Digestible Dairy Los Alamos NM

Milk may do a body good—but not every body. An estimated 30 million to 50 million Americans (about 25 percent of the population) can’t digest milk. What’s more, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology lists cow milk as one of the most common food allergies.

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Welman A Shrader II, MD
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Delicious and Digestible Dairy

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By Christine Spehar

Milk may do a body good—but not every body. An estimated 30 million to 50 million Americans (about 25 percent of the population) can’t digest milk. What’s more, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology lists cow milk as one of the most common food allergies. Why does this supposedly wholesome food leave some people crying foul while others cry simply for a cookie to dunk in it?

The most widely known reason: lactose intolerance. People who produce insufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase can’t break down lactose (the major sugar in milk) into simpler, easily absorbable forms. The lactose then travels undigested through the gut where bacteria have a heyday with it. The result? Cramps, gas, bloating, the runs, and even nausea. Fermented products like yogurts and cheese, especially dry ones, contain less lactose, making them easier to digest.

Some people also have trouble digesting the long chains of fatty acids in cow milk. As a rule of thumb, “shorter-chained essential fatty acids are more easily absorbed into the blood and transported to body tissues as compared to longer-chain fatty acids,” says Wisconsin-based nutritionist Shereen Jegtvig, CNS.

Finally, allergic reactions to the milk protein casein also trigger problems in susceptible individuals. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, many people mistake cow-milk allergy for lactose intolerance because they manifest in similar stomach woes, but the two are not, in fact, related. Interestingly, milks from other animals often contain differently structured forms of casein, which may not set off allergic reactions. “The amino acid sequences of goat, sheep, and other animal milks are different from cow milk,” says Jegtvig. “A person whose immune system views cow casein as an enemy may not react badly to other animal’s casein because it ‘looks’ different.”

The amount of lactose in a milk and the length of the fatty acid chains vary with the type of milk as well. If cow milk doesn’t sit well with you, before giving up on cereal, smoothies, and milk-dipped cookies, you may want to try these alternatives. Keep in mind that while they may solve dairy digestion problems for some, others may still not tolerate them and need to try options like nut and grain milks to get their “dairy” fix.

Help from nanny
Goat milk tends to be more stomach-friendly than cow milk because it contains smaller-chain fatty acids and less lactose. Plus, says Jegtvig, since the casein is shaped differently, “many people with cow milk allergies can tolerate goat milk.” Nutritionally, goat milk stands out as well, with 1 cup boasting 327 mg of calcium and 498 grams of potassium (compared to 276 mg calcium and 349 grams potassium in cow milk). Goat milk can also help alkalize bodies made overly acidic from diets high in processed foods and red meat. That’s important because “chronic metabolic acidosis has been associated with mineral loss in bones, ...

Author: Christine Spehar

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