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  • Archive for the ‘milk allergies’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Giving Up Dairy

    lecheI’m seeing a nutritionist who has given me a regimen to follow. I’m a little skeptical of it, so am researching each of the items one by one.

    One of the items is forgoing milk. She said cow’s milk is particularly bad because it’s pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, and our stomachs aren’t meant to digest the milk of another animal.

    If I must have some milk, she recommended small amounts of goat’s or sheep’s milk (or cheese), because those animals aren’t fed as many antibiotics and hormones as cows are. (This last part makes me think that organic milk would be no worse than goat or sheep milk, but anyway…)

    I know many people are lactose-intolerant because we aren’t meant to digest milk after childhood.

    However, if I’m not lactose-intolerant, is it still possible that milk is affecting my digestive system negatively? Do you ever recommend to your clients that they drop dairy entirely?

    Should I care that all of the substitutes for dairy milk (soy, almond, rice) are highly processed and don’t really occur in nature?

    – Meredith (Last name withheld)
    (Location withheld)

    Wonderful questions, Meredith.

    First of all, not all cow’s milk is pumped full of antibiotics and hormones.

    While, sadly, that is the norm, it is possible to purchase organic milk from cows that have not been fed either of those two things.  You can also purchase milk from grass-fed cows (that have also not been pumped with antibiotics and hormones) in most health food stores.

    As for the arguments that our stomachs aren’t meant to digest the milk of another animal — it depends.  That is certainly true for some individuals, but not for others.

    For information on the digestibility of goat’s milk (it goes far beyond lower lactose levels!), please read this post.

    Bottom line: if you are not lactose intolerant, there is no reason why dairy products would affect your digestive system negatively.

    I would never recommend that a client of mine who is able to digest dairy products completely eliminate them (I do think it is a good idea for omnivores to get calcium from a variety of different foods and not rely solely on dairy, though).

    Similarly, I would never tell a vegan client (or one who is lactose intolerant) that their diet is inferior because it does not include dairy.

    The mere presence — or absence — of dairy does not make a diet any healthier.

    From a purely nutritional standpoint, there is nothing wrong with having it or eschewing it.

    Ultimately, your body knows you best.  There are people who, while not allergic or intolerant to dairy, feel better without it in their diet.  Others feel better when they consume dairy on a daily basis.  Both experiences are valid.

    In terms of dairy milk substitutes — I enjoy making different nut milks at home.  It’s easy, inexpensive, and less processed than some products out there.

    That said, if you are buying unsweetened varieties that consist of two or three ingredients, you don’t have anything to worry about.

    FYI: One of my favorite home-made nut milks is cashew milk.  In a blender, mix a  half cup of cashews, two cups of water, a pinch of salt, and some vanilla extract.  This makes two cups of cashew milk — delicious by itself or over cereal.

    For a chocolate version, add a tablespoon of cacao powder!  You can also try substituting cashews with almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, or hazelnuts.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Casein

    What is casein, and how does it relate to nutrition?

    The reason why I ask is because here in Argentina, a popular brand of milk called La Serenisima has released a new milk with extra calcium and extra casein.

    What do you think?

    – Maria (last name withheld)
    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Casein is the main protein in milk (80% of protein in the dairy beverage is in the form of casein; the remaining 20% consists of whey.)

    The only way it relates to nutrition is that, just like all other animal proteins — and soy — it is complete, meaning it provides all eight essential amino acids.

    Although casein is highly bioavailable (the technical term for “the body wastes very little of it,”) it is beaten out by egg albumin and whey protein.

    I am not sure why a company would look to create “high casein” milk, particularly since casein is by no means an essential nutrient.

    It is perfectly plausible to meet all your protein and nutrient needs without ever ingesting any casein.

    Perhaps “extra casein” is their snazzy terminology for “extra protein,” which I still do not see the necessity for.

    Milk is already a good source of protein (9 grams per 8 ounce/236 milliliter glass), and as far as I know, protein deficiency is not a health issue in Buenos Aires.

    My thoughts? This is simply an inventive marketing strategy to boost milk sales.

    While we’re on the topic of casein, allow me to say a few more things.

    Although a small percentage of the population (roughly 2 – 3 percent) is allergic to casein, that is very different from being lactose intolerant.

    A casein allergy is an altered immunological response to a specific protein, whereas lactose intolerance has to do with the body’s inability to break down lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in milk and other dairy products.

    That said, keep in mind that casein is in a lot of non-dairy processed foods (and many cosmetic products) since it is a rather inexpensive binding agent. This is why people with casein allergis need to read food labels VERY carefully.

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    Perfect Pickings: Tuna

    It may surprise you to learn that not all canned tuna is created equally.

    First up: packed in water or oil?

    Water is preferrable – for two reasons.

    It results in less calories (60 calories per 2 ounce serving, rather than 110 or 120) and, since water and oil don’t mix, the Omega-3 fatty acids present in tuna are not lost when water is drained.

    The two more important issues surrounding canned tuna are sodium and mercury levels.

    A standard 6 ounce can of tuna provides 750 – 850 milligrams of sodium (approximately a third of a day’s needs) — quite a bit for its low calorie contribution (roughly 150, if canned in water).

    Look for low-sodium varieties that slash sodium by half, like Starkist’s “low sodium tuna”.

    You will barely tell the difference, especially if you are eating canned tuna as part of a salad or sandwich.

    Albacore tuna — the white, meatier, less fishy tasting of the bunch — happens to be one of the largest fish.

    Therefore, its mercury content is approximately 3 times higher than that of smaller fish — mainly skipjack — used for chunk light varieties.

    Some companies, like King of the Sea, sell authentic low-mercury — chunk light is “lower mercury”– tuna . The secret? Using yellowfin tuna!

    Here’s a tidbit that surprises many people.

    Those of you with a milk protein (casein) allergy must read canned tuna labels carefully, since some of them are processed by adding hydrolyzed casein!

    Lastly, be mindful of what you’re putting on your tuna. If it’s a few tablespoons of mayo, it’s time to do some modifying.

    I find, for instance, that hummus — especially a red pepper variety — is a wonderfully tasty replacement for mayonnaise when making tuna salad.

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