Rebecca Wood
Rebecca Wood
Be Nourished

Healing with Food Article

When Milk Makes you Sick

Accompanying recipe: Garlicky Tahini Dip

Is your health (or your child's) not the best? If there are too many sick days, you may thrive without diary. Beyond childhood, the majority of people throughout the world can’t digest milk.

That’s why continued use of milk and dairy products is implicated with asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders and chronic infections. Indeed, the belief that milk is good for everyone benefits primarily the dairy industry. Here’s how to determine if you are sensitive to dairy or other foods.

For three weeks, do an elimination diet. Don’t eat any dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and milk chocolate. Read labels carefully as milk is a common ingredient in many packaged, processed and fast foods. Make notes on what happens to your health symptoms. Then, on the twenty-second day, enjoy your favorite dairy product. If your symptoms return within 36 hours, you’ll know that milk makes you sick.

The 21 day elimination period is not arbitrary. Your immune system reacts to problematic foods by producing immunoglobulins. Before you can accurately gauge a food reaction, it takes three full weeks without eating the not-healthy-for-you food in order to clear out the immunoglobulins.

Incidentally, the common allergens besides dairy are wheat, corn, rice, soy, eggs, fish and nuts. If you crave (or have an aversion) to any of these foods, it indicates a potential sensitivity. Therefore, avoid all suspect foods during your 3-week elimination diet.

The inability to digest milk sugar (lactose intolerance) or milk protein (casein) is most commonly cited as the problem with dairy sensitivities and allergies.

If milk is a culprit, then you can experiment to determine precisely which forms of dairy trigger your symptoms. You may be able to tolerate cheese and/or butter but not milk. Most people can use ghee (clarified butter) as it is pure fat. Some people use lactose-reduced milk or take lactase enzymes which may reduce, but not resolve, your health symptoms. Soy, rice and almond milk are substitutes for cow milk.

However, some data implicates milk quality with sensitivities and recommends raw milk products ( But when there is a milk allergy (versus sensitivity), then raw milk products are also problematic. About ten percent of the people allergic to cow milk are able to tolerate goat milk.

Eliminating dairy is one step. Your second is making sure that you’re enjoying a balanced and healthy diet. Leafy greens and seaweed provide even more calcium than milk. If cheese was a primary protein source, make sure you’re now getting enough protein from beans, fish, poultry or meat.

Nutrients aside, food is about enjoyment. So how will you create satisfying dairy-free meals?  Fortunately, your options are endless. Most Asian fare is dairy-free as are the recipes on this web page and in my books. Also, in many of your favorite dishes, you may use a milk substitute or simply omit the cheese.

Here's a creamy and dairy-free sauce that may be used as a dip, dressing or sauce.  Garlicky_Tahini_Dip

May you be well nourished,

Rebecca Wood

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