Duped by Dairy

September 26, 2014
Ahhh dairy, "it does a body good" right?  Maybe if you're a calf!  I'm a "why" person, always have been.  My parents didn't much care for it when I was growing up, nor did my teachers when I was in college.  I will tell you however, it has served me well as a mom and a therapist.  Over the years I have grown into what some may think a conspiracy theorist.  I'd prefer to call myself a realist--applying common sense to complex (and sometimes simple) situations. 
Milking station at a factory farm in IN.

Milking station of a factory farm in IN.

Facts about dairy:
  • Dairy comes from cows
  • Dairy is made up of a protein called casein
  • Casein is a mucous producer
  • Cows have a 4-chamber stomach
  • The purpose of this 4 chamber stomach is to regurgitate the food back into the mouth so it enters another chamber
  • Dairy has a high protein content (protein depletes calcium)
But dairy is good for you.  We need dairy (calcium) to help build strong bones, right?  The answer is a little more complicated than it seems.  I will tell you that countries where osteoporosis has the lowest prevalence, are the countries that consume the least amount of milk/dairy.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  We've been duped by dairy (and those who sell it and/or benefit from it).

Over the years, I have had countless parents tell me that their child has been tested for food allergies and they don't have any.  What most parents don't realize is that sometimes there's not an actual allergy, but more of a sensitivity or intolerance to dairy products.  Here's the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance:

A food allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts to a protein it perceives as harmful.  Food allergies result in an immediate reaction from the harmful substance.  The immune system responds with IgE "fighter" proteins that destroy the harmful invaders.  When they test for allergies they are looking for these IgE antibodies. 

Food sensitivities/intolerances also cause a response from your immune system, and IgG antibodies are produced.  The reaction can occur within hours or days of the offending food.  Because the reaction is delayed, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what the offender is. 

You're probably wondering why all of this is important.  Again, I'm a 'why' kind of person, and in order to understand how things happen, I need to know the 'why's.'  Following is a list of symptoms that generally occur in children (and adults) who have a dairy sensitivity/intolerance (based on research): 
10 days dairy free - reduced bloating

10 days dairy free - reduced bloating!

Ear infections
Upper respiratory infections
Sinus infections
Persistent runny nose/congestion
Constipation (sometimes diarrhea, but I rarely see this with dairy sensitivity)
Bloated stomach
Dark circles under the eyes (shiners)
Ezcema & itchy skin
Lethargy (older kids)
Sleep disturbances (not sleeping for long periods of time)

In addition to the symptoms noted above, I have also noted some things clinically that I have not been able to identify in the literature.  I haven't been able to figure out the "why" part of it, but I'm still looking--here they are:

Early walkers.  Most parents think their child is a genius when they are walking at 9 months.  Unfortunately, there is usually a reason they are upright so early, and frankly it's not good for their development.  I suspect for these kids who are early walkers that they are experiencing symptoms of reflux (it's not always spitting up, it can be silent too).  Being in an upright position helps push the stomach contents back down.

Atypical movement patterns.  For whatever reason I have found that kids with a dairy sensitivity/intolerance have odd ways in which they move.  It's almost like in slow motion and it requires a great deal of effort. 

Slower processing time for motor and speech demands.  For whatever reason, and from what I have experienced, kids with dairy sensitivities/intolerance just take longer to respond. 

Anxiety.  The only real connection I can make is the gut-brain connection (your gut is your 2nd brain).  I have seen it with my daughter and some of my clients, when dairy is removed these kids are less stressed.
Look at the size of those pupils! Dairy addiction.

Look at the size of those pupils! Dairy addiction.

Movement seekers - going from one thing to the next.  When my daughter was younger, she was crazy, and I mean crazy.  She exhibited intermittent toe walking and she didn't learn to walk, she started running right away.  She loved to run and crash, most often into the wall, and then she would fall to the floor and laugh.  Dairy related?  I don't know, but I see it in the clinic too. 

Excessive drooling.  You don't see this a lot when looking at the literature out there, but we see it everyday.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  Dairy produces mucous, and therefore excess saliva is produced to thin the mucous. 

Picky eating.  My daughter was addicted to macaroni-n-cheese, cheese, grilled cheese, ice cream - anything that was dairy based.  She was extremely picky and it made mealtimes a nightmare.  She had multiple feeding evaluations, and finally had feeding therapy (by the way, her food repertoire only expanded once we removed the offending dairy from her diet - no joke!).  I've taken every training known to mankind on feeding, but let me tell you, you don't want me addressing it with your child!  It's too personal for me, and honestly I don't have the patience for it.  Dairy creates an opiate response, and kids often crave things that are making them sick.  Click here and read pages 244 - 245 about the addiction response.

So what do you do?  Take the dairy free challenge for two weeks.  Really that's all it takes.  If your child (or you) exhibits any of the above symptoms, take out all dairy (cheese, milk, ice cream), just the big stuff for now.  Dairy is actually hidden in a million different things, but don't worry about that right off the bat.  If you are an over-achiever, here is a list of dairy protein (casein) and the different names it goes by.  I know it's scary.  I've been there.  You will be happy you tried it, trust me. If you don't see any improvements with your child, dairy may not be the culprit!  That's one piece of the puzzle solved.  Don't be like me and get duped by dairy!

For everything milk, visit www.notmilk.com.  This site is loaded with pros, cons, research, you name it!

Check out our website for a list of resources regarding food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances. 

Please remember, the information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be used as medical advice.  Always do your research and consult your doctor when making changes to your child's diet. 
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