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Are You Dairy Intolerant? Here’s How To Tell

lactose intelerant

Have you ever wondered if you’re intolerant to dairy? Unlike a dairy allergy, an intolerance to dairy is generally more subtle and can go unnoticed for years. Let’s look at common symptoms of dairy intolerance and what you need to know about this food sensitivity. 

What are common signs of dairy intolerance? 

The issue with intolerances is that signs and symptoms can vary depending on how much you consume, your level of intolerance and which compound in dairy you react to. But some of the more common symptoms include: 

  • Digestive symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, reflux and stomach pain 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Brain fog 
  • Headaches 
  • Fatigue 
  • Eczema and flares in skin conditions 
  • Immune issues such as ear infections and enlarged tonsils 
  • General aches and pains 
  • Restless sleep or insomnia 

Unlike an allergy, the symptoms of an intolerance can appear hours or even days after consumption.  

Is it lactose or casein? 

Most people know about lactose intolerance. You may have even tried lactose-free products and not seen any difference. This might be because lactose is only one of the potential intolerances within dairy. The other common one is casein – a dairy protein. 

Lactose intolerance is caused by the absence of lactase – the enzyme that breaks down lactose for digestion. Because this occurs in the gut, symptoms often appear within minutes of consumption. 

But if it’s casein you’re intolerant to, you may experience delays in the onset of symptoms. Casein intolerance tends to contribute more to general inflammation throughout the body. As such, you may have digestive symptoms along with body-wide symptoms such as pain. 

Should I remove dairy from my diet? 

If you have symptoms that are consistent with dairy intolerance, you may like to eliminate dairy for a set period of time. This gives you a chance to see if your symptoms improve or not. 

For this trial to work, you need to make sure that you remove ALL forms of dairy, not just the most obvious ones! This means eliminating: 

  • Milk 
  • Cheese 
  • Yoghurt 
  • Butter 
  • Cream and sour cream 
  • Cottage cheese 
  • Ice-cream and frozen yoghurt 
  • Custard 
  • Lactose-free milk and milk products (these still contain casein!) 
  • Foods with dairy as an added ingredient 

This can take a bit of effort as you’ll need to read all of your labels to ensure what you eat is completely dairy-free. Otherwise, you could sabotage your efforts and the results won’t be the same. 

A good rule of thumb for this is to remove dairy for 4-6 weeks. From there, you can reintroduce A2 and goats milk products – these are more friendly options if your issue is casein. Make sure you give each product 2-3 days before you add another in, otherwise you might not be clear on what is causing your symptoms. 

This process can be overwhelming, especially if you eat a lot of dairy or have a family who relies on dairy products. However, working with a qualified health practitioner can help guide you through the process. 

Do I need to worry about calcium on a dairy-free diet? 

You’ll want to be more intentional with choosing dairy-free calcium-rich foods. Green leafy vegetables, fish with bones, tahini and almonds are a few good ones to include.  

If you struggle to consume these types of foods, you may like to look at adding a high-quality calcium supplement as recommended by your health practitioner. 

Are you considering whether a dairy-free diet or trial elimination is right for you? If so, our naturopath Trish is here to help you.  

Trish can assess your diet and help you to come up with dairy-free alternatives and calcium-rich foods that you enjoy. She can also help you to access high-quality practitioner-only products if required. 

To book an appointment with Trish at our Bundaberg clinic, book an appointment online here or call us on (07) 41522372 

© 2019 by Burnett House
84 Burnett St
Bundaberg South QLD 4670
ABN: 88 973 250 774
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