Milk allergy affects a lot of people, a lot more than we have imagined. For ages, the word ‘milk’, and the mere thought of a warm glass of milk, has had a silkily comforting and lyrically healthful ring coming out of all the goodness that advertising can sum up, and the warm endorsing of parents telling children they’re good ‘if you drink your milk’. Right from having it punched in print in school-books, as topping in nutrition and being full of protein and calcium, to every person, the image of milk has been deep-rooted as being not too far from all ‘hale’ purity. But now, research is unveiling a less than perfect, darker side of this white elixir that once was.
The human body is made of 15% protein. Casein is a protein found in mammalian milk. The word ‘casein’ comes from Latin caseus, which means ‘cheese’. Human milk contains about 20-45% of casein, whilst cow milk contains about 80% of casein.
A milk allergy arises, because the immune system is intolerant of some proteins in milk; and milk products react to one or more of the milk proteins by producing histamines and mucous. You aren’t going to have an immediate reaction and allergy the moment you drink milk. This is because, our immune system takes 12 to 15 hours to produce histamines. But over time, the immune system starts to cope with it by way of fighting, until it cannot cope any more so effectively, leading to an allergy.
This, however, is not to be confused with lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is because of the lack of digestive enzymes in our body to break down lactose (sugar) or lactase (enzyme). The function of the immune system is to recognize proteins that are on the surface of micro organisms, and to form immunoglobulins (antibodies) that invade the body (antigens). In the case of a milk allergy, our body is simply unable to break down the proteins, and the immune-system mistakes them for being antigens and attacks them, making your body a bit of a battle-field and focusing it’s energy on these, ignoring some other basic functions.
Some people say that milk allergy in infants disappears when they’re around 5 years old. A child who has suffered milk-associated asthma as a child, is capable of suffering from acne, growing up as a teenager. The allergy still remains, it just starts to affect other parts of our bodies. Homogenized milk is one of the worst to have for people suffering from milk allergy, as it is more difficult to digest.
- Digestive problems, diarrhea
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rashes
- Blocked nose
- Sinus problems
- Excessive mucous
Other symptoms can manifest as:
- Hemoglobin loss
- Autoimmune disorders
- Frequent cold
- Ear infections
What to Avoid
Check labels of products you buy and avoid these –
- Milk in all its forms, including condensed, dry, evaporated, and powder
- Casein (as casein is always from milk) and casein hydrosylates
- Caseinates (like sodium caseinate)
- Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phospahte, lactoglobulin, lactoferrin
- Buttermilk and yogurt
- Cream and ice-cream
- Custard and pudding
- Sour cream and sour milk
It has always been a popular idea of wanting to increase the calcium in our bodies for stronger bones by drinking milk. But this can actually lead to osteoporosis. Milk protein has two extra sulfur-containing amino acids (methianine and cysteine). Milk (especially, pasteurized milk), however, is acidic, and acidic foods actually take away minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium in order to stabilize the pH levels in our blood. You can always eat fresh fruits and green vegetables instead, that are high in antioxidants and the minerals you need, such as spinach, collard, kale, and watercress. Pasteurized milk, especially, has very low nutritional value and hardly any digestive enzymes, making it difficult for us to digest it, as the pancreas can’t create these enzymes on its own.
Milk can be quite a heavy drink with huge amounts of saturated fat. There is around four times more calcium in cow milk than in human milk. Little calves grow up to be adults of that size in just a year after they’re born, and they need these. In milk products, the amount of cholesterol is same as in 53 slices of bacon, says dairy-industry critic, Dr. Robert Cohen. And these facts certainly put us into another paradigm when we think about it.
A genetically modified growth hormone called Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) is given to cows to boost milk production for profits of the dairy industry. This gears up the development of a hormone called IGF-1, which can’t be eliminated, neither in the process of pasteurization nor digestion. IGF-1 and rBGH are dangerous to our bodies, as they increase cell division in our bodies, which eventuates into cancers of the breast, colon, or prostate.
Nowadays, dairy farms are becoming more and more like concentration camps, with cows living in unhygienic and ruthless conditions. The reason why a cow gives milk is for her young calf to grow after she gives birth. In dairy farms, cows are impregnated by being artificially inseminated every two to three months after giving birth, every year, continually so that we have our daily supply of milk. The calves are taken away from her, and she lives in the most distressing and overly demanding conditions, living like a milk-machine. All this slowly takes a toll on the cow’s health. Male calves, being of no use to the dairy industry are sold away to the beef industry or shot in the head as soon as they’re born. The calf would suckle at least five to six times a day; but in dairy farms, they milk cows only about twice a day. The milk goes on accumulating in her udders, and a cow can produce up to 20 liters a day, making the udders protrude overly and unnaturally between her hind legs. She then ends up being so heavy, that she becomes lame after a period of time. The cows are also given a high-protein feed, which eventually makes them ill too.They live one of the most tortured lives.
A lot of cows begin to suffer from mastitis, which is an udder-infection. They are then shot with antibiotics (mainly penicillin). Often, there are cows who aren’t suffering from any particular disease but are shot with the antibiotics just as precaution. These antibiotics do end up in our milk along with other artificial and harmful hormones, and proteins they may have been shot or fed with. These can be so harmful for our bodies and can also lead to milk allergy. Half the cows in the herd are affected by Crohn’s disease, which is caused by the mycobacterium paratuberculosis bacteria.
The milk of every animal species was made for the offspring of that species, and the difference in drinking mother’s milk when we’re babies and a cow’s milk is quite large; so, milk protein allergy and things of the like aren’t a big surprise. And, especially when the poor bovines are pumped up with dreadful growth hormones, antibiotics, and brought up to live in the worst conditions, I’m left to wonder, how can milk coming from such an unhappy and unhealthy creature possibly be healthy for us at all?