Ahh dairy (cheese, ice cream, yogurt anyone?)…we love to love you but you just don’t seem to love us back. What’s the deal?
If you look at the “big eight” list of food allergens, dairy tops the charts, meaning it falls in the category of foods that cause 90 percent of all allergic responses.
If you’re someone who has a full-blown allergy to dairy, you likely already know it because your response to eating this food is very obvious. You’re also one of the “lucky ones” because a standard allergy test will confirm your immune reaction – things like hives, swelling of your lips or face, nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea or more dangerous respiratory issue which could lead to anaphylactic shock.
Fun stuff, huh? The upside to having a true allergic response is that you know you have an allergy. It’s very clear. You don’t eat dairy or else. Case closed.
Most reactions to food and therefore dairy aren’t these overblown allergic responses, they are “food sensitivities.”
Unlike allergies, food sensitivities don’t have a full on immune reaction blowout, so you may be able to eat these foods in small amounts without noticing it. Also, the standard allergy tests won’t pick up your food sensitivity. Food sensitivities are allergies to foods we’ve consumed on a regular basis to which the body has become intolerant. Sensitivities can be especially problematic because the reactions are often subtle or indirect enough that the effect is rarely, and sometimes never, linked to the cause.
You end up sabotaging your health without knowing it!
Symptoms of a food sensitivity can be linked to health challenges that we would never think are associated with a sensitivity to a food.
Here’s a list of symptoms that can be associated with a food sensitivity:
- Anxiety, mood swings, depression, or behavioral problems, ADD, ADHD
- Arthritis, joint pain, or back pain and muscle pain
- Asthma or difficulty breathing, stuffy nose
- Bad breath
- Body aches (and pains)
- Diarrhea, stomach aches, or stomach pains
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Headaches or brain fog
- Insomnia or change in sleep patterns
- Itchy skin, rash, psoriasis, dandruff, or acne
- Puffy face or swelling, puffy eyes, dark circles
- Sluggish digestion, bloating, or constipation
- Water retention or weight gain OR stubborn weight loss
Eye opening, right?!?
If you’re saying to yourself, “not me, I don’t have a dairy allergy,” then consider for one moment that you might fall into the category of someone who has a dairy sensitivity. Be open and willing to question everything, especially if you’re health is not 100% awesome. It’s time to be a sleuth and be your own body detective. Use the tips below to see for yourself if you might have a dairy sensitivity.
If after you read my tips below and you suspect you have a dairy sensitivity, take it out for a few weeks or even just 3-4 days and see how you feel!
And a word to the wise, if you have a sensitivity to dairy you might initially feel worse when you remove it from your diet. Think of it as a dairy hangover. If you were to eat more dairy during this detox period you would feel initially better, which can be deceiving. So allow yourself enough time to fully flush dairy from your system.
Be gentle and curious. We’re here to cheer you on to your most vibrant health. We believe in you!
With love and dairy-free almond milk,
P.S. – Just to be clear dairy comes in many forms. Things like milk, yogurt, butter, cheese and even our beloved ice cream. There are wonderful dairy-free alternatives so replace your favorite ice cream with our Vegan Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, yum!
How to Identify a Dairy Sensitivity
- You have gas, bloating and other digestive problems. According to the Academy of Family Physicians, about 75% of adults worldwide are not capable of digesting milk. By the age of 3 or 4, we have stopped producing the enzyme lactase that helps us digest milk. Listen to your body. It’s trying to tell you something.
- You had frequent ear infections or tubes as a child. Many people with dairy allergies also suffered from persistent ear infections as children. In fact, Dr. Barry Sears says, “allergies can clog the nasal passages and Eustachian tubes, and this prevents middle-ear fluid from draining. The fluid becomes like water in a stagnant pond, a culture, medium for bacteria.” If this sounds familiar, give dairy a break, your middle ear will thank you!
- You LOVE cheese, yogurt, milk and anything that comes from a cow. If you fit into this category, you may think that you could NEVER live without your dairy. I’m sorry to break the news but this is all the more reason to consider taking it off your plate. The food we love and crave the most is often times the food that is sabotaging our health. Too much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing.
- You have congestion, runny nose, phlegm and frequently clear your throat. Dairy is a mucus forming food. The root cause of mucus is inflammation in the body and inflammation is the precursor to all disease. While clearing your throat may not seem like such a big deal, imagine what other inflammatory responses it’s causing on a cellular level.
- You have skin blemishes, bumpy skin or acne. I was completely shocked to find that over 17 million people in the U.S. suffer from acne and our health care system spends $1 billion dollars a year to treat these patients. Dairy boosts levels of androgens, male hormones like testosterone in the body, not to mention spikes insulin, which raises our blood sugar levels. Both insulin and androgens stimulate the skin to produce blemishes and those oh-so-nasty pimples.
- You have asthma or difficulty breathing. Do you carry an inhaler or have trouble breathing after a meal? There are over 25 million Americans who suffer from asthma. According to top Functional Medicine doctor Mark Hyman, “dairy and gluten are the most common cause of asthma”. Goodbye dairy, sorry gluten, you will be missed. Well not really. :)
- You get sick often. If you’re sensitive to dairy it can weaken or lower your immune system function. Avoid dairy and keep those nasty bugs at bay. Seems too good to be true, right? Dr. Theron Randolph the father of environmental medicine and clinical ecology says, “In the case of food allergies, the source of the problem is literally right in front of you, in the form of some commonly eaten substance that is bringing on and perpetuating chronic symptoms.” Get ready to feel better, you’re worth it!
- You can’t seem to lose weight. When you’re eating foods that don’t work in your body, you become inflamed. Inflammation causes you to hold on to weight no matter how few calories you’re consuming or how much exercise you’re doing. Ditch the dairy and allow your body to find its natural, most balanced state.
If you do find that you have a sensitivity to dairy, start thinking about how you can replace your favorite dairy-filled treat with something else equally delicious!
Our philosophy in the Conscious Cleanse is to focus on what we CAN eat and what we CAN do. So I wanted to leave you with a few of our favorite dairy-free alternatives.
Conscious Cleanse Dairy Free Coconut “Yogurt” and Berry Vanilla Chia Jam recipe
Forager Project Cashewgurt
Kite Hill Cream Cheese (found at Whole Foods)