Dairy Intolerance – Casein or Lactose?

Some information I recently stumbled across regarding dairy intolerances helped me to set a few things straight regarding my allergies that no one had been able to answer in the past (Doctor’s included).

Lactose is a sugar (disaccharide containing glucose and galactose) present in milk  and dairy products, and for many people, is extremely hard to digest. This is due to a shortage in lactase, an enzyme produced by the small intestine that is needed by the body to break down lactose. A lactose intolerance can be incredibly uncomfortable for sufferers, with symptoms including bloating, painful gas, abdominal cramping, nausea and diarrhea. Lactose is commonly found in foods such as milk, ice cream, cream and cheese. Unfortunately, our body naturally decreases the production of lactase from around the age of two, however, there are also certain digestive diseases, such as Crohn’s and Coeliac disease, that interfere with the small intestines ability to absorb nutrients from foods, which can trigger an intolerance.

Casein is the main protein present in milk. Casein intolerance is caused when the body mistakenly identifies the protein to be harmful, signalling an immune response to produce allergic antibodies for protection. When you have an intolerance to casein, you may find that you can tolerate certain types of dairy, such as cheese and yoghurt, as a lot of the casein is lost in the fermentation process. Most casein intolerance sufferers will also find consumption of other dairy’s, such as goat or sheep, will not cause an allergic reaction. This is due to the molecules being considerably smaller, and therefore, easier to digest and absorb. Casein intolerance symptoms may include skin reactions such as hives, rashes or red itchy skin, nasal congestion or swelling of lips, mouth, tongue and throat.