A food allergy refers to an abnormal immunologic reaction in which the body’s immune system produces an allergic antibody called immunoglobulin E (igE) antibody to harmless foods like milk and egg protein that results in allergy symptoms.
A milk allergy is a food allergy, and an immune reaction to one of the many proteins in animal milk, most often caused by the alpha s1-casein protein found in cow milk. The major allergens in cow milk are ɑs1-, ɑs2-, β-, and κ-casein, and the whey proteins alpha and beta lactoglobulin.
Cow milk allergy is the most common food allergy in babies and young children.
Approximately 2.5 percent of children younger than three years old are allergic to milk. Babies who develop an allergy to milk usually do so during the first year of life, and most children outgrow a milk allergy.
Cow milk allergy is also one of eight foods that are responsible for 90 percent of childhood allergies. They include:
- Tree nuts
Difference Between Milk Allergy and Lactose Intolerance
So we know what a milk allergy is. But what does lactose intolerance mean?
Lactose intolerance occurs when a person lacks the enzyme lactase that breaks down lactose, a milk sugar, into glucose and galactose in the intestines. The symptoms of food allergies are serious and can be fatal.
Food intolerances may produce symptoms similar to food allergies like cramping. But while people with true food allergies need to avoid certain foods completely, people with an intolerance can often eat small amounts of the offending food without experiencing symptoms.
Symptoms of a Milk Allergy
Sensitivity to cow milk varies from person to person. Some people get severe reactions after only ingesting a tiny bit, while others only have a mild reaction after ingesting a moderate amount of milk.
Symptoms of a milk allergy can range from mild (hives) to severe (anaphylaxis). That’s why people with any food allergy should get an epinephrine auto-injector like EpiPen, Auvi-Q, or Adrenaclick.
An allergic reaction usually occurs within minutes to hours after consuming milk. Children often have a “slow” reaction, which means symptoms will develop over time – perhaps within several hours to days later. Symptoms associated with a slow reaction are:
- Abdominal cramps
- Skin rash
- Intermittent coughing
- Runny nose or sinus infection
- Loose stool (which may contain blood or mucus)
Symptoms that occur quickly (within seconds to hours) may include:
Alternatives For People With a Cow Milk Allergy
Luckily, cow milk isn’t the only player in milk town. Nowadays, you can find at least a few alternatives to choose from.
For people who are lactose intolerant, have a cow milk allergy, are vegans, or are vegetarians, soy milk is a great alternative. With just 100 calories, each 8-ounce serving of soy milk provides 8 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of protein. Here’s what’s in soy milk:
- 0.5 milligram of riboflavin (more than a third of the USDA’s recommended 1.3 mg)
- 299 mg of calcium
- 119 IU of vitamin D
- 1.2 gram of sugar (in the form of sucrose)
Some benefits of soy milk include:
- Reduces risk of prostate cancer
- Lowers blood pressure
- Boost calcium and iron intake
- Relieves certain menopausal symptoms
- Improves heart health
Almond milk is a delicious, dairy-free, soy-free, and lactose-free milk alternative. Nutrients in almond milk include:
- Vitamin A, B, C, E, and K
Along with the many nutrients mentioned above, almonds have some unexpected benefits like these:
- Lowers cholesterol
- Lowers risk of colon cancer
- Help ward off heart disease
- Reduces blood pressure
- Improves blood flow
Coconut contains beneficial fat called lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that’s easily absorbed and used by the body for energy. It is rich in fiber, and vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6.
A serving size of full-fat coconut milk is ¼ cup, and it contains these minerals:
- 0.55 milligrams manganese (27% DV)
- 0.15 mg copper (8% DV)
- 60 mg phosphorus (6% DV)
- 22 mg magnesium (5.5% DV)
- 3.9 mg iron (5.5% DV)
- 157 mg potassium (4.5% DV)
Benefits of coconut milk include:
- Improves heart health
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves digestion and relieves constipation
- Can help manage blood sugar and control diabetes
Types of Milk Allergies
Although cow milk allergy is the most common food allergy, we can’t disregard all the people who are allergic to other foods that can be made into milk like nuts and soy.
Rice Milk Allergy
Rice is probably the least likely grain for people to be allergic to, meaning it’s hypoallergenic. This is why many parents may choose to give their children who are allergic to nuts and cow milk, rice milk. Although rice allergies are rare in the West, they have come up in Asian countries like Japan and Korea, where rice is a staple food. Symptoms of rice allergy include:
- Redness of the skin
- Stuffy or runny nose
Some foods to avoid include:
- Rice flours
- Puffed rice
- Rice wine
- Rice vinegar
- Rice cereals
Almond Milk Allergy
Tree nuts like almonds (along with walnuts, cashews, and pecans) are at the top of the list of allergy offenders. And nearly half of people allergic to peanuts are allergic to tree nuts, making almond milk allergy more common than we probably think.
Unlike cow milk allergy, which mentioned earlier is usually developed during their first year of life and can be outgrown, tree nut allergies tend to last a lifetime. Only 20 percent of children will outgrow an allergy to peanuts, and an even smaller number will outgrow tree nut allergies.
Along with wheezing, vomiting, and nausea, symptoms of a tree nut allergy may include:
- Eczema or hives
- Abdominal pain
- Trouble breathing
- Runny nose
Foods to avoid with tree nut allergy include almonds, brazil nuts, beechnuts, cashews, hickory nuts, lychee, macadamia nuts, and these other foods (not everything is listed):
- Nut milk
- Pine nuts
Tree nuts are sometimes found in the following:
- Natural nut extract
- Alcoholic extracts
- Nut oils
- Walnut hull extract
Along this long list of things to avoid with a tree nut allergy, there are even more foods to watch out for, and they can be very unexpected, so make sure to check the labels!
- Flavored coffee
- Frozen desserts
- Some cold cuts
Soy Milk Allergy
Soy is also at the top of the list of allergens, and again, always check labels!
A soy allergy is most common in infants and symptoms may include
- Runny nose
There are quite a bit of foods to avoid with this allergy. They include edamame, miso, natto, shoyu, soy sauce, soybeans, tofu, bean curd, and more.
With all these types of allergies, it is nice to know there is something we can turn to – camel milk. From what studies have shown, when all else fails, camel milk seems to be the most reliable and beneficial milk source.
Benefits of Camel Milk
Camel milk is a natural probiotic that is 50 percent lower in fat and saturated fat than regular cow milk. It has 110 calories per serving, and 5 grams of protein, which makes up 10 percent of the suggested daily intake of protein. But there’s more! Here are just a handful of the many nutrients packed in camel milk:
Cow milk has A1 beta-casein proteins, the protein that people who are lactose intolerant or have a cow milk allergy react negatively to. Camel milk, on the other hand, contains A2 beta-casein proteins, which studies have shown for people with cow milk allergies and who are lactose intolerant can consume without adverse reactions.
One study involved a prick test with powder camel milk and full cream cow milk. Both patients (3.5 and 2.5 years old) tested positive for cow milk and negative for camel milk in the prick test.
Another study involved six patients 14 months to 13 years with cow milk allergy who went through a similar prick test and all came out positive for full cream cow milk, and negative for camel milk. These studies show that camel milk could be a possible alternative to infant formula for babies with cow milk allergy.
Aside from being a great alternative for basically all types of milk, benefits of camel milk include:
- Being similar to breast milk
- Improves heart and blood health
- Treats autism
- Treats and prevents diabetes
Looks like camel milk is the big winner for people with a milk allergy! You can buy camel milk online at Desert Farms!