who are lactose intolerant, there are several things you can do to lessen symptoms. For one, eat dairy products in small amounts and with other foods. You can also consume yogurt and kefir, which contain bacteria that help break down the lactose. If that isn't enough, you can also check out probiotic formulas that'll give you some extra enzymes to help your digestive system.

Dairy allergies, on the other hand, are a completely different phenomenon. Dairy allergies are caused by the body's mistaking some component of a specific food as a toxin, in which case reactions occur. In the case of dairy allergies, the vast majority are allergic to the protein found in milk. Many people mistaken a dairy allergy for lactose intolerance simply because many of the symptoms are the same. However, with dairy allergies, symptoms can be more severe and also include trouble breathing, hives, pneumonia, and, in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock. If you suspect that you may be allergic to dairy, it's best to see a doctor and get tested to know for sure. Having an intense allergic reaction–which can sometimes cause severe illness or death–is not worth the risk.

Unfortunately for those with dairy allergies, you should avoid dairy products at all costs. Since milk is a hidden ingredient in tons of processed foods, you need to be sure to read labels vigilantly. Inquire at restaurants about food ingredients also, and if your allergy is severe, make sure to carry an epipen with you just in case. A dairy allergy, however, need not be the end of enjoyment of foods like milk and cheese, although you will have to seek non-dairy alternatives. There are tons of tasty non-dairy substitutes out there on the market today, which provide you all the nutrition of dairy for those who suffer from milk allergy or lactose intolerance.

This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of  college courses .  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: angelita.williams7

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