Importance Of Dairy In Your Diet

Dairy is in everything these days. You can find it in candies, keto recipes, high-carb snacks, or anything else you eat. It's not a big problem if you are not intolerant or allergic to dairy. However, if you are on a high dairy diet, such as a ketogenic diet, and are intolerant or allergic to dairy, you might be wondering what to do. Well, you should know that there are numerous dairy substitutes and dairy-free recipes you can use.

You might not have an idea of any dairy problems on your end, but there is a chance that you have some form of lactose intolerance or an allergy to dairy proteins. For instance, you might be struggling to break down lactose (the sugar found in milk) without even knowing it. At least 65% of the human population has a reduced capability of digesting lactose after the infancy stage. It's prevalent for people from East Asian, Arab, West African, Italian, and Greek countries.

1Why Lactose Intolerance Happens

On the other hand, if your ancestors depend on unfermented milk for food, you are not going to suffer from lactose intolerance. That's why about 5% of people from Northern European countries suffer from lactose intolerance. If your ancestors didn't take a lot of milk in their diet, you might have some lactose intolerance.

It happens because the body stops producing the lactase enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose after breastfeeding. Throughout human evolution, people rarely came across lactose unless found in breast milk. That's why our bodies produced lactase during the infancy stage to help digest the breast milk, thus diverting the energy elsewhere once we consume solid food.

2How To Check For Lactose Intolerance

Without the lactase enzyme, the bacteria found in your gut metabolize lactose. As a result, you might suffer flatulence, upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, and nausea, as well as other numerous gastrointestinal symptoms. Well, it might seem severe, but it's not life-threatening; however, it's a little annoying and unpleasant for most people. Are you feeling sick after eating a meal full of dairy? Well, it's a sign of lactose intolerance.

If you are struggling with lactose digestion, you can get a blood glucose test or a breath test immediately after taking something rich in lactose. However, you should know that it's costly and takes a lot of time. The best way to test for lactose intolerance is by drinking a mixture of water and lactose powder, then see if there are any digestive issues. For this test, you can start with 25g of lactose in the morning or at least 3 hours after your last meal. Once you have taken the lactose drink, pay attention to any symptoms you might feel.

3Main Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance

Some of the common symptoms you should look for include abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain, intestinal pain, gassiness (flatulence or burping), and indigestion. If you experience at least one of these symptoms after taking something rich in lactose, then you are suffering from lactose intolerance. The severity of the symptoms is an indicator of how well your body handles foods containing lactose.

As mentioned, lactose intolerance is known to cause diarrhea or increase the liquidity, frequency, and volume of stool. It happens when the undigested lactose ferments in the colon, thus producing short-chain fatty acids known to increase the amount of water found in your gut. When lactose ferments in the colon, it will cause flatulence at a varying degree in each individual. The gas produced after the fermentation of lactose is odorless.

4Other Possible Symptoms

The primary recognized symptoms of lactose intolerance are gastrointestinal. However, some case studies have come up with other types of symptoms, such as loss of concentration, muscle pain, joint pain, mouth ulcers, urinating problems, and eczema. Note that these symptoms aren't established as definitive results of lactose intolerance since there are other underlying causes. In some cases, milk allergy symptoms are often mistaken to be symptoms of lactose intolerance.

About 5% of people have an allergy to cow's milk, especially children. Note that lactose intolerance and milk allergy are entirely different. However, they mostly happen at the same time and present similar symptoms, so it's tough to identify the underlying causes. A milk allergy is life-threatening compared to lactose intolerance, so you need to get the right diagnosis of the symptoms, especially for children.

5If You Only Have Minor Symptoms During The Powder Test

If you present minor symptoms after the lactose powder test, you can handle the amount of lactose powder present in the keto diet. On the other hand, if you suffer severe digestive stress, here are some of the things you can do to eliminate the symptoms. You can reduce your dairy intake or take dairy products with reduced lactose levels, such as butter or hard cheese. You can also take a lactase enzyme supplement before taking any meals rich in dairy. Lastly, remove all types of dairy from your diet by following the suggestions outlined here.

Note that the ketogenic diet contains lower levels of lactose than any other type of diet plan that contains dairy. With keto meals, you will experience fewer side effects. However, if you are struggling even with the products with low levels of lactose, such as cheddar cheese or butter, you probably have a dairy allergy or dairy protein intolerance rather than being lactose intolerant.

6Cow's Milk Allergy Is Most Common In Children

Statistics based on numerous population-based studies have revealed that cow's milk allergy is the most common type of food allergy found in young children and infants. Note that at least 2 out of every 100 children under the age of four are allergic to milk. Keep in mind that milk allergies are not prevalent in adults or older kids.

Dairy allergies result in an immediate and unmistakable immune response. These include severely clogged sinuses, itchy skin, rashes, hives, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. It can also cause an elevated heart rate and difficulty in breathing.

7Milk Allergy And Dairy Protein Intolerance Are Often Confused

On the other hand, dairy protein intolerances are more confusing and nuanced. Some of the symptoms are similar and mild compared to allergic reactions. Most people suffer symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation. Other people suffer from brain fog or joint pain.

Whatever type of symptoms you have from your dairy protein intolerance, you should know that they take a while to show up, so it's hard to identify the underlying cause. There is little consensus on the exact niche on the type of intolerance for dairy proteins. There are no standard lab tests, and only several medical professionals will be able to help.

8There Are Both Sides Of The Spectrum

To make it easier to understand the difference between dairy intolerance and allergy, you should know that they are both on the same spectrum. On the left side, some people don't have any problems with dairy proteins. On the right side of the spectrum, there are people with different levels of intolerance or allergies that can lead to mild intestinal discomfort or severe anaphylaxis after taking even a small drop of milk.

A few things determine where you fall on the spectrum, and these include genetics, gut health, lifestyle, diet, and upbringing. On any given day, you will be moving to the left or right of the spectrum. If you eat the right type of diet and follow the right lifestyle, you should be able to eliminate the dairy intolerance.

Dairy is one of the best products, but most people struggle to digest the compounds. You might have a hard time breaking down significant amounts of lactose, or your immune system might be reacting to dairy proteins. If you are facing any issues with your dairy consumption, you need to remove it from your diet for at least a month to see if you feel good without using it. Once you have gone for a while without dairy in your diet, you can reintroduce it slowly and assess the symptoms. If you are feeling worse, you should limit your dairy intake or remove it from your diet altogether.

If you are feeling better, you can take as much dairy as you want without any worries. You won't miss out on a lot if you limit your intake of dairy. You won't even notice that it's missing when you use alternatives, such as cheese, coconut cream, nut-based yogurt, olive oil, or coconut oil. If you are doing the keto diet, you need to know what you can avoid and what you can take without any severe symptoms. Take these considerations into mind for the best results.

Elizabeth Ralph

Elizabeth Ralph is a proud lifelong resident of Nashville, Tennessee, a reader with a healthy appetite and mom to three kids and three dogs. She believes the healthiest lifestyles involve the entire household and loves reading about new ways for her family to cook and play together.