Did you know that 68% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant? Living in the UK, it’s easy to assume you’re the odd one out. But humans have only been drinking milk for the past 8,000 years, predominantly in Northwest Europe.
For individuals with a dairy Sensitivity, navigating foods is quite a challenge. After all, much of our diet is based on cheeses, milk, chocolate, and yoghurt. Moreover, these foods are rich in nutrients like calcium, protein, and vitamins.
Pursuing a dairy-free diet because of an allergy or intolerance might sound nigh impossible. But, with the right guidance, you can stay fit, healthy, and avoid any uncomfortable side effects. Not sure if you’re allergic or intolerant? Don’t worry – we’ll cover that too!
What is Dairy Sensitivity?
The term dairy Sensitivity primarily refers to one component of milk: lactose. Lactose is a natural sugar normally digested by the enzyme lactase in our intestine. The evolution of lactase was the key development allowing us to derive much of our nutrition from dairy products.
However, in most people worldwide, lactase is produced in insufficient amounts. That means the lactose goes undigested, leading to fermentation—the result: bloating and discomfort.
Nonetheless, individuals with lactose intolerance can consume small amounts of dairy products – especially processed foods like yoghurt or cottage cheese.
Testing for lactose intolerance is relatively simple. Our Individual Ultimate Test, for instance, is a home test that lets you check your sensitivity to 975 different substances, including lactose. Send a small sample of hair, and you’ll receive a complete report of your body’s sensitivities and intolerances in less than a week.
Symptoms of Dairy Sensitivity
Dairy sensitivity symptoms aren’t pleasant. The fermentation process leads to:
- Stomach rumbling (borborygmi)
Dairy sensitivity symptoms usually appear within 1-2 hours after dairy consumption and last until the lactose is fermented. The greater the lactose consumed, the longer symptoms last.
Dairy Sensitivity vs. Allergy: What’s the Difference?
If dairy or lactose intolerance is the absence of the enzyme lactase, what’s a dairy allergy? Here, your body responds to a component of milk – usually a protein, like albumin, casein, or whey – as a hostile substance, triggering an immune response (Type 1 hypersensitivity reaction). Only around 2% of the population have a milk allergy.
Exposure elicits the cardinal symptoms of allergy: hives, eczema, a tingling sensation in the mouth, and swelling of lips, faces, or eyes. Depending on the severity of the allergy, a person may even experience anaphylaxis: a potentially deadly condition.
Always seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing the above symptoms. It is advised to carry antihistamines or an epi-pen.
What is a Dairy-Free Diet?
In a nutshell, a dairy-free diet is exactly what it sounds like: a diet without any milk or milk-related products. That includes cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream, and milk chocolate.
Some compare this to the vegan diet, and they are similar. But a dairy-free diet still allows for the consumption of other animal products.
Practising a dairy-free diet will help you avoid any intolerance symptoms or allergic reactions. However, you will need to work hard to find replacement sources of calcium, vitamins, and natural fat.
6 Tips to Help Stay Dairy-Free
1. Try Lactase Supplements
Not able to produce lactase? There’s a pill for that. Through the magic of science, dairy sensitive individuals can now take lactase supplementation to reduce the uncomfortable side effects of dairy products.
Doing so skips all the hassle of swapping out milk products. You should always get an official confirmation of lactose intolerance via a reliable test. And be aware some people do report side effects from the supplementation.
2. Forget Butter; Try Ghee
Ghee is an Indian cooking fat made from clarified butter. Unlike regular butter, it has negligible amounts of lactose and casein, making it perfect for individuals with a lactose intolerance or allergy.
Use it to shallow or deep fry, spread it on bread, or add it to a homemade curry. Some even say ghee is healthier than other fat sources, being rich in vitamin A.
3. Try Cheese and Yoghurt Alternatives
Cheese and yoghurt are dietary staples it’s not easy to do without. So, don’t! Nut and soy cheese are tasty alternatives that get better by the day. If they’re not to your taste, stick to hard cheese, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, which removes most of the lactose during the cheese-making process.
Soy and coconut yoghurt are also viable alternatives with plenty of flavour varieties.
4. Heard of Nut Milks?
Where have you been if you’ve not explored some of the milk alternatives? Nut milk, oat milk, and other milk substitutes are becoming extremely common.
Popular nut milks include almond, cashew, and coconut – which you prefer is down to taste. Just be careful of some of the more processed alternatives, which add lots of sugar and trans fats.
5. Find a New Favourite Snack
A handful of almonds. A dollop of peanut butter and carrots. Your afternoon or mid-morning snack doesn’t have to be cheese or yoghurt. Find a replacement snack that skips the lactose and dairy. Look for a high-protein alternative to keep your stomach from growling for the best results.
6. Add Calcium-Rich Foods
Dairy isn’t the only source of calcium. Sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, tofu, sardines, and cooked greens are all brimming in our bone’s favourite mineral. Just a few tweaks to your diet can ensure you get your daily dose without the painful bloating and stomach cramps.
Wrapping Things Up
Ready to take control of your diet and improve your well-being? Our Individual Ultimate Test is the key to unlocking your body’s unique sensitivities, including lactose intolerance. Find out if you need a dairy-free diet, and take the first step towards a healthier, symptom-free life – order your test today!