Dairy & Wheat Allergies

Dairy is one of the eight most common allergens in the United States.  Food labeling laws require that the presence of milk is clearly marked on ingredient lists. Allergy in cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in childhood. This allergy occurs more frequently in infants who are fed cow’s milk formula rather than being breast fed. Children usually outgrow this allergy by age three but about one fifth of children will still be allergic to milk as adults. The individuals who don’t outgrow this allergy are more likely to have high levels of cow’s milk antibodies in their blood. Some symptoms of this allergy are rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and difficulty breathing. Cow’s milk allergy is caused by a reaction to different allergens found in the milk such as casein and whey. Casein, which has 80% of the milk’s proteins, is the curd that forms when the milk is sour and whey, holding 20% of the milk’s proteins, is the watery part left when the curd is removed. People can be allergic to whey, casein or both and an allergic reaction can be triggered by small amounts of these allergens.  A milk allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance. Intolerance doesn’t involve the immune system and requires different treatment than a true milk allergy. Rarely a milk allergy can cause anaphylaxis, which is life threatening and can block airways. Also, children who are allergic to milk are more likely to develop other health problems which include allergies to eggs, soy, peanuts or even beef. It’s not easy to avoid these foods because a lot of unsuspected products actually contain milk or milk products.

It is important to always check the labels on foods every time you buy a particular product. Heat treatment such as pasteurization is sometimes used to change the whey in the milk, but this will not affect the casein. If you have a milk allergy, you should strictly avoid milk by reading food labels and ingredients. Some foods to avoid would be milk in all forms, casein, whey, butter, cheese, cream cheese, pudding, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream etc. Milk is also present in some processed foods that people are unaware of such as chocolate, salad dressings, certain soups and pastries. Milk products are an important source of Calcium, Protein, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. It’s important that people who have a milk allergy get these vitamin and mineral sources from other foods such as broccoli, spinach, and soy products or take supplements when appropriate. Always be aware of cross contamination of where some foods may have been while processing them. There are some food substitutes for milk products in super markets and food stores. Milk can be substituted by water or fruit juice when cooking or baking products. An EpiPen can also be carried around if an individual has severe reactions to milk.  A nutritionist can help these people finding foods that might have milk in them that they are unaware of and also help find milk-free substitutes like Calcium, Vitamin D and protein. It is also important to avoid products that are labeled with a D in bold, standing for dairy, as another factor to keep track of when buying foods. Some foods that can be tolerated with milk allergies on food labels that some may think aren’t acceptable are calcium lactate, cocoa butter, cream of tartar, lactic acid, and sodium lactate. It’s important to read labels as carefully as possible if you have a severe allergy to milk since milk products are used in a variety of foods that may sometimes be hidden.

A wheat allergy is one of the more common food allergies in children. Wheat allergies affect as many as six percent of children under the age of three. An allergy to wheat means that an abnormal immune system reacts to one or more proteins found in wheat. Some symptoms that may occur are hives, difficulty breathing, and nausea. The wheat allergy can also cause anaphylaxis. A wheat allergy is different than the disorder, celiac disease. A wheat allergy also may not be a lifelong disorder. Children usually outgrow this allergy by the time they are three or five and it isn’t as common in adolescents and adults. Albumin, globulin, gliadin, and gluten are the four classes of proteins in wheat that can cause an allergic reaction. Some sources of wheat are found in bread, cakes, breakfast cereals, pasta, crackers, beer, meat products, condiments such as ketchup, dairy products, natural flavorings, modified food starch etc. Also, if you have a wheat allergy you may be allergic to other grains such as barley, oat, and rye. An individual is at an increased risk for developing a wheat allergy if parents have any food allergies and if you are an infant or toddler you are at an increased risk. Three most common allergy symptoms of a wheat allergy are asthma, eczema, and sometimes anaphylaxis. In order to diagnose a wheat allergy, a food diary should be kept of the foods you eat and how they affect you, remove certain products from your diet, and have a skin test or a blood test.

Avoiding wheat is the primary treatment for this allergy. Since wheat is a staple dietary grain, it is hard to live with an allergy of this. There are also common hidden allergens especially in hair products and arts and craft materials individuals should be aware of. Medications may also be necessary if you accidentally eat a wheat product.  Always check food ingredients before consuming a product. Many processed foods may contain wheat flour, so be aware of this when checking the label also. Some substitutes for wheat are corn, potato, barley, oat, soy and rice flours.  Bread, pasta, and most batter fried foods are off limits to a person with a wheat allergy. Chain restaurants often include wheat and gluten information on websites or are included in their menus. Whole foods markets are reliable sources to find wheat-free products. Spelt and kamut are usually used as wheat substitutes and are known as safer source for people with wheat allergies, but that’s not always the case because they are such close relatives to wheat. Some grains that are not a close relative to wheat are amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, corn, rice, oats and millet.  Antihistamines may reduce signs and symptoms of wheat allergies after a wheat product is consumed. Also, epinephrine is an emergency treatment for anaphylaxis. If an individual is at a severe risk for a wheat allergy, they may need to carry around an EpiPen. Buying wheat free cookbooks, checking food labels and being cautious while eating out are all ways to help people with wheat allergies cope with this allergy for the amount of time that they have it.


2 thoughts on “Dairy & Wheat Allergies

  1. Was there any reason you and your husband cut out wheat and dairy? do you have any allergies or did you just feel that it was something healthier to do? I checked out your blog, nice recipes!

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