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Got What?

Looking for an alternative to cow’s milk? You’re not alone: many people today are facing this challenge–drinking cow’s milk is a problem for those with lactose intolerance and dairy allergies.

Looking for an alternative to cow’s milk? You’re not alone: many people today are facing this challenge–drinking cow’s milk is a problem for those with lactose intolerance and dairy allergies.

Meet Denise, a mother of three. Walking out of her doctor’s office, Denise was unsure of where to turn next. She had just learned that her youngest son’s diarrhea, gas, and nasal congestion were caused by his allergy to milk.

Milk Allergy

Commonly confused with lactose intolerance, a milk allergy involves the immune system, which fails to recognize the proteins in milk as safe, and instead treats them as foreign invaders–the same way the immune system treats bacteria and viruses.

The result is a release of inflammatory mediators, and an unhappy and unhealthy digestive tract. A milk allergy typically involves many parts of the body and could manifest itself as swelling, hives, rashes, nasal congestion, asthma, nausea, diarrhea, or gas.

A quick visit to the local health food store and Denise’s dismay was lifted as she was offered a number of milk alternatives, such as soy, almond, rice, oat, potato, and coconut milk. These products do not contain casein, the main protein found in cow’s milk.

Human trials have shown that infants (one and two years of age) with cow’s milk allergies fed soy formula had normal weight and height at two years of age.

Lactose Intolerance

In the same health food store, Maggie was searching for a lactose-free milk alternative. Maggie has suffered terribly from lower intestinal cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea for the past year and discovered recently that her symptoms were caused by an intolerance to lactose.

Lactose is a sugar in cow’s milk that many people are unable to digest. Lactose intolerance is a condition in which the gastrointestinal tract contains insufficient lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose. Luckily, milk alternatives such as almond, rice, and soy beverages naturally contain no lactose.

Soy Benefits

Choosing soy as an alternative to cow’s milk has other advantages: the phytoestrogens in soy milk are thought to slow the loss of bone; and the American Heart Association recommends that soy products be included in a healthy diet. Soy can also help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and control glucose levels.

As Denise and Maggie discovered, there are many alternatives to cow’s milk offered at the local health food store. Whatever form of milk you choose, be sure to raise your glass and say “Cheers!” to a healthy heart, a happy digestive tract, and strong bones.

Read Labels Carefully

Check ingredient labels for the following items that indicate the food is not milk-free:

  • milk
  • lactic acid
  • milk protein
  • casein
  • nougat
  • milk solids
  • whey powder/protein
  • albumin
  • whey syrup
  • rennet
  • lactose (milk sugar)
  • curds
  • yogourt
  • caseinates
  • lactoglobulins
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